iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) – A man who was shot dead after grabbing an assault rifle from a military member patrolling a Paris airport held a pistol to the soldier’s head, using her as a shield, Paris Prosecutor François Molins said.
The suspect, a French-born man identified as 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was killed by French security forces during the Saturday morning incident at Orly Airport.
Belgacem allegedly shouted, “I’m here to die for Allah,” and, “Whatever happens, there will be deaths,’ the prosecutor said, adding that the suspect apparently aimed to shoot people in the airport.
Molins said Belgacem was carrying a container of gasoline that he tossed to the ground.
The attack on soldiers at the airport began at around 8:22 a.m. After the suspect allegedly tried to take an assault weapon from the soldier, she took it back, authorities said. Belgacem then grabbed the weapon and put it over himself, and then held a revolver to the soldier’s head, authorities said. When the attacker detached himself from the soldier to try to escape, two other officers shot him. The suspect was killed at 8:25 a.m., authorities said.
After the incident, authorities searched the attacker’s home and found machetes, foreign currencies and cocaine, officials said.
Belgacem had a lengthy criminal record including convictions for armed robbery and drug trafficking. Authorities said he was previously flagged for possible radicalism and that it’s believed he may have been radicalized while in prison.
The suspect was not on the government’s list of people considered a national security threat, the Paris prosecutor’s office said earlier.
In the course of the investigation, the suspect’s brother, father and a cousin have been taken into custody.
Orly Airport was partially shut down and evacuated following the incident.
Air traffic at the airport’s two commercial passenger terminals was temporarily suspended, and flights were diverted to Paris’ other international airport, Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Later Saturday, the airport’s operations were gradually resuming.
Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux said the assailant was involved in a carjacking earlier in the day and had also shot at a police officer at a traffic stop.
“We can also link his identity to a police check that occurred this morning at 6:50 in the northern suburbs of Paris. During this police check, the individual shot with a gun at a police officer who was slightly injured,” Le Roux said.
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