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Police Believe They Have Shot Dead Gunman In Strasbourg Christmas Market Shooting


French police say they've killed the man they believe murdered three people and wounded 12 others at a Christmas market in the city of Strasbourg this week. Reporter Jake Cigainero reports from Strasbourg people are trying to come to terms with what has happened to their city.

JAKE CIGAINERO, BYLINE: The sharp air in Strasbourg smells like Christmas, cinnamon and hot wine. But the stalls of the Christmas market outside Notre Dame Cathedral are shuttered today. At a nearby memorial of flowers and votive candles, Audrey Tonello weeps as she places messages and drawings from her students. She said many of them were at the market when the attack took place.

AUDREY TONELLO: They are shocked. We know that it's possible, but never here (laugher).

CIGAINERO: She reads one of her students' notes.

TONELLO: (Reading in French).

CIGAINERO: "It's horrible that you kill someone and then run," the note says. "I pray for the victims, their families and the terrorist." Tonello hopes the spirit of the season will help to heal Strasbourg.

TONELLO: For me, Christmas - it's maybe the medicine for this trauma. We will be together in family, with friends. It's sad, yeah, but we will be together.

CIGAINERO: Once the market reopens, she plans to take her mother there on Christmas Eve.

TONELLO: It's magic. It's just magic.

CIGAINERO: Julien Messner is a 19-year-old native of Strasbourg. He calls his city the capital of Christmas. This afternoon, he came to pay his respects at one of the makeshift memorials in the city square.

JULIEN MESSNER: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: "The Christmas market is a tradition, an old institution," he says. "For this to happen really kills our morale."


CIGAINERO: Carole Mary lives outside Strasbourg and has been coming to the Christmas market for more than 60 years. She says it's a tradition for her and her family.

CAROLE MARY: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: "We see a lot of people from all over the world," she says. "I come for the decorations. And you can smell the Christmas tree."

MARY: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: "It smells good," she says. But Mary admits the possibility of an attack on the market has always been in the back of her mind.

MARY: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: "We think about it every year, and here we are," she says.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in French).

CIGAINERO: In the evening people, gather at the Gothic 15th-century cathedral for a vigil mass to remember the dead and wounded. One of the victims was a 67-year-old local retired man who had been meeting his wife and son for a drink, the other a tourist from Thailand. The third victim was a 45-year-old mechanic from Afghanistan. A naturalized French citizen, he had brought his wife and young family to the market. His funeral will be at the mosque where he went to pray. After the vigil, Strasbourg's deputy for tourism, Paul Meyer, talked about the city's Christmas market, which has been held for 450 years.

PAUL MEYER: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: "The Christmas market is not a business issue. It's a way of life," he says. "It's a place where all communities, nationalities and religions meet and celebrate this time of sharing together." Meyer then walked away past groups of police and soldiers on his way to a meeting at the town hall where he and his colleagues will decide when to reopen Strasbourg's christmas market. For NPR News, I'm Jake Cigainero in Strasbourg.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIDUS' "GET IT RIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.