A French family jumped from a seventh -floor balcony in the western Swiss town of Montreux on Thursday after officers knocked on their door, leaving four dead and a teenager in serious condition.
The situation surrounding the family drama in the upscale neighborhood of the picturesque city on the shores of Lake Geneva remains unclear.
But police said five members of the same family – a man, 40, his wife, 41, and his twin brother, along with the couple’s daughter, eight, and son, 15 – had come out of the balcony after two officers showed up to reach the door of the house they are early Thursday.
All of them except the boy died when they crashed to the ground, while the boy was taken to hospital in serious condition, police said.
“Officers were unable to enter the apartment, and apparently at the time, the decision was made by this family to evacuate from the balcony,” Jean Christophe Sauterel, a spokesman for the Vaud cantonal police, told public broadcaster RTS.
An investigation has been opened, but police have already concluded that the incident took place “behind closed doors”, and no one else was in the apartment at the time, he said.
The investigation should help determine “what caused these people to do this”, Sauterel told AFP. “As it turns out, investigators are not rejecting any theories.”
‘Like a bad movie’
Officers at the apartment door had been there to execute a warrant for the father in connection with schooling at the son’s home, police said.
They knocked on the door and heard voices asking who they were, but as soon as they answered, the apartment went silent, he said.
After failing to contact, the officer left, but “in the meantime, a witness called police to say that people had fallen from the apartment’s balcony,” the statement said.
The body was found at the foot of the building, near the famous Casino in Montreux around 7:00 am (0600 GMT).
“I saw five bodies about 10 meters from the building, three on one side and two on the other,” a neighbor told the daily Tribune de Geneve.
“It’s hard to understand what I saw. It’s like a bad movie.”
Sauterel said witnesses who called had seen family members crash to the ground, and were receiving professional support.
Several others related to the drama, as well as first responders have also been offered counseling, he said.
The family are all French nationals who have lived in Switzerland for “several years” and have resident status, he said.
“We know that this is a relatively quiet family, with little contact with the outside,” Sauterel told AFP, adding that they have no problem with the law outside of the issue of the boy’s schooling.
The case, he explained, had arisen because the family failed to respond to requests for information from the school, which is routine when children go to school at home.
“The police were asked to take his father to explain his son’s schooling situation,” he explained.
According to the Tribune de Geneve, the neighbor said his father appeared to work from home.
Her mother is a dentist who used to work in Paris, while her twin sister is an ophthalmologist.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)