Authorities in Paris are now announcing that the man who attacked a law enforcement officer outside of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral screamed, “This is for Syria,” during the attack. The attacker was shot in the chest by another officer and taken to a nearby hospital.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb held a press conference in the wake of the attack, which police believe was carried out by an Algerian student who was armed with hammers and knives.
“He was armed with a hammer. We also found on him knives, kitchen knives. So it’s literally with basic tools that he came to attack the forces of order. So we’ve gone from very sophisticated terrorism, and now we’re at a point where we have this basic terrorism using whatever instruments or tools they can find,” he said.
Video from the scene that was posted to social media shows the attacker lying on the ground next to a police officer, not moving. Tourists in the area panicked, particularly considering that the entire country of France has been in a state of emergency since the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, as well as an April attack at the Champs-Elysees that claimed the life of a police officer.
Photos also showed a chaotic scene inside the Notre-Dame cathedral, where a throng of visitors sat with their hands up in the air after hearing several gunshots outside. Witnesses on the streets near the cathedral saw SWAT teams descend on the area with guns drawn.
“Everyone started fleeing from the cathedral, and police surrounded almost immediately,” a witness told CNN. “It looked as though they had surrounded someone at the stairs down to the Seine. There was a large crowd to go into the cathedral, and when the shots fired, they all started running.”