Civil­ian em­ployee kills 4 in knife at­tack at Paris po­lice HQ

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Sylvie Cor­bet and Lori Hin­nant

PARIS — A civil­ian em­ployee raged through Paris po­lice head­quar­ters with a knife Thurs­day, stab­bing four po­lice col­leagues to death be­fore he was shot and killed, French authoritie­s said.

The man, a tech­nol­ogy ad­min­is­tra­tor in the po­lice in­tel­li­gence unit, launched the at­tack in his of­fice then moved to other parts of the large 19th­cen­tury build­ing across the street from Notre Dame Cathe­dral.

Three of the peo­ple he killed were po­lice of­fi­cers, the fourth an ad­min­is­tra­tor, the Paris pros­e­cu­tor said.

An of­fi­cer stopped the at­tack when he shot the as­sailant in the com­pound’s court­yard, said a po­lice of­fi­cial. The of­fi­cial re­quested anonymity.

The em­ployee who car­ried out the at­tack had worked for the city’s po­lice force since 2003 with­out ever arous­ing con­cerns, French In­te­rior Min­is­ter Christophe Cas­taner said.

“This man was known in­side the com­puter depart­ment, he worked along­side his col­leagues and never pre­sented any be­hav­ioral dif­fi­cul­ties,” Cas­taner said.

Paris pros­e­cu­tor Remy Heitz said authoritie­s opened a murder in­ves­ti­ga­tion, for the mo­ment rul­ing out a ter­ror­ism in­quiry. He said the 45-year-old as­sailant’s home was be­ing searched.

Three of the vic­tims were men and one was a woman, Heitz said. A depart­ment em­ployee wounded in the ram­page un­der­went emer­gency surgery, Cas­taner said.

Emery Sia­mandi, who works at po­lice head­quar­ters, said he was in the stair­well lead­ing to the chief ’s of­fice when he heard gun­shots.

“I told my­self, this isn’t right,” Sia­mandi said. “Mo­ments later, I saw three po­lice­women cry­ing. I couldn’t help them in any way, and their col­leagues were cry­ing too, so I fig­ured it must be se­ri­ous.”

“It’s the worst sce­nario pos­si­ble, an in­ter­nal at­tack with col­leagues work­ing to­gether,” said Philippe Capon of the UNSA po­lice union.

Capon cau­tioned against jump­ing to con­clu­sions on the mo­tive and said, “Noth­ing can be ruled out, in­clud­ing a per­sonal is­sue.”

The at­tack came a day af­ter thou­sands of of­fi­cers marched in Paris to protest low wages, long hours and in­creas­ing sui­cides in their ranks.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron stopped by po­lice head­quar­ters to show sol­i­dar­ity with of­fi­cers and depart­ment em­ploy­ees, his of­fice said.

The neigh­bor­hood where the po­lice com­pound is lo­cated, a busy tourist des­ti­na­tion, was locked down, the Cite metro stop was closed and the bridge be­tween Notre Dame and the head­quar­ters build­ing was blocked off.

“Paris weeps for its own this af­ter­noon af­ter this ter­ri­fy­ing at­tack in the po­lice head­quar­ters. The toll is heavy, sev­eral of­fi­cers lost their lives,” Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo tweeted.

Ex­trem­ists have re­peat­edly tar­geted French po­lice in France in re­cent years. In 2017, a gun­man opened fire on the Champs-Élysées boule­vard, killing one of­fi­cer be­fore he was shot to death.

In 2016, an at­tack in­spired by the Is­lamic State group killed a po­lice of­fi­cer and his com­pan­ion, an ad­min­is­tra­tor, at their home in front of their child.

BER­TRAND GUAY/GETTY-AFP

French sol­diers stand guard near Paris po­lice head­quar­ters af­ter four of­fi­cers were killed.

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