French authorities identified a small-time criminal, apparently inspired by the Islamic State, as the perpetrator of a deadly attack on police officers in a shooting that set France on edge just before a pivotal presidential election, the Washington Post reports. One police officer was killed and two others were seriously injured when a gunman, identified as Karim Cheurfi, opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle on a police patrol parked on Paris’s best-known thoroughfare, sending pedestrians fleeing into side streets. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Cheurfi was then shot dead as he tried to escape. Investigators found a number of knives and a pump-action shotgun in Cheurfi’s car, as well as a message apparently scribbled in support of the Islamic State. Cheurfi, a 39-year-old of Algerian descent who was born in the Paris suburbs, had a criminal record and was well-known to authorities. In a profile similar to those of perpetrators of other smaller-scale attacks, Cheurfi had been convicted at least four times since 2003. He spent nearly 14 years in prison for crimes ranging from burglary and theft to attempted murder.