Serial shootings amount to terrorism, prosecutor says

PARIS — A shooter who has killed seven people in France including three children at a Jewish school could be charged with terrorism, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday, amid reports that the gunman still on the loose may have filmed his most recent attack.

“It indeed appears that the circumstances of these three killings have caused a serious breach of the peace through intimidation or terror and can be characterized as acts of terrorism in the sense of the definition contained in our penal code,” Francois Molins said.

He pointed to the premeditated and systematic nature of the attacks all the victims were shot point-blank “in the area of the head,” Molins told reporters. The incidents may also have racist and anti-Semitic aspects, he said.

All the victims belonged to ethnic or religious minorities.

Speculation has been rife in the media that the attacker is a neo-Nazi with a military background. But Interior Minister Claude Gueant warned against excessive guesswork.

“We still don’t know who he is. We haven’t gotten that far,” he said of the suspect.

Molins said all leads were being explored, noting that thousands of hours of video surveillance footage still have to be reviewed.

One witness told police that the attacker had a mini camera strapped to his chest when he started shooting at the Ozar Hatarah school in the southwestern city of Toulouse on Monday.

Investigators have scoured the Internet for any corresponding video of the shooting but have yet to find anything, Gueant said.

Surveillance video shows that the suspect was wearing a “band” across his chest, Molins acknowledged, but said that the presence of a camera is “at this moment only a hypothesis and nothing more.”

“It is clear that we are dealing with an individual who is extremely determined, who knows that he is hunted, who is capable of striking again,” he told reporters in Paris.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has placed the southwestern region on the highest threat level of scarlet, denoting the risk of an imminent attack.

Molins noted that the incidents so far which also left two people seriously injured have each happened four days apart.

The same semi-automatic Colt handgun was used in all three attacks. The suspect is also reported to have used similar looking scooters in several of the attacks, but Molins rejected reports that the police had information on matching registration plates.

Jewish and Muslim organizations are planning to close ranks on Sunday by holding a joint silent march in Paris.

  • Associated Press