22 Apr 2017

France: Champs Elysees gunman named

7:08 am on 22 April 2017

The gunman killed after shooting a police officer dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris has been named by prosecutor as convicted criminal Karim Cheurfi.

A picture taken on April 21, 2017 in Paris shows a photo and a letter displayed at the site of a shooting on the Champs Elysees

Police officer Xavier Jugelé, pictured, was shot and killed during the attack. Photo: AFP

Cheurfi used a Kalashnikov assault rifle to kill the police officer with two bullets to the head, prosecutor rançois Molins said.

A note defending Islamic State (IS) was found near his body but he had no apparent link to Islamist radicalism, Mr Molins said.

IS has said one of its "fighters" carried out the attack.

Cheurfi had four criminal convictions, the prosecutor said, and he had spoken about wanting to kill police officers

Candidates in Sunday's presidential election have been accused of exploiting the attack politically.

What do we know about the killer?

Cheurfi was arrested and his home searched in February after an inquiry was opened over reports that he had been talking of killing police and getting weapons, Mr Molins said.

Hunting knives, masks and a GoPro camera were found but this was not considered sufficient proof of his murderous intent.

"At that stage, no link with the radical Islamist movement was apparent," Mr Molins said.

"Nothing justified further investigations by my office."

Born on New Year's Eve in 1977 in the Livry-Gargan suburb of north-eastern Paris, Cheurfi was jailed four times for attempted murder, violence and theft.

In April 2001, while driving a stolen car, he fired on and wounded two men who had chased him, one of them a plain clothes police officer.

He most recently left prison in October 2015 and was living in the eastern suburb of Chelles.

His lawyer described him as psychologically fragile and neighbours in Chelles said he had never shown any interest in religion.

Three members of the gunman's family were arrested for questioning.

People hold their hands up as they walk towards police officers before being controlled near the site of a shooting at the Champs Elysees in Paris on April 20, 2017.

People hold their hands up as they walk towards police officers before being controlled near the site of a shooting at the Champs Elysees. Photo: AFP

How did the attack unfold?

Driving an Audi, the gunman arrived in the Champs Elysees area just after 8.45pm (local time) yesterday and drove up to a police bus parked on the avenue, Mr Molins said.

Getting out, he opened fire at the driver's window, killing a police officer inside. The officer has been named as Xavier Jugelé.

He then went around the bus and fired on two police officers posted outside a Turkish tourist office. It was announced earlier that two officers had been injured.

Security forces later shot Cheurfi dead.

Terrified eyewitnesses later recounted scenes of panic as they ran for cover.

Recent terror attacks in France

  • 20 April 2017 - A known terror suspect opens fire at police on the Champs Elysees in Paris, killing one and wounding two. He is shot dead - and the assault is claimed by IS.
  • 3 February 2017 - A machete-wielding Egyptian man shouting "Allahu akbar" attacks French soldiers at Paris's Louvre Museum - he is shot and wounded.
  • 26 July 2016 - Two attackers slits the throat of a priest at his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy. They are shot dead by police.
  • 14 July 2016 - A huge lorry mows down a crowd of people on the Nice beachfront during Bastille Day celebrations, killing 86. IS claims the attack - by a Tunisian-born driver, later shot dead by police.
  • 13 June 2016 -A knife-wielding jihadist kills a police officer and his partner at their home in Magnanville, west of Paris. He declares allegiance to IS, and police later kill him.
  • 13 November 2015 - IS jihadists armed with bombs and assault rifles attack Paris, targeting the national stadium, cafes and Bataclan concert hall. The co-ordinated assault leaves 130 people dead, and more than 350 wounded.
  • 7-9 January 2015 - Two Islamist gunmen storm the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 17 people. Another Islamist militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris. Four hostages are killed before police shoot the gunman dead. The other two gunmen are cornered and killed by police in a siege.

-BBC

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