PARIS: The gunman who killed three people in southwest France on Friday before being shot dead by police was a 26-year-old known as a small-time drug dealer with a history of minor crimes.
The rap sheet against Redouane Lakdim, who lived in nearby Carcassonne, eventually drew deeper scrutiny by investigators worried he was at risk of Islamic radicalisation.
Lakdim, who has Moroccan nationality, was added to a watchlist of people considered possible extremists, security sources told AFP.
"He was known by the police for petty crimes, we had monitored him and did not think he had been radicalised," Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters at the scene in Trebes.
Le Parisien newspaper reported that Lakdim lived with his parents, and quoted a neighbour saying he had dropped off one of his little sisters at school on Friday morning.
Another neighbour contacted by the paper described him as "calm" and "nice" who "always had a kind word to say", adding that he regularly attended a mosque.
Yet Lakdim reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) as he stormed a supermarket and took hostages in an attack that was later claimed by the Islamic State group.
Collomb said that Lakdim had "suddenly decided to act."
His trajectory appears to have followed a grimly familiar pattern in France over recent years of young men progressing from petty crimes into terrorism, often despite surveillance by the authorities.
Since the January 2015 massacre at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris by two men claiming allegiance to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, more than 240 people have been killed in jihadist attacks.
A few days later Amedy Coulibaly stormed a Jewish supermarket in Paris, taking hostages and killing four people before being killed by police.
All three men had a history of extremism and were known to French intelligence, with Coulibaly first meeting one of the Charlie Hebdo attackers while in prison.
And in the deadliest attack, at the Stade France and the Bataclan concert hall and nearby bars in November 2015, ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving commando member, had both served time for robbery around 2011.
A string of deadly gun and knife attacks has followed, and Collomb has said dozens of others have been thwarted by police as the government stepped up anti-terror measures.
In Carcassonne itself, police had arrested a 22-year-old man in June 2016 on suspicions he was planning to target American and Russian tourists, after months of surveillance.