PHOTO: Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-élysées, Paris. (photo via Flickr/martin_vmorris)
UPDATE: Friday, April 21 at 9:25 a.m. ET
Police in Paris have reportedly identified the shooter in Thursday’s terrorist attack on police as 39-year-old French citizen Karim Cheurfi. The shooter lived on the outskirts of the French capital.
According to NBCNews.com, French authorities said Cheurfi was known to police due to a long criminal record, but he was not on a watch list of people suspected of posing a security risk. Officers also found a shotgun and knives in the suspect's car.
One of the witnesses at the scene was an American from Kentucky named John Finney who was visiting Paris with his family. He said he was around 10 feet away from the shooter when he opened fire.
“I stopped to buy my wife a rose and I think if I hadn't done that I wouldn't be here speaking to you right now,” Finney told NBC News. “We saw the shooter get out of the car, he had a gun. To me, it looked like an AR-15 [and] he started popping off rounds. It was chaos. People were spreading out, running all over the place, falling down, trampling each other. It was real panic.”
UPDATE: Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET
The Associated Press reports the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack along the Champs-élysées. It also notes that officials know the identity of the attacker. While they have not yet divulged the name an earlier report states a pseudonym used would suggest a person of Belgian origin.
- Gabe Zaldivar
At least one police officer was killed and two others injured Thursday during an attack at the Champs-élysées, an iconic tourist attraction.
According to NBCNews.com, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet said that the assailant in the shootings was killed, but he was not identified publicly. The suspect reportedly got out of a car at a traffic light and opened fire on a police vehicle with a gun.
Police on the scene opened fire on the man as he ran away firing back at the officers. It was during this exchange of gunfire that the suspect was killed.
Brandet said police officers were the target of the attack but would not confirm or deny any ties to terrorism.
The Paris police department told tourists and locals to avoid the area around the Avenue des Champs-élysées. The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs released a warning on Twitter for all citizens to avoid the area:
U.S. President Donald Trump also shared his condolences during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
"We are greatly determined to fight terrorism here and every place where our forces are engaged," French President Francois Hollande said in a statement. "My thoughts are with the family of the police officer killed and those close to the wounded."
The Champs-élysées is an avenue in Paris which is known as a tourism hotspot thanks to the Arc de Triomphe monument and the many shops and restaurants along the road.