Paris shootings: French police hunt lone gunman

French police were desperately hunting a lone gunman who was behind two shootings in the French capital on Monday as well as a car-jacking. President François Hollande said the gunman had the potential to kill and "must be stopped". Catch up on the dramatic day's events here.

IN PICTURES: Gunman brings terror to streets of Paris

Paris shootings RECAP:

  • A huge manhunt is currently underway across Paris to track down the gunman behind two shootings in Paris on Monday.
  • The French capital was gripped by fear earlier in the day when a lone gunman, believed to be carrying grenades and a sawn-off shotgun, opened fire at the offices of left-wing newspaper Libération, leaving a photographer critically wounded. The same man is then believed to have fired shots at Société Géneral bank in La Défense financial district, before taking a motorist hostage and demanding to be dropped off on the Champs-Elysées. He then went to ground.
  • Liberation said the victim had just arrived for his first day's freelance work at the newspaper, as an assistant on a photo-shoot for its supplement Next. He suffered buckshot wounds to his stomach and chest, the paper said.
  • Police are asking any witnesses to come forward to help their investigation. Members of the public can ring 0800-00-27-08 if they have any information that might help police. The email address [email protected] has also been made available.
  • The motive for the shootings remains unknown.
  • The suspect is described as aged 40 to 45 years old, stout, with a shaved head, wearing a cap and light jeans as well as a khaki coloured parka coat. He was carrying a black sports bag and was wearing green and white trainers.
  • See below for a full recap of the day's events:

(One of the photos taken from CCTV of the suspect, released by French police.)

Paris shootings latest:

  • 5:50pm: BFMTV have realeased this short VIDEO clip which shows the terrifying moment when the gunman threatened staff at its offices on Friday. Click below to see the video.
  • 5:38pm: Paris police have set up a dedicated emergency phone number for members of the public to share any information they might have about the suspected gunman. That number is 0800-00-2708.
  • 5:36pm: More details released by prosecutors of his description: the suspect has a two to three day old beard, as well as some grey hair. He is 1.70m to 1.80m tall and was wearing green and white trainers.
  • 5:35pm: Police confirm they are working on the theory that one lone gunman is responsible for the two shootings and car-jacking in Paris today, as well as an incident at the offices of BFMTV on Friday when members of staff were threatened.
  • 5:15pm: French prosecutor François Molins says in a press conference that the suspect is no longer believed to be around the Champs Elysees, but will not say in which direction he is believed to have gone in.
  • 5.10pm: Libération says the 33-year-old photographer shot at their offices this morning had just arrived for his first day of work as a freelancer with the newspaper. There is no update on the victim’s condition, but earlier in the day Le Parisien claimed he had been undergoing surgery after sustaining buckshot wounds to his stomach and chest.
  • 5:05pm: French President François Hollande speaking from Israel says: “The shooter has the potential to kill. The priority is to stop him.” He also added: “We need to protect the press. All the forces have been mobilised.”
  • 4.47pm: BFM television released this CCTV photo of the man who threatened staff and journalists there with a pump action shotgun on Friday. He is believed to be the same individual suspected of today's shootings and hostage taking.
  • 4.33pm: Judicial source tells Le Parisien that the suspected gunman told a motorist in Nanterre: “I've escaped from prison, drive me to the Champs Elysées.” The 65-year-old carjacking victim didn't realize who the man was until he returned home and watched the news on television, according to Le Parisien.
  • 4.21pm: Paris police confirm to The Local that the state prosecutor will hold a press conference at 5pm Paris time. A police sketch of the suspected gunman may be released at the time, though that is unconfirmed.
  • 3.55pm: Security has been boosted at media offices across Paris as well as at Société Générale in La Défense. However despite the day's events there is no sense of panic, with one banker at Société Géneral saying colleagues were more worried about the French stock exchange than a gunman on the run. A member of staff at Le Figaro newspaper also told The Local they were free to come and go despite the heightened security. A journalist who works at the offices of Telerama, a member of Le Monde group said: “We had police officers stationed in front of the building and in the park adjacent this morning and early afternoon but they seem to have gone now. And no-one has told us not to go out. We’re in the middle of deadline and every now and then someone gives us an update.” 
  • 3.50pm: The Local understands a press conference will be held at 5pm Paris time, in which police will make a public appeal for help and release an image of the suspect. They have so far declined to release a CCTV image of the shooting suspect, apparently not wanting to cause further panic in the French capital.
  • 3.46pm: This photo is doing the rounds on Twitter and appears to show a policeman looking at a printed CCTV image of the suspect.  The tweet reads: “Police are hunting a man in his 40s, with a shaved head, with the look of a hunter.”
  • 3.39 pm: The website of Libération, where a photographer was critically injured in the day's first shooting, suffered what it called a malicious “denial of service” attack earlier in the afternoon, which continues to prevent updates to their site. It is not known whether or how that attack was linked to the main events of the day.
  • 3:32 pm: According to France Info radio, based at Maison de la Radio, the alert has been lifted there, after earlier reported sightings of a man matching the descruption of the gunman. This tweet by a journalist at France Info radio shows a security guard at Maison de la Radio wearing a bullet-proof vest.
  • A man matching the description of the gunman was seen in the vicinity of the “Maison de La Radio”,  home to Radio France, by the banks of the River Seine, not far from the Champs Elysees. Several reports say staff have been told to remain inside the building. These reports have been unconfirmed.  

