Hunt continues for Paris gunman after media shootings

This photo taken from the footage of a security camera and released by the Paris Prefecture de Police today shows the alleged gunman. Photo / AP
This photo taken from the footage of a security camera and released by the Paris Prefecture de Police today shows the alleged gunman. Photo / AP

A gunman who critically wounded a photographer at the offices of a major Paris newspaper remained at large despite an intense police manhunt and a public appeal to identify him which has attracted hundreds of calls.

The newspaper involved, the leftwing daily Liberation, said the 23-year-old photography assistant shot during the gunman's attack in its reception area on Monday remained in intensive care.

He was in a slightly improved condition and had been taken out of an induced coma, but remained "intensely monitored" by doctors, it said.
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The victim was shot in the back by the shotgun-wielding perpetrator, with an exit wound on the left-hand side of his chest, according to a Liberation account of an employee who administered first aid to him.

More than 24 hours after the assault, authorities have yet to identify the gunman.

A new photo of the suspect taken by a surveillance camera and released by authorities showed, front on, 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 shooter, who was thought to be acting alone has been described by officials as "a real danger".

Video

An appeal to the public for information made late Monday has so far generated nearly 700 calls, a police source said late Tuesday.

Of 692 calls, 272 "are being followed up," the source said, and three people had been brought in for further questioning.

DNA examinations have also been carried out on the shotgun cartridges the gunman used and a car he commandeered during Monday's drama, and witness statements have been pored over.

Several people had been detained or stopped in the street, but all turned out to be false alarms.

A source linked to the case said police were "gathering quite a lot" of information and "remained confident" that the case could be swiftly resolved.

Wielding a 12-gauge shotgun, the attacker opened fire at the offices of left-wing newspaper Liberation in the east of Paris at about 10:15 am (1015pm NZT) on Monday.

He shot the photographer's assistant, who was hauling gear in the lobby on his second day of freelance work at the paper, and fired another blast that hit the roof before leaving within seconds. Witnesses described him as calm and determined.

After fleeing the daily's offices, the gunman is believed to have crossed the city to the La defence business district on its western edge, where he fired several shots outside the main office of the Societe Generale bank, hitting no one.

He then reportedly hijacked a car, telling the driver he was just out of prison, had a grenade and was "ready for anything", and forced him to drop him off close to the Champs Elysees avenue in the centre of the French capital.

The gunman's motive was not known.

Police believe he was the same man who last Friday stormed into the Paris headquarters of a 24-hour TV news channel, BFMTV, briefly threatening staff with a gun before hurrying out.

In that incident, the gunman pumped his shotgun to empty several cartridges on the floor, while warning a senior editor: "Next time, I will not miss you."

'All-out, intense resentment'

Forensic psychologist Daniel Zagury said the man did not seem to be suffering from extreme mental disorders such as delirium at the time of his actions.

"He attacks symbols but you get the feeling that he is not looking for anything spectacular," he said, adding that his actions seemed motivated less by a specific cause than by "all-out, intense resentment".

A commentary in Tuesday's edition of Liberation signed by the paper's publisher, Nicolas Demorand, was titled: "We will continue".

"Opening fire in a newspaper is an attack on the lives of men and women who are only doing their jobs. And on an idea, a set of values, which we call 'The Republic,"' it said.

The daily devoted four pages to the unprecedented attack and an employee described the moment the gunman walked in.

"The guy pulled out a gun from his bag and fired twice at the first person he saw. It lasted no more than 10 seconds, and anyone of us could have been hit. The shooter said nothing and left immediately," the staff member was quoted as saying.

Reinforced security remained in place at the offices of all the main media outlets in Paris Tuesday.

- AFP

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