The assailant, a 39-year-old French citizen, Ndiaga Dieye, known to the police and diagnosed with schizophrenia, stabbed the woman on Friday in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, near Nantes (west).
He then grabbed his gun and fled, holding a young woman hostage for several hours before injuring two police officers in a shootout in which he was shot.
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In La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Ines said she often interacted with policewoman Katell Lereec, who suffered fatal injuries but is now out of danger.
“I’m still very upset. I am very saddened for her because she does not deserve this, ”said the 77-year-old.
“She’s very, very nice, she’s sweet, even when she talks, she talks soft,” she added.
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“We attack people like that who protect us. Who are we going to be protected by if we attack these people? “
Dieye had 19 previous convictions and had spent almost half of his life in prison, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and radicalized.
Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said Dieye was on a watch list for potential terrorist sympathizers.
Since Dieye served his last prison sentence on March 22, he has found work and accommodation thanks to an integration association in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre.
His lawyer Vincent de la Morandière said “it was a failure of the judicial system”.
“He started serving a prison sentence at 17, he was sentenced all the time and it didn’t work,” he added.
“He went back and forth between the concrete of the prison and the concrete of the city. “
Dieye’s most serious conviction was kidnapping and theft after he tied up an elderly couple and covered them with a blanket before ransacking their home in 2013.
His lawyer said he was “very uncommunicative” despite a family “who sacrificed themselves to try to help him”.
Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes said that depending on the outcome of ongoing investigations, the case was likely to be referred to counterterrorism prosecutors.
Lereec, born in 1974, has an adult son, the city’s mayor said.
She was recruited “as a youth leader at the end of the 1990s on social mediation missions”, before taking the municipal police examination, said Mayor Fabrice Roussel.
A hairdresser who runs a salon behind the police station said that Lereec “is doing well, we have heard from her colleague, we can’t wait to see her again”.
The latest bloodshed comes after several attacks on police in France, leading police to demand better protection and stiffer penalties for attacks against them.