This map shows the location of “Maison de la Radio” in Paris.

  • 2.43pm: “We must move quickly”: 

    France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said “the police will work tirelessly to hunt down this individual. As long as he is on the run and we don’t know his motives, he represents a real danger. We must move quickly.”

  • 2.40pm: The latest from Paris police: The Prefecture of police in Paris announced that a major police operation is currently underway in the Champs-Elysées area to try to track down the suspect, who is on the run. 
  • 2.30pm: This map shows the location of the incidents on Monday, which began with a shooting in the 3rd Arrondissement at the offices of Libération, there was then a shooting at Société Générale in La Défense to the west of Paris, before a motorist was carjacked by the suspect near Nanterre. The gunman then got out of the car on the Champs-Elysées where he was last seen.

  • 2.20pm: Various reports emerging about where the man headed after being dropped off on the Champs-Elysées by a motorist whom he had taken hostage. Some reports claim he was seen going into a Metro station whereas RTL radio reports he was seen heading towards the Trocadero and the banks of the River Seine.  French police say they are doing everything to track him down and are apparently in possession of a photograph of the suspect.
  • 2.15pm: Francisco Alvarez, a witness to the shooting at Société Générale in La Défense said“I saw this guy with a cap and a shotgun, a pump-action shotgun, in his

    hand,” Alvarez told AFP. “I don't think he was necessarily targeting anyone, he shot in the air then into a window. The first shot shocked everyone into silence and then the second caused a general panic. Then he ran away down the steps to the street.”
  • 2.10pm: Although police have not yet been able to confirm the same man is behind all three incidents on Monday (Libération and Société Générale shootings, and a car jacking), officers have said that CCTV images of the shooter suggested he was the same man who had stormed into the Paris headquarters of news channel BFMTV on Friday (see below).
  • 2pm: Latest description of suspect, still on the run, is as follows: A man aged 40 to 45 years old, stout, shaved head, wearing a cap and light jeans as well as a khaki coloured parka coat. He is carrying a black sports bag.
  • 1.42pm: A journalist from France2 television reports the suspect got on the Paris Metro at the Champs-Elysées after getting out of a vehicle he had car-jacked. These reports have not been confirmed.
  • 1.40pm: French radio Europe1 reports that the man is wearing a khaki coat, a beret or a cap and is armed with a shotgun and possibly grenades.
  • 1.38pm: A major mahunt is underway in the famous Champs-Elysées area of Paris. Police believe the suspect behind the shootings at newspaper Libération and the bank Société Générale is the same man who took a motorist hostage in the west of Paris before demanding to be dropped off on the Champs-Elysées. He is believed to have got out of the car outside the George V hotel on the famous avenue. The victim then managed to raise the alarm. This tweet shows a police helicopter hovering overhead.
  • 1.26pm: Latest reports from Le Parisien newspaper say the person taken hostage on the Champs Elysées has now been released. No word on status of the hostage taker, but the Champs Elysées is “on lockdown”, according to reports in French press.
  • 1.24pm: A statement from the Elysée presidential palace reads: President François Hollande “learned with sadness of the armed attack at the offices of Libération. The head of state has asked the Minister of the Interior to mobilise all means possible to determine the circumstances around these attacks and to stop the those responsible for them.”
