Strasbourg Christmas market shooting: Gunman at large after three killed

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 8:16 AM


A massive hunt is underway for a gunman who opened fire near a popular Christmas market in the center of the French city of Strasbourg Tuesday, killing three people and injuring 13 others.

More than 350 police gendarmes and soldiers supported by air units have been mobilized to find the suspect, who was already known to security services as a possible threat, police said.

Speaking to French radio station Inter on Wednesday, the county's Deputy Interior Minister, Laurent Nunez, said that authorities could not confirm that the suspect has "terrorist motivations."

Nunez added that while authorities have secured the border and set up a perimeter around Strasbourg, they are not sure if the suspect is still in France.

Nunez's comments come after the Paris Prosecutor's office confirmed to CNN that their anti-terror section was in charge of the investigation.

Strasbourg's famed Christmas Market is one of the oldest in Europe and draws millions of visitors each year. The suspect entered the perimeter of the market by the city's Corbeau Bridge, and began shooting at passers-by on the Rue des Orfèvres at 8 p.m. local time, when many were in the middle of their Christmas shopping.

Anti-terror police descended on the market and attempted to apprehend the suspect, who exchanged fire with security forces on at least two occasions between 8:20 p.m. and 9 p.m. French media reported the gunman was injured in one of the exchanges. He is then believed to have jumped into a taxi and fled the scene.

The attack prompted France to raise its national security threat level to its highest "emergency terror attack" status, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said at a press conference.

Eight people were seriously wounded, Strasbourg police said on Wednesday, with five others suffering from minor injuries.

Gunman was known to police

The suspected gunman, who was identified by CNN affiliate BFM as a 29-year-old male born in Strasbourg, was on a French watch list called a "Fiche S" surveillance file.

The "Fiche S" is a French terror and radicalization watch list that includes thousands of people, some of whom are under active surveillance, meaning they are on law enforcement's radar.

The suspect was also "unfavorably known" by police authorities in France and Germany, Castaner told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he was known for non-terror related offenses.

French gendarmes had attempted to bring him in for questioning Tuesday morning before the attack but found he wasn't home, a spokesperson for France's National Police told CNN, without providing further details.

'People running, scared, crying kids'

Issam Fares, who sells chestnuts at the Strasbourg Christmas market, told AFP he heard several shots and thought they were fireworks "or they're attacking a store."

"I saw a lot of people running, scared, crying kids and all. Then I said, in my opinion it must be very, very serious, and then ... I saw people crying and the crowd leaving," he told AFP. "They said it was shooting right next door, so I ran away. I went to hide in a restaurant, not far from Gutenberg Street."

The injured were taken to a Strasbourg hospital.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted early Wednesday in solidarity with the French people. "Solidarity of the whole Nation for Strasbourg, our victims and their families," he said.

Terror attacks across Europe

The threat of terrorism has become a grim fact of life for parts of Europe, which has seen attacks on a Christmas market in the German capital Berlin in 2016, suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and a nearby Metro station that same year, and attacks on a busy downtown Barcelona avenue and a nearby Mediterranean beach resort last year, killing 13.

In the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks, French authorities launched a military operation called Opération Sentinelle -- in which 10,000 soldiers, police and gendarmes were deployed in Paris and its suburbs.

Strasbourg, a picturesque city of about 300,000 in France's Grand Est region on the border with Germany, has previously been at the center of French counter terrorism operations. The market itself was targeted 18 years ago in a thwarted plot by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

In 2016, French authorities arrested seven people in anti-terror raids in Strasbourg and Marseilles. In 2012, police killed one suspect and arrested 10 others in the city as part of coordinated counter-terrorism operations.

Lockdown lifted

Following Tuesday's attack, the European Parliament in Strasbourg was placed on lockdown as the search for the gunman continued. Tweeting from inside, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that Parliament will "not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks." He expressed "sorrow" for the victims, adding that Parliament will "continue to work and react strengthened by freedom and democracy against terrorist violence."

Containment measures were lifted hours later with police warning everyone to remain vigilant and follow safety instructions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter that she was "shocked and saddened" by the "terrible" attack in Strasbourg. "My thoughts are with all of those affected and with the French people," May tweeted.

The Christmas market will be closed Wednesday and flags will be at half-staff, Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said on his Twitter account. All shows scheduled to be performed at the city's cultural institutions will also be canceled on Wednesday, the mayor said.

The city's elementary, high schools and colleges will be open on Wednesday, local police said.

All rallies and demonstrations throughout the Strasbourg area were declared "forbidden" until further notice, the Prefecture of the Grand East and Lower Rhine Region said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98190

Reported Deaths: 2969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather