This man was armed and dangerous. Two hours earlier, he had shot an officer and there was a chance he would shoot again. A high chance. Officers did what they had to do.
A convicted criminal with links to radical Islam sent a text message to his brother and father stating ‘I shot the police’, shortly before he was shot dead during an attack at Paris Orly airport.
The 39-year-old, named locally as career criminal Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was killed after wrestling a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s.
Less than two hours earlier he had shot a female police officer in the head in a northern Paris suburb after being stopped for speeding.
The Paris prosecutors’ office said he was suspected of having terror links, and Ben Belgacem’s home was among scores searched in November 2015 following attacks which killed 130 people.
Ziyed Ben Belgacem, abatido. pic.twitter.com/33uazTFAdB
— Alejo Schapire (@aschapire) March 18, 2017
The wanted man’s father and brother turned themselves in at a police station after receiving the message, according to French TV network BFM. They have been taken into custody, and a home is being searched, officials have confirmed.
Ben Belgacem was stopped by police in the suburb of Stains, close to his home, at around 6.55am.
The 39-year-old, who was driving a Renault Clio, pulled out a shotgun and fired at the officers while he was fetching his ID.
He sped off, and the car was found abandoned 11 miles away at Vitry, south of Paris.
He then hijacked a woman’s Citroen Picasso at gunpoint, and this second car was later found parked at the airport.
Today’s incidents come as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Paris, where they have met with victims of terrorism. They were around 10 miles from the airport when the shooting happened.
Ben Belgacem had previously been jailed for drug trafficking and authorities believe he was radicalised in prison.
He first came to police notice in the late 1990s, when he was involved in a series of bank robberies in the Paris suburb.
Police sources said Ben Belgacem was close to his family, and was staying with them at their flat on a council estate in Garges-lès-Gonesse, where he was first stopped this morning.
The family are French and come from a Tunisian background. He was armed with a shotgun when he opened fire on police. He sped away in a Renault Clio, which was later found in Vitry, in the south of the city, containing a bloody t-shirt.
Here he hijacked a woman’s car at gunpoint and drove to the airport.
A source said: ‘The Clio was found abandoned some thirty kilometres away with the man’s identity papers and a bloodied T shirt. The man had hijacked a Citroen Picasso and made for Orly.’
Checks soon revealed that Ben Belgacem was subject to a ‘File J’ – meaning he was wanted by the judicial authorities but was not under surveillance.
His family are from the Val d’Oise department north of Paris.
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the man shot dead at the airport is the same as the one who ‘is linked with car hijacking’ earlier.
Ben Belgacem had previously served time in prison for armed robbery and drug trafficking, and had been radicalized in prison, Le Parisien reports.
Anti-terror police stormed the airport searching for possible accomplices and explosives, and authorities warned the public to stay away.