By Gerard Bon
French police seeking help from the public in capturing a fugitive gunman circulated pictures of his face on Tuesday a day after he fired shots at the Paris offices of a newspaper and major bank before escaping in a hijacked car.
The man, armed with a shotgun and wearing glasses, a beige bonnet and red vest in one of the photographs taken by a mass transit surveillance camera, had yet be identified after a public call for witnesses to come forward, a police source said. Images of the gunman’s face were released by the media.
In an outburst of violence that alarmed the French capital, the gunman burst into the downtown headquarters of left-wing daily Liberation on Monday, shooting and critically wounding a 23-year-old photographer’s assistant before fleeing.
Soon afterwards he fired at least three shots into the lobby of the headquarters of Societe Generale bank in the La Defense business district 10 km (6 miles) west of the city centre, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. A window was shattered but there were no casualties.
The gunman subsequently vanished into crowds near the central Champs-Elysees boulevard after forcing a motorist at gunpoint to take him there.
The gunman – who was also photographed wearing a baseball cap with a sling bag, green sneakers with white soles, and either a puffy vest or long green coat – has not claimed the shooting or given any indication of his motive.
Investigators were pursuing around 120 of 400 tips received from the public, police said.
“The French can count on the mobilisation of the police,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told journalists. “We will find the perpetrator of these acts so that he can be brought to justice and punished.”
Molins said the suspect had salt-and-pepper hair, European features, is somewhere between 35 and 45 years old and between 1.70 and 1.80 metres tall. He said the same man wearing different clothes was suspected to have threatened people with a gun on Friday at a 24-hour news channel, BFMTV.
Investigators found two types of 12-gauge shotgun cartridges at the Liberation offices and in BFMTV’s lobby.