No group has yet to claim responsibility for the devastating attack on Nice that left at least 84 dead and more than 200 wounded after a truck driver mowed over revelers who were massed together to watch the Bastille Day fireworks on the city’s seaside promenade. Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the driver, but Nice’s local media has said the man is a 31-year-old Nice resident of Tunisian descent named Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel.
Bouhlel appears to be the lone attacker, though police are searching for potential accomplices. As crowds awaited the start of the fireworks show, the suspect steered a large white truck onto the packed promenade. He appeared to accelerate, swerving left and right to plow down as many people as possible as they tried to flee. He had at least one gun, and he reportedly fired into the crowd. The suspect drove for more than a mile until police shot and killed him.
Authorities reportedly found Bouhlel’s wallet and identification on him after he died in a shoot-out with police. The suspect was armed with a handgun, and authorities found a cache of weapons and explosives stored in the back of the truck, though many, including an AK-47, turned out to be fakes. Bouhlel’s plot does appear to be premeditated, and he rented the truck from a town outside of Nice two days before the rampage, on Wednesday. He had reportedly been parked near the promenade for some time before he sped toward the crowd, attracting the attention of police who questioned him, reports The Telegraph. Bouhlel allegedly told the cops he was delivering ice cream. Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine suggested the idea of using a vehicle as a weapon in 2010, a plan that would be easy to carry out and maximize carnage.
Reports say Bouhlel was born in the seaside Tunisian town of Msaken and moved to France in 2005. He worked as a delivery man in Nice and was married with a 3-year-old, though he appears to have been separated from his wife and living alone up until the attack. Police raided his apartment after the rampage, according to local media. His ex-wife was reportedly taken into custody for questioning.
The suspect had no known terrorist ties, but did have a pretty lengthy criminal history that included some petty crime, theft, and domestic violence, reports the BBC. Neighbors described him as someone who did not appear religious and was more interested in “girls and salsa.” Nearby residents told The Telegraph that he broadcasted his marital and financial problems. Jasmine, a 40-year-old neighbor, described him as “rude and a bit weird.”
“We would hold the door open for him and he would just blank him,” Jasmine said. “He kept himself to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had martial problems and would tell people in the local cafe. He scared my children though.”
Jasmine added that he was “very smart with the same haircut as George Clooney.”
This post has been updated with new details.