Henry Samuel, Telegraph, October 3, 2019
Three officers and an administrative assistant were stabbed to death at Paris police headquarters by an employee who went on a rampage after evading security with a ceramic knife.
The 45-year old, named by local media as Mickaël H, had worked for 20 years in the IT department of the police intelligence section in offices in Paris’ central île de la Cité, a stone’s throw from Notre Dame cathedral.
He was shot dead at the scene after killing three men and a woman.
Police sources said the assailant, who was partially deaf and reportedly converted to Islam 18 months ago, was “in conflict” with his superiors. Police last night said they had not determined a terror links.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner said the assailant had had “never shown any behavioural problems”. The police were “struck to the heart” by the exceptionally grave incident, he added.
Three of the dead were police officers and the fourth was an administrative assistant. A fifth person who was critically injured was being treated in hospital.
Union official Loic Travers said the attack on Thursday appears to have begun in an office and continued elsewhere inside the large compound across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral.
A murder investigation was launched and the man’s home in Gonesse, a working class suburb north of Paris was searched.
His wife was also taken in for questioning. Christophe Crépin, spokesman for the union France Police Policeman in Anger, said: “I, unfortunately, know this man. He worked in IT and he had long-running problems with his superior.” “He lost the plot and stabbed her first and then colleagues intervened and were stabbed as well.”
“Did he snap, or was there some other reason? It’s still too early to say,” Mr Travers, head of the Alliance Police union for the Paris region, told BFM television. He added that he could not remember an attack on police officers of this magnitude.
One unnamed witness present told Le Parisien: ”I saw a man with a knife in his hand. “He was running towards a police officer. (The officer) gave him several warnings but he didn’t stop and the policeman opened fire.”
“People were running everywhere, there was crying everywhere,” said Emery Siamandi, a police interpreter.
President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo attended the scene.
“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 Hidalgo tweeted.
The attack came a day after almost 30,000 police staged a “march in anger” in Paris over working conditions, low morale and a spike in police suicides, which have hit 52 this year above the annual average of 42.
The French force is exhausted after months of yellow vest protests, which saw protesters target officers who were themselves accused of heavy-handed use of stun grenades.
Organisers said 27,000 police of all levels and union persuasions came together at Bastille for the first time since 2001 when they took to the streets en masse in outrage at the release of an armed robber who had murdered two officers.
Attacks against police have shot up 15 per cent this year in the wake of the yellow vest revolt and violent clashes with black bloc anarchists.
Dozens of tourists approached the police cordon, initially fearful of a terror attack. Extremists have repeatedly targeted French police in France in recent years.
In 2017, a gunman opened fire on the Champs-Elysees 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.