VIDEO: Suspect in French shootings dies after police raid
Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old French citizen of North African descent, died during a police raid Thursday morning, some 32 hours after a standoff began with police. Merah is suspected of killing seven people in Toulouse in a series of violent shootings.
The man suspected in the killing of seven people in Toulouse, France, including three children and a rabbi outside a Jewish school, is dead after a 32-hour standoff between him and police.
Police forces had launched a raid on the early hours of Wednesday morning, but encountered stiff resistance from the man, Mohammed Merah, and withdrew to wait him out after two of their own were "lightly" injured. After 32 hours, including an eight hour stretch when police said they had no contact with the man, police launched a second raid.
According to the BBC, the special police unit was met by a fusillade of gunfire, in which at least two more police officers were wounded. Reporters on the scene reported hearing a steady stream of automatic gunfire that eventually ended. At that point, the BBC said, Merah jumped out of a window. He was found dead a short time later.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant told reporters that the raid involved simultaneous entry to the apartment from several entrypoints. They didn't immediately find Merah and were checking the house for him when he came out of a bathroom firing. A police source told Agence-France Press that Merah was killed by police while fleeing out the window.
"A RAID [special police] officer who is used to this kind of thing told me that he had never seen such a violent assault," Gueant said to the BBC.
The New York Times reported that more than 300 rounds were fired in the exchange. French officials had indicated they'd hoped to take Merah alive, but Merah told a French radio state that if he were taken alive he'd kill more French police officers, and that he wanted to die with "a gun in my hands."
“This man wanted to bring the Republic to its knees,” President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said to the Times, but “the Republic did not yield.”
According to various media reports, if the police had not found Merah and intervened, he'd intended to kill another soldier — three of his victims were French soldiers — Wednesday.