Far-right activist kills himself in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

78-year-old shoots himself in front of altar

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Tue, May 21, 2013, 19:56

Police evacuated Notre Dame cathedral in Paris today after a well-known far-right former activist shot himself in the mouth in front of its main altar, a police source said.

The man, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, is a historian known in France for his far-right political essays. He carried a letter on his person but made no declaration before shooting himself dead in the mid-afternoon, the source said.

A note posted on his blog dated May 21st slammed a law passed by the Socialist government last week allowing same-sex marriage.

Notre Dame is one of Paris’ most visited tourist attractions.

It is 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 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. The Eiffel Tower occasionally shuts down because of suicides or attempts to jump off its ledges