French police have identified the man arrested for shooting a newspaper assistant photographer and carrying out three other attacks.
Yesterday’s arrest in a car park near Paris ended a two-day nationwide manhunt for the gunman.
Interior minister Manuel Valls said the suspect was Abdelhakim Dekhar, convicted in 1998 as an accomplice in a high-profile 1994 robbery and car chase that left three police officers and a taxi driver dead.
Dekhar served four years in prison in the so-called Rey-Maupin affair, but authorities had no trace of him in recent years, Mr Valls said.
The motive for the shootings remain unclear but based on DNA data, authorities believe Dekhar was the lone gunman behind Monday’s shooting at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation.
He is also suspected of carrying out a shooting outside French bank Societe Generale, a brief hostage-taking in which the gunman hijacked a car, and a similar attack three days earlier at news network BFM-TV.
The shooting prompted fears about attacks on the media and security was tightened at media offices and on the busy Champs-Elysees shopping avenue.
Dekhar apparently tried to kill himself before he was arrested, Mr Valls said.
Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the French prosecutor’s office, said the suspect was arrested in an underground car park in Bois-Colombes, six miles north of Paris. She and police union spokesman Christophe Crepin said he appeared heavily medicated when he was detained.
“My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines because of the capsules nearby. They called the ambulance, which brought him to the hospital. There he is incarcerated but in a medical environment,” Mr Crepin said.
Dekhar was found after a witness told police that a suspect resembling images broadcast on national television since Monday had stayed at his house in recent days, said Paris judicial police chief Christian Flaesch.
Authorities had released video footage and photos of the shooter, wielding a pump-action shotgun, in the attacks on Liberation and BFM.
The gunman entered the lobby of Liberation at around 10am on Monday and opened fire. A 23-year-old photographer, who works at the paper as a freelance assistant, was in intensive care after being shot near the heart and in the arm. Mr Valls said he visited him yesterday and he was “doing better”.
Soon after the shooting at Liberation, three shots were fired in front of the headquarters of Societe Generale in the Paris suburb of La Defence. No one was hurt.
Less than an hour later, a man called police to say he had been taken hostage by a gunman in the town of Puteaux, next door to La Defence. Police said the gunman forced his hostage to drive three and a half miles back towards central Paris, then let him go on the Champs-Elysees.
Three days before at BFM-TV, an armed man threatened journalists with a shotgun in the news network’s lobby before fleeing. He left behind unused cartridges, and told witnesses: “Next time, I won’t miss,” according to authorities. It was unclear whether the gun malfunctioned or whether he chose not to shoot.