In the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, Palestinian terrorists captured and killed 11 athletes and coaches from the Israeli Olympic wrestling team. Ever since deadly aftermath the nation of France has maintained an elite group of anti-terror operatives, called the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or GIGN.
Initially created as a relatively small SWAT unit specialized in sensitive hostage situations, today these anti-terror operatives are regarded as arguably the most efficient and effective anti-terror groups in the world. However, someone forgot to mention that to a recent group of armed robbers.
When two gunmen entered a McDonald’s restaurant, they had no idea they were in for a lot more than they could handle. As the robbers burst in, they fired a shotgun into the air and ordered all customers (approx. 40) and employees to get down, and hand over their money. Once everyone was on the floor, the burglars then ordered the registers to be opened.
What these men didn’t realize was that almost a quarter of the people in the McDonalds restaurant were part of the GIGN special forces operatives, who weren’t too keen on some idiots ruining their Big Macs. So, how do you think a pair of common thieves faired against a group of the world’s top special forces? Well, you might be surprised by what happened.
Rather than pull their weapons, and put others in harms way, the operatives remained alert, but did what the robbers ordered. The sense of calmness amongst them kept the situation from escalating to something worse than it needed to be.
Local prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot described the situation saying, “During the hold-up, the gendarmes didn’t do anything. It was out of the question to use their weapons, as this would have created difficulties and could have placed many people’s lives in danger.”
As the robbers made their way throughout the store, the GIGN operatives waited for an opportunity to take them on. Suddenly, one of the burglars tripped in an entryway, and that was the only space of opportunity the operatives needed. Without firing a single shot, they were able to take down one of the two gunmen.
With his accomplice down, the second gunman began to panic, and continued to hold up the fast-food establishment. He demanded the money, and held the entire room at gunpoint, in spite of the operatives telling him to drop his weapon. Well, the shooter didn’t drop his weapon, and immediately was shot in the abdomen by one of the agents, and the situation was over. Aside from the two criminals, nobody ended up getting hurt, which is a rarity it seems these days.
The French thieves (both in their 20’s) were taken to the hospital to receive medical care, and were then taken into custody. They are being charged with armed robbery and other charges of violence, and are set to see a judge soon.
Clearly these anti-terror units are incredibly elite, as they were able to take down two armed robbers by taking a single shot (and a takedown move). They are so effective, that this year the Tour de France will be protected by 23,000 of these elite agents. In the wake of recent terror attacks, it is safe to say this is a good move.
The people in that McDonalds that day were incredibly lucky a group of special ops decided to stop for some burgers and fries. Who knows what would have happened if a civilian without training attempted to be a hero in this situation. Chances are things would’ve gotten bloody, but fortunately that didn’t happen.
While this wasn’t a terror attack, this situation gives us a glimpse into just how calm, cool, and collected these men and women of the GIGN are. The Tour de France brings in millions of fans every year, and that makes it a huge target for a potential attack. Thankfully the GIGN will be there, and hopefully will be able to keep the peace.