Terrified guests conceal in kitchen as masked men wielding axes and knives make off with valuables from display cases
Five masked men armed with axes and knives strolled into the Ritz hotel in central Paris on Wednesday and left shortly afterwards with an estimated EUR4. 5 million worth of jewels.
French police on patrol outside the five-star hotel capture three of the robbers after tasering them as they fled on foot. The remaining two escaped through a back entrance and made their getaway on a scooter.
Detectives say the men entered the Ritz on rue Cambon, near the Place Vendome, at around 6.30 pm. They reportedly smashed several showing windows inside the hotel with the axes and grabbed the pearls, stuffing them into containers before leaving.
Witnesses said staff in the hotel’s Hemingway bar told terrified guests to get down on the floor for safety issues as the robbers struck. Other guests took refuge in the hotel kitchen.
” We hear a loud noise and lots of racket in the street ,” one hotel employee told AFP.” Passers-by took refuge in the hotel. We didn’t know what was going on until someone told us there had been a robbery .”
Witnesses said at least 10 shootings were fired, and hotel guests reported considering one Ritz employee injured.
However, French police said there had been no injuries. A police officer said the exact value of the jewellery steal in the heist is not aware, but was thought to be” several billion euros “. Le Parisien newspaper reported that the three arrested suspects were well known to police.
French writer Frederic Beigbeder was among guests drinking in the Hemingway bar at the time of the attack. He told journalists he took refuge in the basement.
Gerard Collomb, the French interior minister, praised the police response following the arrests.” Armed robbery at the Ritz: three of the presumed thieves already arrested by police from the 2nd arrondissement. Their sing froitd , their professionalism and their quick reactions do the police proud. I am grateful to them ,” Collomb tweeted.