Soldiers at Paris’ busy Orly Airport shot and killed a man who wrestled one of their colleagues to the ground and tried to steal her rifle on Saturday (March 18, 2017), officials said.
Thousands of travelers were evacuated and at least 15 flights were diverted to the city’s other airport, Charles de Gaulle. No one else was hurt, according to The Associated Press.
Police did not immediately provide a motive or identify the attacker, though the Paris prosecutor’s office said he was 39 and had a record of robbery and drug offenses. The office said he did not appear in a French government database of people considered potential threats to national security.
Earlier on Saturday, he fired birdshot at officers during a traffic stop in a Paris suburb, wounding one in the face. Then, Paris police said, he stole a woman’s car at gunpoint. It was found near Orly.
The prosecutor’s office said its anti-terrorism division was handling the investigation and had taken the attacker’s father and brother into custody for questioning.
The incident further rattled France, which remains under a state of emergency after attacks over the past two years that have killed 235 people.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attacker, whom he did not identify, assaulted three Air Force soldiers who were patrolling the airport. He said the soldier who was attacked managed to hold on to her rifle and the two soldiers she was with opened fire to protect her and the public. A spokesman for the force later said she was shocked but not hurt.