France honors police officer killed in Champs-Elysees attack

A portrait of killed police officer Xavier Jugele is seen in the courtyard of the Paris Police headquarters before an official homage, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. A gunman shot and killed Jugele on the famed Champs-Elysees just days before the firt round of the French presidential vote. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — France’s top officials and presidential candidates attended a national ceremony Tuesday to honor the police officer killed by an Islamic extremist on the Champs-Elysees.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, who are facing off in the May 7 presidential runoff, were present at the ceremony at the Paris police headquarters. Others present were Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Francois Hollande paid tribute to 37-year-old Xavier Jugele, who was killed last week when an assailant opened fire with an assault rifle on a police van parked on the most famous avenue in the French capital. Two other officers were wounded.

The attacker was shot and killed by officers. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hollande said the French people must “support the police. They deserve our esteem, our solidarity, our admiration.”

In a message to the presidential candidates, Hollande also asked France’s future government to “provide the necessary budget resources to recruit the indispensable people to protect our citizens and give them means to act even more efficiently.”

Hollande recalled that France’s police and military forces are deployed on French territory and abroad to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria and in Africa’s Sahel region.

This is “a combat that will last, a combat that will be fought until the threat is definitively over. That combat will be long, demanding, difficult but, I am certain, victorious,” he said.

Jugele was one of the officers who raced to the Bataclan concert hall the night three armed men with suicide bombs stormed a show and slaughtered 90 people on Nov. 13, 2015.

He returned to the concert venue a year later as a spectator when it reopened with a concert by Sting. Jugele told People magazine at the time how happy he was to be here “to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.”

Jugele also was a member of a French association of LGBT police officers. He was in a civil union. In a speech during the ceremony, his partner, Etienne Cardiles, said: “Let’s stay dignified, let’s take care of peace and preserve peace.”

Jugele had worked in the Paris area as a police officer since 2011. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Paris police department’s public order and traffic division.

He had received praise from bosses earlier this year for his courage during the evacuation of a building after an accidental blast in the western suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Jugele has been promoted to police captain and awarded Chevalier of the Legion of Honor posthumously.