French officials say a fourth victim of the Christmas market shooting in Strasbourg has died. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Friday identified the victim as Italian journalist Antonio Megalizzi.
Police killed the alleged assailant in the market attack Thursday and searched for other potential suspects Friday. The Islamic State terror group, without providing evidence, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack that wounded more than a dozen people, and left a country on edge.
French public prosecutor Remy Heitz on Friday detailed the two-day manhunt that led to police shooting dead Cherif Chekatt, in the Strasbourg neighborhood where he grew up. He said two local witnesses tipped off police after seeing a man who matched a widely circulated description of Chekatt during a manhunt that included nearby Germany.
Chekatt noted that about 9 p.m. local time Thursday, a police patrol spotted a man trying to enter a building, and identified themselves. The man turned around and opened fire, at which point police responded, killing him.
Heitz says the terrorist investigation continues to identify possible suspects in Tuesday’s Christmas market shooting. They have detained more than a half-dozen people for questioning, including four members of Chekatt’s family.
The Islamic State terror group said Chekatt was one of its so-called “soldiers.” But visiting the newly reopened market Friday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner dismissed the claim as totally opportunistic, saying Chekatt “nourished evil within himself.”
A Strasbourg native with Moroccan roots, Chekatt had an extensive criminal record that stretched to Germany and Switzerland, and multiple prison sentences. He had been on a French watchlist for suspected Islamist views.
Relief in Strasbourg
Strasbourg’s businesses have taken a major hit. Many locals said they were relieved Chekatt had been killed. One woman told French radio she had been haunted by fears of him still hiding and ready to strike, but that the burden has been lifted.
The police have been hailed as heroes for tracking down Chekatt as swiftly as they did; but, their representatives say officers are exhausted after also dealing with multiple French anti-government protests in recent weeks. Some of the demonstrators say they will be back on the streets to protest government reforms and the high cost of living.