Man killed when taking soldier’s gun at Paris airport had earlier shot, injured officer: French authorities

Posted at 8:25 AM, Mar 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-18 09:11:01-04

PARIS — A man who tried to seize a soldier’s gun at Paris Orly Airport was involved in a carjacking and another shooting at a traffic stop, French authorities said Saturday.

Security forces opened fire, killing the man during the morning attack at the airport.

The attacker was known to police and intelligence services, and was involved in a shooting at a police traffic stop north of Paris that morning, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said at a news conference. He fled the scene.

A police officer injured during the traffic stop incident is undergoing treatment but is not seriously injured, he said.

The anti-terror prosecutor has opened an investigation, said Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre, spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Attacker tried to tackle soldier

At the airport, the attacker tried to tackle a female soldier and take her weapon, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. He was shot dead by two of the soldier’s colleagues, who were on patrol with her.

They responded with “great professionalism,” he said.

This was the fourth attack against security forces deployed as part of France’s Operation Sentinel, Le Drian said. The national security operation was launched following the Paris terror attacks in January 2015.

Le Roux praised the swift response of security forces at the airport.

No one else was injured in the airport incident, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

Traffic stop

The traffic stop where his identity papers were checked was in Garges-lès-Gonesse, north of Paris, Thibault-Lecuivre said. The man later stole another vehicle at gunpoint in Vitry-sur-Seine, she said, on the southern outskirts of Paris near the airport.

He was born in 1978 and was known to police for armed robbery and drug trafficking, she added.

Bomb squad called in

The airport was evacuated as an elite operations unit and bomb squad officers rushed to the scene. Local authorities said the bomb squad had finished its search for explosives.

Air traffic at both Orly South and Orly West remains suspended, the president of Paris Airports Augustin de Romanet said, adding that he discouraged people from coming to the scene.

Avoid airport

The police also urged the public to avoid the airport, follow instructions and not to cross the security perimeter.

With roads around the airport closed off, some travelers earlier tried to make their way to the airport on foot with their baggage.

Air traffic has been suspended at the airport, with some flights rerouted to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Paris Orly Airport is France’s second-busiest airport, with international and domestic air traffic.