A lone gunman apparently bearing a political grudge killed eight people and wounded around 20 others early yesterday in a shooting rampage at a town hall meeting in a Paris suburb.
The gunman opened fire with an automatic pistol as the meeting ended at around 1:15am in the suburb of Nanterre, methodically shooting at council members and reloading several times before being overpowered and arrested.
He was identified as Richard Durne, a 33-year-old man who lives in Nanterre with his mother. Police said he was a sports shooting enthusiast who owned the guns legally and had no criminal record.
There was no clear motive for the attack, but witnesses said that Durne was known to members of the council as an environmental activist and had in the past displayed signs of psychological problems.
Green party councillor Christian Demercastel denied that Durne was a party member, but said: "he was a sympathizer of left wing and ecological causes ... he told us that he thought there was a problem with democracy at the townhall."
Within hours both Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant and President Jacques Chirac visited the scene in Nanterre, a working class suburb with a large university student population northwest of the capital.