Cherif Chekatt has been named by French news media as the suspect in the attack at a Strasbourg Christmas Market near the border between Germany and France. Le Figaro reported that “the alleged perpetrator of the shooting is Chérif C.” who was born in 1989.
He’s now been killed by police in Strasbourg.
It’s common in criminal cases in Europe for suspects’ last names to not be released. Initially, the suspect was only identified as Cherif C. but his last name was later revealed by authorities to be Chekatt. They are still seeking him. According to BBC, the shooter yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire and “was already known to the French authorities as someone who had been radicalised into following an extreme form of Islam while in prison for crimes including robbery.”
Guardian reports that authorities consider Chekatt to be what they call “gangster-jihadists” – men who start out as petty criminals but become terrorists. He is of Moroccan origin but was born in Strasbourg, Guardian reports, adding that he turned to “Islamic extremism” while in prison. He was put on the national security watch list called the Fiché-S list.
The shooting broke out on December 11, 2018. At least two people were killed and 13 more injured, with seven people in serious condition, at the popular holiday attraction, according to BBC.
ABC News reported that the shooting is being treated as a terror attack. Videos from the scene circulated widely on social media. Millions of tourists frequent the Christmas market areas of Strasbourg, according to The Guardian. The Guardian reported that a diner was shot after stepping outside and “staff and customers tried to save” the victim, using “napkins to try to stem the blood.” However, the man died.
The French Interior Minister called it a “serious public security incident,” BBC reports. The European Parliament was sent into lockdown. Antonio Tajani, the president of Parliament, wrote on Twitter, “I express all my sorrow for the victims of the Strasbourg attacks. This Parliament will not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks. Let us move on. We will continue to work and react strengthened by freedom and democracy against terrorist violence.”
Here’s what you need to know:
French News Media Are Reporting that Cherif Chekatt May Have Been Radicalized
According to AFP journalist Marc Burleigh, the suspect in the Strasbourg shooting has a criminal record, was reportedly known as a possible security threat and was “possibly identified” as a “radicalised individual named Cherif C.” The French anti-terror police are handling the investigation. Terrified restaurant patrons took shelter after gunfire broke out.
BBC reports that Cherif Chekatt “has 27 convictions for crimes including robbery spanning France, Germany and Switzerland, and has spent considerable time in prison as a result.”
Sanam Shantyaei, a host for France 24, reported that four people were killed, the suspect is a local resident who is 29-years-old, he escaped after he was supposed to be arrested earlier that morning, he was still on the run, and he was injured during crossfire. However, BBC put the death toll at two.
The local French newspaper DNA reported that the suspect was from Hohberg. France 24 reports the suspect was supposed to be arrested for attempted murder before the attack and “was sentenced in 2011 to two years in prison for assault with a weapon.”
La Voce dell’Isola reported that the suspect is “called Cherif C., 29 years old born in Strasbourg and of North African descent.”
This post is being updated as more information is learned about Cherif C.