New York – French media has released the identity of the lone gunman who shot two police officers in Paris Thursday, killing one. He was 39-year-old Paris resident, Karim Cheurfi.
Police officials are describing Cheurfi as someone who had been on their radar as a potential Islamist radical. According to the Associated Press (AP), he had a history of violent confrontations with police and, in 2003, had been convicted of attempted homicide in the shooting of two other police officers.
According to the same source, Cheurfi had been detained just last February for uttering threats against police officers. At the time, authorities were forced to release him due to a lack of evidence.
French police are in the process of searching Cheurfi’s home and have detained three family members for questioning, which has become routine in such investigations. A second man who is suspected of having acted as an accomplice in the attack has turned himself in to Belgian police.
National Police spokesman, Jerome Bonet, told France’s BFM television that at the time of Thursday’s shooting, the Champs Elysees boulevard was packed with thousands of pedestrians. He is crediting the fast response of the other officers on scene in killing the shooter, with preventing what he calls “carnage.”
Concern is quickly growing over security issues for Sunday’s election vote. France’s Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said, “Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country.”
A high-level meeting was held on Friday to review the country’s security measures for the day. Officials are reporting that more than 50,000 police personnel have been mobilized to provide enhanced security for the event.