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What Happened At Notre Dame Cathedral? Police Respond To Shots Fired

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According to the Hill, Paris police put the Notre Dame cathedral on lockdown on Tuesday after shots were fired outside the building. Several social media reports claimed people were locked inside the cathedral as police responded to the shots and warned crowds to stay away from the area. But what happened at the Notre Dame cathedral?

Paris police said an officer shot and injured an attacker near the famous cathedral, according to the Associated Press. Parisian police had previously tweeted that a security operation was underway, but did not share more details about the threat. According to Reuters, a man was shot in the thorax after he repeatedly threatened officers with a hammer. Police reportedly reacted and shot the man, whose condition remains unclear, and one officer was lightly injured in the incident. As the event unfolded, a large police presence took over the square outside of the cathedral, and up to 2,000 people remained locked down inside the cathedral.

The motive behind the man's attack on police remains unclear. According to The Independent, the Parisian prosecutor's office's counter-terrorism unit launched an investigation into the incident. An area around Île de la Cité was cordoned off as police searched for potential accomplices or other threats, but according to the Associated Press, the security operation was over just an hour after it began.

France as a whole has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when 130 people were killed in attacks in Paris, according to The Guardian. The country's parliament chose to extend the state of emergency — which grants police more power when it comes to search and arrest procedures — until July 15, to ensure peace after the country's elections. Since early 2015, over 230 people have been killed by militant attacks, according to Reuters.

The incident at the Notre Dame cathedral took place at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time. "I was about to come inside [the cathedral] and heard the noise, the gunshots, turned around and saw the assailant on the ground where they had shot him," Kellyn Gorman, an American tourist, told the BBC on Tuesday. "It was very safe, very quickly contained."

On Twitter, Paris police updated the public. "Situation under control, one policeman injured, the assailant was neutralized and taken to hospital," the police department said in one tweet. They confirmed that members of the public who were confined or locked down during the security operation would gradually be released following routine security checks.