Montreux (Switzerland) (AFP), March 25 – A French family plunged from a seventh-floor balcony in the western Swiss town of Montreux on Thursday after police knocked on their door, killing four and a teenager in serious condition.
The circumstances surrounding the family drama in an upscale neighborhood of the picturesque town on the shores of Lake Geneva have remained unclear.
But police said the five members of the same family – a 40-year-old man, his 41-year-old wife and twin sister, as well as the couple’s eight-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son – came out of the balcony after two officers showed up at their door early Thursday.
All but the son died when they hit the ground, while the boy was taken to hospital in serious condition, police said.
“The agents were unable to enter the apartment, and it seems that at that time the decision was made by this family to jump from the balcony,” said Jean Christophe Sauterel, spokesperson for the cantonal police of Vaud, on the public channel RTS.
An investigation has been opened, but police have already concluded that the incident happened “behind closed doors”, and that no one else was in the apartment at the time, he said. precise.
The investigation must make it possible to determine “what pushed these people to do this”, Sauterel told AFP. “As things stand, investigators aren’t ruling out any theories.”
– ‘Like a bad movie’ –
Officers at the door of the apartment were there to execute a warrant against the father as part of the son’s homeschooling, police said.
They knocked on the door and heard a voice asking who they were, but once they answered, the apartment fell silent, he said.
After failing to establish contact, the officers left, but “in the meantime a witness called the police to say that people had fallen from the balcony of an apartment,” the statement said.
The bodies were found at the foot of the building, near the famous Montreux Casino around 07:00 (06:00 GMT).
“I saw five bodies about ten meters from the building, three on one side and two on the other,” a neighbor told the daily Tribune de Genève.
“It was difficult to understand what I was seeing. It was like a bad movie.
Sauterel said the witness who called saw the family members fall to the ground and was receiving professional support.
A number of other people connected to the drama, as well as first responders, have also received advice, he said.
The family was made up of all French citizens who had lived in Switzerland for “several years” and had resident status, he said.
“We know that they were a rather reserved family, with little contact with the outside world,” Sauterel told AFP, adding that they had had no run-ins with the law beyond the question of the son’s schooling.
That case, he explained, had surfaced because the family had failed to respond to requests for information from school authorities, which is common when a child is homeschooled.
“The police were asked to come and get the father so that he could explain his child’s school situation,” he explained.
According to the Tribune de Genève, neighbors said the father appeared to have worked from home.
The mother was a dentist who had worked in Paris, while her twin sister was an ophthalmologist.