By Emma R.
By Emma R.
Witnesses said that the suspect, previously identified as Cherif Chekat, was yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) during the shooting rampage, Remy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, told a press conference on Wednesday.
“Considering the target, his way of operating, his profile and the testimonies of those who heard him yell ‘Allahu Akbar’, the anti-terrorist police have been called into action,” Heitz explained.
Chekatt was wounded in the arm during a subsequent shootout with police but managed to flee the scene hijacking a taxi, the prosecutor said, confirming earlier media reports. He said that four of his relatives were put under arrest overnight.
The 29-year-old has been convicted 27 times for several offenses committed in France, Germany, and Switzerland. That aside, he was shadowed by DGSI, France’s homeland security agency, for harboring extremist views.
Chekatt’s neighbors say he was “destabilized” in prison, according to AP. “You can just tell,” one neighbor said of the man, touching the side of his head. Another unnamed neighbor said the shooting suspect was rarely home. Police are now guarding the building where Chekatt is believed to have lived, which is in an outer neighborhood of Strasbourg.
The shooting at Strasbourg’s busy Christmas market left two people dead, one brain dead and 12 injured in what French authorities called an act of terrorism. Police have said Chekatt was a native of Strasbourg who comes from an immigrant family.
He was due to be arrested and searched prior to the attack in connection with a homicide-robbery case, but again managed to evade detention. Responding to the shooting, the authorities deployed multiple armed officers and a counter-terrorism team to deal with the situation.
In the aftermath of the attack, the government has put a ban on all public events in Strasbourg. However, no restrictions were placed on public events in other parts of France.