PARIS – A gunman opened fire Friday afternoon in central Paris near the Gare de l’Est train station and the Grand Boulevards busy shopping district, killing three and wounding four people.
A 69-year-old former train conductor was taken into custody, and his weapon recovered. Prosecutors said they had opened an investigation on charges of murder, intentional homicide and aggravated violence among the charges. Police indicated they do not yet know the motive for the attack.
Two of the wounded are in critical condition.
The incident took place in front of the Kurdish cultural Ahmet Kaya Center and the gunman entered a nearby hair salon, injuring others. Witnesses said the gunman opened fire on a group of people at the cultural center and they reported hearing seven or eight gunshots, according to AFP.
The prefecture of police took to Twitter to appeal to people to stay away from the area, which is in Paris’ 10th district in between the Grand Rex theater and the Sentier neighborhood, a popular shopping area full of boutiques and restaurants.
“Avoid the area and let the emergency services intervene,” the police statement said.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo took to Twitter to thank the first responders. “Thank you to the police for their decisive intervention this morning during the terrible attack in the 10th. Thoughts to the victims and their families. We are on their side,” she wrote.
Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire also took to Twitter to share his thoughts. “A gun attack has taken place. Thank you to the security forces for their quick action,” he wrote. “Thoughts for the victims and those who witnessed this tragedy.”
France experienced a string of terror attacks in 2015, but tourism had largely recovered before the COVID-19 pandemic. The summer of 2022 saw tourism rebound after a two-year drop caused by the pandemic, with an estimated 33 million visitors this year, compared to 38 million in 2019. Some of that increase was driven by American tourists, who flocked to the French capital in droves this year, taking advantage of the strong dollar which at one point reached near parity with the euro.