Police arrest man suspected of Paris newspaper shooting
Suspect had been involved in 1994 robbery which left four people dead
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls (centre) and Christian Flaesch (center right), director of the Paris’ judiciary police, speak to reporters this morning at the headquarters of the Paris police force. Photograph: Reuters
French police have arrested a man they suspect to be the gunman who spread panic across Paris for three days after shooting and critically injuring a young man at the offices of the newspaper Libération on Monday.
The suspect was named as Abdelhakim Dekhar, convicted in 1998 as an accomplice in a high-profile 1994 robbery and car chase that left three police officers and a taxi driver dead.
Dekhar served four years in prison in the so-called Rey-Maupin affair but authorities had no trace of him in recent years, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.
Dekhar was eventually discovered in a car in an underground car park at Bois-Colombes in the Paris suburb of Hauts-de-Seine yesterday evening.
Based on DNA data authorities believe he was the lone gunman behind Monday’s shooting at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation, a shooting outside French bank Societe Generale, a brief hostage-taking in which the suspect hijacked a car and a similar shooting incident three days before at news network BFM-TV.
Dekhar apparently tried to kill himself before he was arrested, Mr Valls told reporters early today.
He was said to bear a very strong resemblance to a man in photographs taken from security cameras. The rifle-toting man shot a young photographer’s assistant at Libération. He had previously threatened a senior editor at BFM TV on Friday evening.
Detectives were reportedly unable to question Dekhar because he was “semi-conscious”, having taken a quantity of medical drugs in a suspected attempt to kill himself.
He has been transferred to a Paris hospital where he remains under armed guard.
Police union official Christophe Crepin said the man appeared heavily medicated when he was detained. “My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines, because of the capsules nearby,” he said.
Police received several hundred calls after issuing photographs of the suspect on Tuesday. As the city-wide manhunt dragged on for a third day police were under pressure to find the attacker described as a lone gunman.
A man, described as between 35 and 45, stocky and European, fired twice after walking into the Libération offices on Monday morning.
He strolled into the entrance hall and opened fire, injuring a 23-year-old in the back, thorax and abdomen. The victim, who was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, was said yesterday to be making a good recovery.
The gunman then travelled to the Paris business district, La Défense, where he shot at the headquarters of the French bank Societé Générale.
Afterwards he hijacked a car, ordering the terrified driver to take him to the Champs-Elysées where he was last seen disappearing into a Metro station.
DNA tests were carried out on bullet casings the gunman had thrown to the ground at BFM TV, where he told the editor he threatened: “Next time I won’t miss”, and on traces in the vehicle car-jacked at La Défense.
The tests showed that the same man was responsible both attacks.