An employee of the Paris police force used a knife to kill four colleagues inside headquarters on Thursday before he was shot dead.
According to police officials, three of the four people killed were police officers. The fourth was an administrator. A fifth person was rushed to emergency surgery after being wounded in the rampage, but their condition is not known.
The suspect was a civilian employee at the police headquarters who had worked for the force since 2003, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told the Associated Press.
He worked in the IT department, Castaner said, and “never presented any behavioural difficulties.”
The attack in the heart of the French capital started in an office at around 1 p.m. local time and continued to a police courtyard. The officer who shot the attacker did so “in a situation that appears to be self-defence,” officials said.
There was no immediate word on a motive for the attack, which was reportedly carried out with a ceramic knife.
Officials said they were still trying to determine if the act was linked to terrorism.
At this time, the Paris prosecutor has opened a murder investigation. The suspect’s home is also being searched.
A police official told franceinfo radio that he knew the attacker. He said there were “tensions” between the attacker and a supervisor, but that he did not think it was an act of terrorism.
The police union leader, Jean-Marc Bailleul, described the incident to local media as “a moment of madness.”
However, Philippe Capon of the UNSA police union said: “Nothing can be ruled out.”
The attack comes one day after thousands of police officers demonstrated in the streets to protest long hours and increasing suicides within the industry.
“Paris weeps for its own this afternoon after this terrifying attack in police headquarters Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted. “The toll is heavy, several officers lost their lives.”
The police headquarters is located across the street from the Notre-Dame cathedral. A large area was sealed off.
A nearby Paris metro station was shut down for security reasons.