PARIS — A nationwide search was launched Tuesday for a gunman on a motor scooter who has methodically killed three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi in the past eight days.
The chief Paris prosecutor, who is leading the investigation, said all of France's law enforcement resources have been thrown into the effort to track down and apprehend the shooter, who claimed his seven victims at close range.
"We are dealing with an extremely determined individual," the prosecutor, Francois Molins, said at a news conference. "He knows he is being hunted, and he could strike again."
The intense national concern reflected an instinctive revulsion at seeing three young children and a teacher gunned down in front of a school. But it also grew from the sudden national realization that the puzzling killings of the three soldiers appeared to also be part of the series, the work of a psychopath with remarkable self-control or acts of terrorism by a politically motivated militant.
According to witnesses, the killer rode up to Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse on a Yamaha T-Max 530 motor scooter as students gathered for morning classes. He shot a rabbi and his two young sons on the sidewalk outside and then killed a little girl in the courtyard, all at a range close enough to leave powder burns, Molins said.
The same weapon was used in the killing of a soldier March 11 in Toulouse and in the shooting of three more soldiers — two of whom were killed and one seriously wounded — March 15 in Montauban, 10 miles north.