PARIS (Reuters) - A Frenchman suspected of shooting a man at a newspaper office and firing into the lobby of a bank has been placed under preliminary investigation for attempted murder, a prosecutor said on Friday.
Police arrested Abdelhakim Dekhar, 48, this week after a manhunt which ended when they found him semi-conscious in a parked car in a Paris suburb, following an apparent suicide attempt. He has since been recovering in hospital.
Police suspect he was the man who shot and wounded a 23-year-old photographer's assistant at the Paris offices of left-wing daily Liberation on Monday. They identified him from DNA traces left on spent cartridges.
About 90 minutes after the newspaper shooting, he is alleged to have fired into the lobby of a Societe Generale bank, before forcing a driver to take him to the Champs-Elysees boulevard and melting into the crowd.
A magistrate at the hospital where Dekhar is being treated placed him under investigation on suspicion of attempted murder and hostage-taking, the prosecutor's office said. A preliminary investigation means police can continue to gather evidence with a view to pressing formal charges.
However, they have been unable to find the pump-action shotgun used in the shootings or any of the clothes the alleged gunman was shown wearing in surveillance footage. Dekhar left behind letters denouncing a "fascist plot" and accusing the media of manipulating the masses, but has refused to talk to police.
"The fact that he isn't speaking is holding up the investigation," a source close to the case told Reuters.
"We are still searching to see if he had another hideaway other than the apartment where he was staying."
Previously, Dekhar was sentenced to four years' jail for buying a gun used by a couple of suspected anarchist militants in a shootout with police in Paris in 1994. He claimed at the time to be an agent of the Algerian security forces.
(Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)