French media identified the victim as a high school history and geography teacher. Parents in the area had recently complained that a local teacher had shown students caricatures of the prophet Muhammad as part of a lesson on freedom of expression, France’s BFM television reported.

As authorities worked to establish a more complete picture, the potential motive of seeking revenge for the Muhammad cartoons led investigators to quickly consider the case a terrorist attack, Le Monde reported.

“Tonight, it was the Republic that was attacked with the despicable assassination of one of its servants, a professor,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. “I think tonight of him, of his family. Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”