PARIS — It took the French police nearly three weeks to catch the man who ran down a French Equestrian Academy student and then jumped from a horse while a girl was in the other seat.
The attack happened on Wednesday at the Equestria Girls Foot School in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
A bystander filmed the horrific incident on his cellphone and posted it to social media, where it went viral.
Two days later, police arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to kill, the National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
The man allegedly jumped from the horse and ran down the path of the school where he struck the woman, police said.
“The victim fell at the feet of a young boy who was sitting on a horse with his back to the man, who then attempted to attack him,” said Marie-Josée Poulain, head of the Paris police special forces unit that investigated the attack.
The boy, who has not been named, was uninjured.
The attack took place on Wednesday morning and ended with the man apparently jumping from the Horse of the Alps to the foot of the horse, Poulains said.
Authorities identified the attacker as 34-year old Mohamed Abdeslam, a resident of Saint Denis who was living in France illegally, French news agency AFP reported.
Police arrested a second man, a 39-year year old Frenchman who was known to have lived in France legally, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.
He was not named, AFP reported, citing a French source.
The attack has renewed calls for France to close all schools and to adopt a zero tolerance approach to equestrians and horse racing, which has led to a spike in the number of fatal attacks in France.
The Equestrians are a subspecies of horses that roam in the French countryside, where they are the fastest and most graceful animals on the planet.
Poulain said that the incident shows how the country is trying to address safety concerns when it comes to equine-related violence.