PARIS – A man armed with a knife killed at least four police officers and injured several others during an attack Thursday inside Paris police headquarters, where the man was an employee, before being fatally shot, officials said.
The attack appeared to begin inside an office around 1 p.m. local time before moving throughout the building, located across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral, union official Loic Travers said. The motive behind the attack wasn’t immediately known, Fox News reported.
Initial reports indicated only one officer had been killed. However, the death toll quickly rose to four. Moreover, Travers said several officers were injured during the attack. Further details on the number of people hurt and the extent of their injuries weren’t immediately available.
The man accused of being the attacker has only been identified as a 20-year administrator in the intelligence unit. Travers said the man hadn’t posed any known problems before the attack.
French media reported that a staff member carried out the attack with a ceramic knife in part of the prefecture that is not open to the public, according to Fox News.
Employees carrying bags and other belongings were seen exiting the building in the direction of police following the attack. It was unclear whether the building had been locked down or evacuated.
Emery Siamandi, an employee at the police headquarters, said he heard gunshots and immediately saw two officers leave an office weeping. A third officer, who Siamandi described as the person who shot and killed the assailant, came out on his knees, also in tears.
Travers said he couldn’t remember an attack of this scale against police.
The municipal police do not generally carry firearms. At the request of the mayor, the prefect of the department in which the commune or municipality is located may authorize municipal police officers to be armed in certain circumstances or for special night work.
It was not reported if the murdered officers were armed or not.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the headquarters to show solidarity and support toward all police officers and employees. Other officials on the scene included the country’s prime minister, interior minister and the Paris prosecutor.