  • 1:17pm: French journalist Hugo Clement claims that, according to police sources, after the shootings at Libération and Société Générale, a man matching the description of the shooter in both incidents, took a motorist hostage at Nanterre, demanding to be dropped off on the Champs Elysées.
  • 1:07pm: Unconfirmed reports from a French journalist on Twitter that a man has been taken hostage on the Champs Elysées, with police allegedly saying it could be related to earlier shootings
  • 12:51pm: France's Interior Minister says description of gunman in second shooting at Société Général in La Défense matches that of the gunman who opened fire at offices of Liberation earlier on Monday, according to AFP.
  • 12:40pm: Confirmed reports of a second shooting at offices of French bank Société Général in La Défense. According to reports security guards at the tower spotted the armed man, who then opened fire. No one was reported injured in the incident. The gunman then fled the scene.

RECAP: A man opened fire with a sawn-off pump-action shotgun at the Paris offices of left-wing French newspaper Libération on Monday morning.

At least one person, believed to be a 27-year-old photographer's assistant, was injured in the shooting. Libération itself said the victim had been shot in the stomach and thorax, and was in a “critical” condition in hospital.

Later on Monday, French bank Société Générale confirmed reports of a second shooting at their headquarters in the Paris financial district  La Défense.

The gunman in the first incident is reported to have used a sawn-off pump-action shotgun in the attack, which took place at around 10.15 am at the offices on Rue Beranger in the 3rd arrondissement of the capital.

“I was just arriving for work and I saw a man lying on the ground, holding his stomach and with blood everywhere,” Liberation journalist Anastasia Vecrin told AFP.

According to France Info radio, the attacker has been described as appearing to be aged in his 40s, with a shaved head, wearing a long green coat and bullet-proof vest.

A journalist at Libération tweeted that the attacker had fired two to three shots on the ground floor of the premises before fleeing on foot.

Police have erected a security cordon around the left-wing daily newspaper's offices, according to AFP.

Though the precise circumstances and motivation of the assailant are not yet known, Libération's director Nicolas Demorand has reacted with outrage to the shooting.

“We are the horrified witnesses of a tragedy,” he told AFP. “When someone walks into a newspaper with a gun, that's very very serious in a democracy, regardless of the mental state of that person,” he added.

“If papers and other media have to become bunkers, something has gone wrong in our society.”

Monday's shooting comes just three days after an armed man burst into the Paris offices of BFM television, threatening journalists and staff there before fleeing.

The suspect in that incident is said to have told terrified witnesses “Next time I won't miss you,” according to a police source cited by Libération, who added: “Obviously we're going to try and see if there is a link between these two incidents.”

Police have been posted outside the Paris offices of major French media outlets including Le Monde, Le Figaro and Les Echos, and Europe 1 radio, according to Libération.

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë and police chief Bernard Boucault are at the scene of today's shooting. Manuel Valls and Aurelie Filippetti – French ministers of the Interior and of Culture respectively – are expected to arrive in the afternoon.

There was no response from Libération when The Local tried to contact the newspaper.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.