A shooting in Paris on Friday killed three people and wounded at least three others in a busy neighborhood ahead of the holiday weekend.
Paris police closed off a street of shops and restaurants in the 10th arrondissement (district) of Paris near the Gare de l’Est train station. The street was buzzing with shoppers ahead of Christmas, but police have advised shoppers to avoid the area.
“We were walking in the street and heard gunshots,” Ali Dalek, a witness, told the BBC. “We turned around and saw people running left and right, and then, five or six minutes later, because we know people who work at the hair salon, we went in, and we saw that they had arrested a guy – an old man, elderly, tall.”
Officers arrested a 69-year-old suspect with a prior record, including an arrest for attacking migrants living in tents. The previous attack occurred in Dec. 2021, and it was not clear why he had been released, according to the BBC.
The police apprehended the suspect without resistance and reportedly found the weapon used in the attack, but the suspect sustained an injury to the face. Three other people have gone to the hospital for treatment, with one of them in critical condition.
Alexandra Cordebard, mayor of the 10th arrondissement, said that the “real motivation for the shooting remains unclear.” Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said anti-terrorism prosecutors have been in contact with investigators but have not indicated any sign of a terrorist motive.
Police have instead considered a possible racist motive for the shooting as it occurred near a Kurdish cultural center. In 2013, three women Kurdish activists were shot dead at the same center. A Turkish citizen was charged with the killing, but many suspected the Turkish intelligence service.
A nearby crowd accused the criminal of acting in the interests of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with chants of “Erdogan, terrorist” and “Turkish state, assassin” while Cordebard spoke.
The shooting prompted a protest from the Kurdish community near the scene of the shooting, and protesters clashed with police. All three of the victims killed in the shooting were of Kurdish origin, Sky News reported.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was less guarded in her statements, instead labeling the suspect as a “far-right activist.”
“Kurds wherever they reside must be able to live in peace and security,” Hidalgo said. “More than ever, Paris is by their side in these dark times.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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