Ahmed Merabet was "slaughtered like a dog" in the street by the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, the police union says—but the slain officer is being mourned as a hero. The 40-year-old, who is believed to have been a Muslim, pulled out his weapon when he encountered the gunmen outside the newspaper's offices and was shot in the groin when they emerged from their car, the Guardian reports. In video footage that shocked France, one gunman approached him as he lay on the sidewalk and shot him in the head. Merabet's parents are Muslim immigrants from Tunisia, although it's not clear whether he practiced the religion himself, and police say his family doesn't want media attention, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Merabet, an eight-year veteran of the force, "was killed in a cowardly way by people who had misinterpreted their sacred text," a police union spokesman says. "Yet he himself was from an immigrant background." The #JeSuisAhmed hashtag has sprung up on social media alongside #JeSuisCharlie, and some are praising the officer as a symbol of the fight for free speech, reports the New York Times. Franck Brinsolaro, the officer assigned to protect Charlie Hebdo's editor, was also killed in the attack, and colleagues say he never had a chance to pull his weapon. A policewoman in south Paris was shot dead yesterday in what authorities believe was an unrelated attack, although the gunman is still at large. (Read more Charlie Hebdo stories.)