The gruesome murder seemed to be the culmination of two weeks of tension at the school, Collège du Bois-d’Aulne, in a quiet, bourgeois suburb north of Paris. Muslim parents upset by the class presentation of two cartoons published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had contacted school and police officials, but videos uploaded to social media by a father widened the dispute to an audience outside.
Investigators were still trying to piece together how the suspect spent his days before the attack, Ricard said. But the suspect did not appear to have any direct connection to the school or to have been previously involved in the dispute.
Born in Moscow, the suspect lived in France with refugee status, Ricard said, adding that he was not known to counterterrorism officials.
The brutal murder was the second violent episode in weeks to be linked to the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, which led to the deadly attacks in Paris in 2015. Last month, as the trial of accomplices in the 2015 attack began , the magazine reposted the designs – an act that was seen as a bold statement in the name of free speech by some but a reckless and unnecessary provocation by others.
Last month, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant attacked two people outside the former Charlie Hebdo offices, apparently angered after watching videos showing protests in Pakistan against the reposting of the cartoons.