French police arrest suspect in Paris shootings
Abdelhakim Dekhar named as gunman
The DNA of a man arrested over this week’s shootings in Paris matches samples found at the scene of the attacks, the prosecutor said on Thursday, after sources named him as Abdelhakim Dekhar, who was jailed in 1998 for his role in a murder spree.
The man was arrested late 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.
Police sources identified him as Dekhar, who was sentenced to four years in jail for his role in a “Bonnie-and-Clyde” style murder spree that gripped France in the 1990s.
He was convicted of buying a gun used in the 1994 shooting attacks by student Florence Rey and her lover Audry Maupin, in which three policemen and a taxi driver were killed.
The suspect was arrested at around 7pm in a vehicle in an underground parking lot in the northwestern Paris suburb of Bois-Colombes, the Paris prosecutors’ office said.
Sources close to the investigation said he was found in a semi-conscious state, with one saying he may have taken an overdose.
Prosecutors said the suspect was not immediately in a position to be questioned, but provided no explanation.
Police sources said he had been taken to a Paris region hospital and was under medical care.
Police tested his DNA against samples taken at the sites of the various attacks, announcing early on Thursday that the samples matched.
Police had earlier said that DNA tests confirmed that a single person was responsible for the series of attacks across Paris in the last week.
The arrest came after a witness statement to police, who had on Tuesday released a new photograph of the man suspected in the attacks and received hundreds of calls from potential witnesses.
‘I’ve made a stupid mistake’
A source close to the investigation said the witness who came forward had been a man who had housed the suspect.
“He had said to him, talking about the shooter case: ‘I’ve made a stupid mistake’,” the source said.
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.
He hijacked a car and forced the driver to drop him off close to the Champs Elysees in the centre of the French capital, before disappearing.
Police say he was the same man who on Friday stormed into the Paris headquarters of a 24-hour TV news channel, BFMTV, briefly threatening staff with a gun before hurrying out.
His attacks set off a major manhunt and raised concerns about violence against media outlets.
The photographer, who suffered wounds to the chest and stomach, was rushed to surgery and appeared to be in better condition on Wednesday.
Hospital officials said he had regained consciousness and was no longer in need of an artificial respirator.
The new photo of the suspect, taken by a surveillance camera, showed a white man, aged 35 to 45, with a round face and thin-framed glasses, wearing a red jacket and beige cap and carrying a black shoulder bag.
The motive for his attacks was not known.
Witnesses described the gunman as calm, precise and determined, and experts said he was likely to have worked alone and been well-organised.
The parking lot where Dekhar was detained on Wednesday was under a residential building along a train track. The area was sealed off by police after the suspect’s arrest, an AFP reporter at the scene said.