Friday 18 October 2019

'No warning signs' - Paris police employee stabs four to death in force HQ before being shot dead

  • Attacker worked in police IT department
  • Minister: there were no warning signs
  • French TV says attacker converted to Islam
  • Attack happened near Notre Dame cathedral
Armed soldiers patrol after the incident in Paris (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Armed soldiers patrol after the incident in Paris (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A helicopter is parked on the Pont Marie bridge after the incident at police headquarters (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

Simon Carraud and Geert De Clercq

A 45-year-old IT assistant at the police headquarters in central Paris went on a knife rampage inside the building on Thursday, killing three police officers and an administrative worker before he was shot dead by an officer, French officials said.

French broadcaster BFM TV said the attacker had converted to Islam 18 months ago.

Officials did not say anything about the motive for the attack and they said they were still trying to discover if there was a terrorism link.

The area around the police headquarters, which is close to Notre-Dame Cathedral, was sealed off and a metro station was shut for security reasons as the attack unfolded.

People hug as they leave Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
People hug as they leave Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Police officers stand guard outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center, and Paris police prefect Didier Lallement, right next to Castaner, give a press conference outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police officers control an area outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers control the perimeter outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center, and Paris police prefect Didier Lallement, second right, leave the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police officers stand outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police officers guard one entrance of the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A masked police officer stands next to a police tape after an incident in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A helicopter is parked on the Pont Marie bridge after an incident at the police headquarters in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police officers stand guard outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
French police and firefighters are seen in front of the Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
French police is seen in front of the Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Security personnel is seen after an attack on the police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Security personnel is seen after an attack on the police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
French police and firefighters are seen at the entrance of the police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The dead were three men and a woman, according to Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz. Another person was wounded and is undergoing surgery.

Heitz said police were searching the attacker's home, and that anti-terrorist investigators were evaluating what had happened, for any terrorist links. The attackers wife had been brought into police custody but not charged, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Police officers control the perimeter outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers control the perimeter outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Speaking outside the police headquarters, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the attacker was known to his colleagues and had worked for some time in the IT department.

"He had never presented any behavioural issues, he had never presented the slightest cause for alarm before going on his deadly rampage today," Castaner said.

Police officers control an area outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers control an area outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A police official and member of the collective "Police up in Anger", which lobbies for better conditions for officers, was quoted by franceinfo radio as saying the assailant had experienced issues with his supervisor.

"I know there were tensions between him and his direct supervisor," Christophe Crepin told franceinfo. "I do not think this is a terrorist act."

Police officers stand outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police officers stand outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Jean-Marc Bailleul, a police union leader, described the incident as criminal rather than an act of terror. "It was a moment of madness," Bailleul told BFM TV.

In the past four years, the French capital has been rocked by violent attacks resulting in mass casualties.

French police and firefighters are seen in front of the Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
French police and firefighters are seen in front of the Paris Police headquarters in Paris, France, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Coordinated bombings and shootings by Islamist militants in November 2015, at the Bataclan theatre and other locations around Paris, killed 130 people in the deadliest attacks in France since World War Two.

In a three-day killing spree in January 2015, Islamist gunmen killed reporters and illustrators at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police officers, and shoppers at a Jewish supermarket.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News