A 41-year-old woman with ‘deep psychological disorder’ was arrested by the French police in Marseille on Sunday, after spraying four American students with acid. Two of the students suffered facial burns.
The horrifying attack occurred shortly after 11AM on Sunday at the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles station, where the four women were preparing to board a train.
The attacker did the assault with a cleaning substance containing hydrochloric acid, which she allegedly bought from a local DIY store. After carrying out the attack, the women displayed photos of her own burns, allegedly picked up in an earlier incident. Placed in police custody, the attacker, born in 1976 and known to the police, justified her act by the fact that she herself had “been the victim of acid violence” when she was younger.
“She displayed clear signs of suffering from deep psychological problems,” said a police source close to the case.
Firefighters dispatched four rescue vehicles and fourteen men to the scene. The four students were taken to a Marseille hospital for treatment but released mid-afternoon. The woman who received worst injuries had suffered impaired vision. She was one of the two sprayed directly in the face with acid, while the other two received acid splashes on their legs.
The U.S. Embassy in Paris and French officials in Marseille kept the women’s parents and other family members informed about the development of the situation.
All were Boston College juniors in their early 20s. They were named by their university as Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug, Courtney Siverling, and Kelsey Kosten. Kaufman, Krug, and Siverling are all enrolled in Boston College’s Paris programme, while Kosten is a student at the Copenhagen Business School.
On Sunday, Siverling posted on her Facebook profile that she and the other three women are all safe and said she did not sustain any injuries.
Savannah Freitas, Siverling’s friend from church, told Daily Mail that the other three American students are now safe and have received help by the French police and the U.S. Consulate.
“Courtney did not receive any injuries but I did hear that the three others did but are expected to heal completely. However I am mostly struck by Courtney’s incredible faith throughout this whole event,” Freitas said.
‘As obviously traumatic as it must have been, she made it known to me personally as well as publicly on her Facebook that she is actively praying for the attacker to be healed of her mental illness.
‘She so strongly believes that salvation and forgiveness comes from Jesus Christ alone and is praying that she would receive that. She is so very trusting in Lord to keep her safe and I know that everyone is so inspired by her faith in God and willingness to keep her attacker in her prayers.’
Nick Gozik, director of the Boston College’s Office of International Programs, said the four women have been released from the Marseille hospital and ‘it appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances’.
French prosecutors are not investigating the incident as a terrorist attack. Police indicate that the attacker did not utter any terrorist threats at the time of the incident. “There is no terrorist character” in this attack, a police source said, adding that the attacker did not target the four American tourists because of their identity.