Monday 21 October 2019

Suicide at Notre Dame cathedral

Police seal off Notre Dame after the shooting (AP)
Police seal off Notre Dame after the shooting (AP)

A man has shot himself dead at the altar of Notre Dame cathedral, forcing police to evacuate tourists from the 850-year-old monument.

It's the first suicide in decades at the landmark site, rector Monsignor Patrick Jacquin said.

"It's unfortunate, it's dramatic, it's shocking," he said. The motives for the suicide, and the contents of a letter he left at the altar, were unclear.

Police officers closed the cathedral to the public and were investigating. It is highly unusual for the cathedral, visited by 13 million people from around the world every year, to be evacuated.

Police, the Paris prosecutor and church employees gathered inside the cathedral, while puzzled tourists crowded outside on the island in the Seine River where the cathedral has stood since the 12th century. This year Notre Dame got new bells as part of celebrations marking 850 years since construction on the cathedral began.

The death comes less than a week after another unusual suicide in central Paris, when a man shot himself in front of a dozen schoolchildren at a private Catholic school.

Msgr Jacquin said a few people had committed suicide by jumping from Notre Dame's twin towers, but he did not know of anyone ever committing suicide on the altar. The Eiffel Tower occasionally shuts down because of suicides or attempts to jump off its ledges.

PA Media

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