A lone gunman reportedly opened fire in central Paris two days before Christmas, instigating clashes between local police and protesters who took to the nearby streets shortly after the shooting.
A 69-year-old suspect has been taken into custody by Paris police after allegedly opening fire in a busy neighborhood of the French capital, killing three and wounding three others. One of the injured is in critical condition.
Though their identities have not been released to the public, the victims have all been confirmed as members of the Kurdish community.
French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin has since alleged that there were racist — but not necessarily anti-Kurd — motives behind the attack.
The primary suspect, currently only known to the public as William M., is a retired driver for the national railway, SNCF, and was previously known to police. He was charged twice with attempted murder, once in 2016 and again in 2021, when he reportedly attacked migrants living in an encampment with a sword.
According to the Paris prosecutor, Laure Beccuau, while the first incident had been appealed, the suspect had been imprisoned for the second murder attempt and was recently released.
The shooter is believed to have targeted the Kurdish cultural center Ahmet Kaya, as well as a nearby Kurdish barber and restaurant located in the narrow street of Rue d’Enghien, according to the borough’s mayor, Alexandra Cordebard.
“I am proud to be the mayor of a multicultural borough that respects everyone,” tweeted Mayor Cordebard. “Solidarity with the Kurdish people after this attack.”
Despite this call for solidarity, scores of agitated protesters took to nearby streets shortly after the incident. Some clashed with local police, who eventually utilized teargas to disperse the crowd, suggests videos posted to Twitter.
According to reporting by TF1 Info, at least some of the protesters were members of the Kurdish community.
The Democratic Council of Kurds in France has called for a vigil at the cultural center Friday evening and a demonstration on Saturday in response to the shooting.
It is believed that the suspect acted alone, and the incident has thus far not been deemed a terrorist attack. An investigation has been opened by local authorities.