PARIS — A gunman jumped out of a car, killed a police officer and wounded two others on the Champs-Élysées in central Paris on Thursday night, French officials said.
The gunman was shot dead by the police as he tried to flee on foot, Pierre-Henry Brandet, a French Interior Ministry spokesman, told the BFMTV news channel.
Mr. Brandet said that shortly before 9 p.m a car pulled up to a police vehicle that was parked on the famous boulevard.
The man opened fire on the police vehicle with an automatic weapon, killing an officer. He then “tried to leave by running away while aiming at, and trying to target, other police officers,” Mr. Brandet said.
“He managed to wound two others and was shot dead by the police forces,” Mr. Brandet added. It was not immediately known if anyone else was in the attacker’s car.
Mr. Brandet said that the exact sequence of events was still unclear, as was whether the assailant had acted alone. He denied reports that a second officer had died and said that the identity of the gunman had not been clearly established.
“It is much too early to say what the motivations were but in any case police officers who were deliberately targeted this evening on the Champs-Élysées,” he added.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Thursday night that it had opened a terrorism investigation.
President François Hollande, addressing the nation from from the Élysée presidential palace near where the shooting occurred, said that the French authorities were “convinced” that the shooting pointed to a terrorist act.
Mr. Hollande said he would convene a national security meeting on Friday morning and that a national tribute would be paid to the slain officer.
“We must all be aware that our security forces do work that is particularly difficult, that they are exposed, as one can see again this evening, and that they have the nation’s full support,” Mr. Hollande said.
Mr. Hollande said that a passerby had also been wounded in the shooting, but he did not specify how badly.
The presidential candidates quickly reacted to the shooting on Twitter. François Fillon, the conservative candidate for the Republican party, praised “security forces who give their life to protect ours,” while Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, said police officers were “once again targeted.”
The campaigns of both Mr. Fillon and Ms. Le Pen said they had cancelled all events scheduled for Friday.
The shooting occurred near the George V metro stop, not far from the Arc de Triomphe that sits at the top of the boulevard, which is lined with luxury stores and is a top tourist attraction.
Security forces quickly descended en masse on the Champs-Élysées. French television showed police officers closing off parts of the area. Nearby Métro stations were also closed.
The Paris Police Prefecture warned on its official Twitter account that a police operation was still underway in the area and advised people to stay away.
The shooting, which occurred near the presidential palace and many landmarks popular with tourists, heightened fears in a city already on edge days before the start of presidential elections. The country has been plagued not only by well-planned terrorist assaults, like the one in November 2015 that left 130 people dead in and around Paris; and the massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January of that year, but by also small-scale attacks by lone killers.
Voters in France go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of the election. The shooting occurred even as the presidential candidates were appearing on television to make their final arguments to voters.
Two men were arrested in the southern city of Marseille this week on suspicions that they were preparing an attack to disrupt the campaign.
In his address late Thursday, Mr. Hollande vowed that the authorities would maintain an “absolute vigilance” during the elections.