Officials: Strasbourg market attack suspect killed

Officials: Strasbourg market attack suspect killed
Investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The man authorities believe killed three people during a rampage near a Christmas market in Strasbourg died Thursday in a shootout with police at the end of a two-day manhunt, French authorities said.

The Paris prosecutor's office, which handles terror cases in France, formally identified the man killed in the eastern French city as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, a Strasbourg-born man with a long history of convictions for various crimes, including robberies. Chekatt also had been on a watch list of potential extremists.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, speaking earlier from Strasbourg, said police had spotted a man matching the suspect's description in the city's Neudorf neighborhood.

"The moment they tried to arrest him, he turned around and opened fired. They replied," killing the man, Castaner said.

Chekatt was suspected of killing three people and wounding 13 near Strasbourg's Christmas market on Tuesday night. Castaner said earlier Thursday that three of the injured had been released from hospital and three others were still fighting for their lives.

A hooded police officer holds his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
A hooded police officer holds his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

"Our engagement against terrorism is total," French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Brussels for a European Union summit, said in a tweet thanking security forces.

A French police officer looks at the dead body of a man lying in the doorway of a building after a shootout with police in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The dead man was suspected of being the gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market in Strasbourg. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the dead man's identity hasn't been confirmed yet. But Castaner said the "individual corresponds to the description of the person sought since Tuesday night," 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. (AP Photo)
A French police officer looks at the dead body of a man lying in the doorway of a building after a shootout with police in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The dead man was suspected of being the gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market in Strasbourg. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the dead man's identity hasn't been confirmed yet. But Castaner said the "individual corresponds to the description of the person sought since Tuesday night," 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. (AP Photo) (Source: AP)

Five people have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including Chekatt's parents and two of his brothers. The Paris prosecutor's office said the fifth, who was arrested Thursday, was a member of Chekatt's "entourage" but not a family member.

FILE - This undated file handout photo provided by the French police, shows Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the shooting in Strasbourg, France. The French government spokesman says security forces are trying to catch the suspected shooter dead or alive, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018, two days after an attack near Strasbourg's Christmas market. (French Police via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file handout photo provided by the French police, shows Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the shooting in Strasbourg, France. The French government spokesman says security forces are trying to catch the suspected shooter dead or alive, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018, two days after an attack near Strasbourg's Christmas market. (French Police via AP, File) (Source: AP)

Witnesses said the gunman shouted "God is great!" in Arabic and sprayed gunfire from a security zone near the Christmas market on Tuesday. Security forces wounded the man but he managed to escape in a taxi, which dropped him off in Neudorf.

Investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A man suspected of being the gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market in Strasbourg died in a shootout with police Thursday following a two-day manhunt. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A man suspected of being the gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market in Strasbourg died in a shootout with police Thursday following a two-day manhunt. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

More than 700 officers searched for Chekatt, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told CNews television. Authorities said Chekatt had 27 criminal convictions, the first one from when he was 13.

Investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

A local police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the man who shot at police Thursday night had been armed with a pistol and a knife.

A hooded police officer holds his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
A hooded police officer holds his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

Strasbourg mayor Roland Ries said police had acted on a tip from a woman.

Pepole cross the street while investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Pepole cross the street while investigating police officers work in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

A local resident who witnessed the shootout said he heard shots and rushed to the window to see what was happening. He closed the shutters when he spotted the cornered suspect across the street.

French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

"I was very afraid for my children, I told them to go away, and I went to the side," Cem Akcakaya told The Associated Press.

French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

After it was over, he said he saw the man motionless on his back on the pavement, his left arm askew.

Hooded police officers block the access in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Hooded police officers block the access in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online, said the Islamic State group's Amaq news agency was claiming the gunman as a "soldier" of the group, although IS claims of responsibility have often been considered opportunistic.

French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French police officers stand guard in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. The official, who could not be named because the operation was ongoing, said the dead man opened fire on police Thursday night and officers fired back, killing him. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

Security forces, including the elite Raid squad, spent hours searching in the Neudorf neighborhood where Chekatt had grown up based on "supposition only" he might have been hiding in a building nearby, a French police official said.

Investigating police officers gather in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Investigating police officers gather in a street of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday Dec. 13, 2018. A top French official says a man has been killed in a shootout with police in Strasbourg, but he has not been confirmed as the suspected gunman who killed three people near a Christmas market. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

France has raised its three-stage threat index to the highest level since the attack and deployed 1,800 additional soldiers across the country to help patrol streets and secure crowded events.

French police forces take position in the Neudorf district of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. French security forces were trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman dead or alive as the city of Strasbourg was still in mourning with candles lit and flowers left at the site of Tuesday's attack near the Christmas market.(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
French police forces take position in the Neudorf district of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. French security forces were trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman dead or alive as the city of Strasbourg was still in mourning with candles lit and flowers left at the site of Tuesday's attack near the Christmas market.(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

Residents of Strasbourg's Neudorf neighborhood expressed relief after Chekatt was killed.

French police officers patrol in the streets, nest to a bullet hole following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French police officers patrol in the streets, nest to a bullet hole following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

"Everybody's quite happy that the killer has been finally shot. I think now, the city and life can keep going on in Strasbourg," resident Pierre Plasse said.

This photo provided Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 by the National Police shows the wanted notice for Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the Strasbourg attack. French security forces were trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman dead or alive, an official said Thursday, two days after an attack near the city's Christmas market. More than 700 officers were involved in the manhunt for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. (Police Nationale via AP)
This photo provided Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 by the National Police shows the wanted notice for Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the Strasbourg attack. French security forces were trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman dead or alive, an official said Thursday, two days after an attack near the city's Christmas market. More than 700 officers were involved in the manhunt for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. (Police Nationale via AP) (Source: AP)

One of the three who died in Tuesday's attack was a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry.

Flowers and candles are put with stickers reading "I am Strasbourg" in the streets for the victims following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Flowers and candles are put with stickers reading "I am Strasbourg" in the streets for the victims following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

Earlier, hundreds of people gathered in Strasbourg's 500-year-old cathedral to mourn and seek comfort.

French soldiers patrol in the streets following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French soldiers patrol in the streets following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

"Evil does not prevail," Archbishop Luc Ravel said. "And the message of Christmas has not been contradicted but rather confirmed by Tuesday's dramatic night: Evil and good are both there, but in the end the good will have last word."

French police officers patrol in the streets front of flowers to pay respects of the victims following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French police officers patrol in the streets front of flowers to pay respects of the victims following an attack killing three persons and wounding at least 13, in Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Frenchman Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a thick police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

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Petrequin and Becatoros reported from Paris. Jean-Francois Badias in Strasbourg, Sylvie Corbet, Deborah Gouffran, and Elaine Ganley in Paris, Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, Raf Casert and Angela Charlton in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this story.