Chesterfield woman ‘close to being in wrong place at wrong time’

The Super-U supermarket in Trebes, France, and Tracy Mitchell, inset.
The Super-U supermarket in Trebes, France, and Tracy Mitchell, inset.

A Chesterfield woman has said she was ‘so close to being in the wrong place at the wrong time’ following a terrorist attack in France.

Tracy Mitchell, a former journalist at the Derbyshire Times, has a second home in the small village of Rieux-en-Val, just a 20 minute drive from the sleepy town of Trèbes.

The town was rocked when radical Islamist gunman, 25-year-old Redouane Lakdim, killed four people and injured 16 others in a shooting-spree which included taking hostages at the Super-U supermarket.

Ms Mitchell, a lecturer in journalism at Hillsborough College, said she always uses the store and was planning a trip to the same supermarket less around 24 hours later.

She said she was hours away from the French resort when news of the attack filtered through.

The 47-year-old paid tribute to the victims from the community she now ‘feels a part of’ for the past 15 years.

French police officer Arnaud Beltrame swapped himself for a hostage in the supermarket and later died of his wounds. He has been hailed a hero for his act of bravery.

Officers brought the siege to an end after Lakdim was shot dead.

Ms Mitchell said: “Trèbes is about 20 minutes from my house in Rieux-en-Val.

“We’ve owned the house for 15 years, so we really feel part of the community. We always use the Super U - in fact 24 hours later and we would have been shopping in there on Saturday.

“My pregnant friend and her toddler were in the supermarket the day before. I realise just how close we came to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It’s just awful, I’m so shocked and saddened for everybody involved.”

The violence began on Friday morning in the nearby medieval city of Carcassonne, where Lakdim hijacked a car.

He killed a passenger - whose body was later found hidden in a bush - and injured the driver.

He then shot at a group of policemen who were out jogging, wounding one of them.

Lakdim is then believed to have driven a short distance to the small town of Trèbes, where he stormed into the Super-U supermarket, shouting, “I am a soldier of Daesh (Islamic State)!”

He killed two people - a customer and a store worker - before seizing others as hostages.