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November 21, 2013

Gunman accused of Paris photographer shooting had served four years for quadruple killing

By Darren Boyle

A gunman accused of shooting a photographer in the office of a Paris newspaper had previously been involved in killing of four people following a botched robbery, a French government minister has claimed.

Abdelhakim Dekhar was arrested yesterday in a car park following a two-day nationwide manhunt.

The career criminal is accused of shooting the photographer inside Liberation newspaper, hijacking a car and holding the driver hostage, shooting at the front of a bank as well as threatening staff at a Paris TV station with his shotgun.

French authorities believe Dekhar lived in London for several yeras following his release before returning to Paris in July. 

Interior minister Manuel Valls told journalists Dekhar served four years for his part in the 1994 robbery. Three police men and a taxi driver died in the ensuing car chase.

Dekhar was jailed in 1998 although following his release he did not come the attention of authorities until his latest crime spree.

Valls said Dekhar had attempted suicide before his arrest inside the underground car park in Bois-Colombes, six miles north of Paris.

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Police union spokesman Christophe Crepin said he appeared heavily medicated when he was detained.

"My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines because of the capsules nearby. They called the ambulance, which brought him to the hospital. There he is incarcerated but in a medical environment,"

The gunman entered the lobby of Liberation at around 10am on Monday and opened fire. A 23-year-old photographer, who works at the paper as a freelance assistant, was in intensive care after being shot near the heart and in the arm.

Soon after the shooting at Liberation, three shots were fired in front of the headquarters of Societe Generale in the Paris suburb of La Defence. No one was hurt.

Less than an hour later, a man called police to say he had been taken hostage by a gunman in the town of Puteaux, next door to La Defence.

Police said the gunman forced his hostage to drive three and a half miles back towards central Paris, then let him go on the Champs-Elysees.

Three days before at BFM-TV, an armed man threatened journalists with a shotgun in the news network's lobby before fleeing. He left behind unused cartridges, and told witnesses: "Next time, I won't miss," according to authorities. It was unclear whether the gun malfunctioned or whether he chose not to shoot.

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