On Thursday night in Paris, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées has been closed and blocked off by authorities after reports of gunfire. Initial details are still forthcoming, but a local CNN affiliate reports that at least two people — both policemen — were shot during the attack. One of the officers has reportedly died on the scene with the other sustaining serious injuries.
Security vehicles have flocked to the area, which remains on lockdown until further notice. The BBC adds that the incident is believed to only involve one gunman, who has reportedly been “taken down.” Although CNN reports that a third person was also struck in the gunfire, it’s not yet clear whether this person was a bystander or the attacking gunman.
Police have advised the public to steer clear of the area, and this situation is unfolding only a few blocks away from the Elysée Palace — the official residence of the French president. The first round of the country’s presidential election is due to begin on Sunday.
Paris remains in a state of heightened alert following the November 2015 coordinated terror attacks that killed over 130 people and injured hundreds more. In February, police shot a machete-wielding attacker outside the Lourve museum. And in July, Orly airport security killed a suspected terrorist who stole an assault rifle from a guard.
UPDATE #1 – 4:20pm EST: French Ministry Spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said that the gunman used an “automatic weapon” upon police after stepping out of a car and approaching a parked police van. Brandet also believes that the “officers were deliberately targeted.”
UPDATE #2 – 4:30pm EST: Authorities have launched an investigation into whether this was a terror attack with the Associated Press reporting that such a conclusion seem likely. During a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Donald Trump stated, “It looks like another terrorist attack … what can you say, it never ends. We have to be strong and be vigilant.”
The man was a French national who shot two officers in 2001 after being stopped by a police car, the source said. He was taken into custody but while being questioned grabbed another officer’s gun and shot him three times, the source said. He was convicted in that attack and had a criminal record because of involvement in violent robberies, the source said.
We will update this story as the situation unfolds.