The gunman who killed at least one police officer and seriously wounded two others on the Champs-Elysees in Paris Thursday night has been identified as ISIS fighter Karim Cheurfi, also known as Abu Yusuf al-Balkiki.
Cheurfi opened fire on police officers in Paris Thursday night, killing one and gravely wounded two others. Responders fatally shot Cheufri, 39, at the scene, L’Express reports.
In a statement from ISIS, Cheurfi was referred to as Abu Yusuf al-Baljiki, though his name has been spelled Abu Youssef and al-Beljiki in some reports.
Cheurfi opened fire with an automatic weapon, according to a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry. He fired at a police officer stopped in his car at a red light. He then got out of his car and fired on other officers, CNN reports.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said the gunman “then ran away, managing to shoot and wound two other policemen. Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker.”
A witness, named Chelloug, told Sky News he heard six shots after a man armed with a Kalashnikov rifle parked his Audi behind a police vehicle.
“I thought they were firecrackers. In fact, he was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police. I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell,” the witness said.
Witnesses told media they heard several gunshots nearby. One witness said people began to panic, overturning tables and ducking for cover.
Who Is Karim Cheurfi?
Karim Cheurfi, 39, was an ISIS fighter who was also known as Abu Yusuf al-Baljiki. He was born in Livry-Gargan and lived in Chelles, Seine-et-Marne.
In 2001, Cheurfi was convicted of shooting at police officers, according to L’Express.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2003, but that term was reduced to 15 years in 2005.
According to a 2001 report from Le Parisien, Cheurfi, then 23, stole a gun from a police officer and shot him three times, in the lung, leg and foot. He also fired at other officers.
Cheurfi was reportedly known for committing violent robberies.
Just days before that incident, Cheurfi also shot at a police officer during a road rage incident while driving a stolen vehicle.
BFM TV reports that Cheurfi was previously known to authorities. He had written on Telegram, an instant messaging service, about wanting to kill police officers, the news station reports.
According to France 2 news, the shooter was taken into custody recently and interrogated because informants said he was looking for weapons to kill police officers. But he was released.
Police officials told the Associated Press that he had been flagged as an extremist.