PARIS: France on Thursday named a man arrested over dramatic shootings in Paris this week as Abdelhakim Dekhar, previously jailed for his role in a “Bonnie-and-Clyde” style multiple murder, and said his DNA matched samples from the scene of the attacks.
The suspect was arrested on Wednesday after a major manhunt following Monday’s shooting at left-wing newspaper Liberation, which critically wounded a photographer, and a subsequent shooting outside the offices of bank Societe Generale.
France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls identified him as Dekhar, who served four years in jail for his role in a “Bonnie-and-Clyde” style multiple homicide that gripped France in the 1990s.
In a late-night press conference the minister praised police for their handling of Dekhar’s arrest, saying that “all the evidence today points to his involvement in the events that he has been charged with.”
Dekhar, who is in his late 40s, was convicted in 1998 of buying a gun used in an October 1994 shooting attack by student Florence Rey and her lover Audry Maupin, in which three policemen and a taxi driver were killed.
He was arrested around 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Manila time) in a vehicle in an underground parking lot in the northwestern Paris suburb of Bois-Colombes, after apparently trying to commit suicide.
Valls said that “everything appears to point to a suicide attempt,” and sources said Dekhar was semi-conscious when he was found.
The head of the Paris criminal police department Christian Flaesch said he was in custody in a “medical environment” and was not in a fit state to speak to investigators.
Police tested Dekhar’s DNA against samples taken at the sites of the various attacks, announcing early on Thursday that the samples matched.
Earlier, DNA tests confirmed that a single person was responsible for the series of attacks across Paris in the last week, including hijacking a car on the famed Champs Elysees and threatening staff at a 24-hour television station.
The motive for the shootings remains unclear. Valls said investigators would need more information about the suspect’s past to be able to “understand his motivation.”
The man opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun at the offices of Liberation early on Monday, shooting a 23-year-old photographer’s assistant as he hauled gear in the lobby, then firing another blast that hit the roof before leaving within seconds.
He then crossed the city to the La Defense business district on its western edge, where he fired several shots outside the main office of the Societe Generale bank, hitting no one. AFP