A French national, known to French security services for radical Islamist activities and responsible for shooting two police officers in 2001, has struck again, this time killing one police officer and wounding three others on the Champs-Élysées on 9pm Thursday night (3pm ET). The suspect was shot and killed by French police in the attack.
The shooting hasn’t been officially declared a terrorist attack, however, sources close to the investigation claim that French investigators have reason to believe this was an attempt at one. It is also believed the gunman was acting alone and that the worst has past. The shooter’s identity will be released at a news conference on Friday, according to Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins.
“The people who were present have been evacuated and we are convinced that the leads which point us to this case, and which will allow us to uncover the truth, are of a terrorist nature,” Molins said in a statement. According to Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet, a car stopped in front of a police van at 102 Champs-Élysées, a man got out with an automatic weapon and opened fire on the van, killing one officer instantly.
Brandet said the man “then ran away, managing to shoot and wound two other policemen. Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker.” A female tourist was also wounded by the gunman. As a result of the shooting, the entire Champs-Élysées, one of Paris’ most popular tourist attractions and home to the iconic Arc de Triomphe, was shut down, rendering the avenue clear of tourists but absolutely teeming with police.
Although the attacker’s identity hasn’t yet to be released, it has been confirmed that he is the same gunman who shot two officers in 2001 after being pulled over by police. On that occasion he was taken into custody but grabbed another officer’s gun and shot him three times while being questioned. He was convicted of that attack and also had a criminal history of violent robberies.
ISIS issued a statement saying that a member of the Islamic State carried out this latest attack, however, there has been doubt cast upon the claim as they incorrectly identified the shooter as being Belgian. Security has been tight in Paris ahead of Sunday’s presidential and general elections, with two men being arrested in Marseille on Tuesday for allegedly planning an attack. Thursday night’s shooting took place just blocks away from the presidential palace, the Elysee.