On the late evening of February 12, Friday, several hundred people were left traumatized and some of them were hurt as an atmosphere of panic and fear spread out at a casino in France where an armed robbery was taking place. Authorities are searching for at least four suspects who stormed into the Pasino casino located in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.
On that Friday night, the gambling hall was in full swing, with hundreds of patrons inside the premises, when suddenly four masked men wielding Kalashnikov firearms (a type of automatic rifle made in Russia) rushed inside and fired multiple warning shots into the ceiling before they headed to the cashier. A chaotic mess occurred as a result of the gun shots, and fearing that a terrorist attack is currently in progress, swarms of people (reported to be around 700) scrambled to safety.
Hugo, a man who was playing roulette with four of his friends told France Info, "People took shelter under the tables, others ran for the emergency exit. We arrived at a door and tried to barricade it as quickly as possible as everyone thought it was a terrorist attack."
Another casino patron said that most of the people who panicked were "trampling over those who had fallen over, it was the behaviour of animals." He also said that the way the men behaved and the way they took the time to conceal their faces, he quickly deduced that they were nothing more than robbers. Even if he tried to calm others around him, people still panicked, causing a stampede that resulted in multiple minor injuries amongst 15 casino patrons.
France still remembers the recent Islamist terrorist bombings and shootings that claimed the lives of 130 people in Paris last November 2015, and because of this, many French citizens remain cautious as ever.
Laurent Nunez, the regional police chief, reassured the public and told the Associated Press that the incident was "absolutely not a terrorist act".
The robbers were able to take with them about €3,000 of the casino's cash as well as €30,000 worth of casino chips. They then got away via a powerful car which they abandoned later and they even set it on fire.
Despite the terrible ordeal, the casino managed to reopen the next day, but they added extra security throughout the place.