French officials identify gunman in Paris shooting, heighten security for Sunday's presidential vote


French investigators said Friday they think a gunman was alone in killing one police officer and wounding two others and a female German tourist the night before on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Officials identified the 39-year-old gunman as Frenchman Karim Cheurfi. Cheurfi was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on officers.

The Paris prosecutor said Cheurfi had a note defending the Islamic State group with him.

Anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said during a news conference Friday that the note apparently fell out of Cheurfi’s pocket. Molins said the note praised Islamic State and listed the addresses of security sites.

The extremist group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack.

Molins said Cheurfi had a long police record, notably for trying to attack officers. The prosecutor said Cheurfi was arrested in February but later released for lack of evidence of a threat.

The policeman killed Thursday was identified as Xavier Jugele by Flag, a French association of LGBTQ police officers. Its president, Mickael Bucheron, said Jugele would have celebrated his 38th birthday at the beginning of May.

Meanwhile, French officials on Friday reviewed the government’s already heightened security plans for the presidential election, a two-part process with voting Sunday and May 7.

“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. “Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night.”

The two police officers injured in the attack are out of danger, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said. National police spokesman Jerome Bonet, also speaking on BFM television, said that thousands of people were out on Paris’ iconic boulevard when the gunman opened fire and that the rapid response of officers who shot and killed him avoided possible “carnage.”

Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack and detained three of the gunman’s family members for questioning.

The attack appeared to fit a pattern of European extremists targeting security forces and symbols of state to discredit, take vengeance on or destabilize society. It recalled two recent attacks on French soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris: one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

For Sunday’s presidential vote, the government is mobilizing more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect the 70,000 polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol.



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