PARIS – Many of them claim they were animals. Prey with no sense of time. Targets that were not human to their hunter or to themselves.
For more than two weeks, dozens of survivors from the Bataclan concert hall in Paris have testified in a specially designed courtroom about the Islamic State group’s attacks on Nov. 13, 2015. They stand just a few steps away from 14 men accused of the bloodshed — the deadliest in modern France.
This testimony is the first time survivors have described – and learned – what happened at the Bataclan that night. They are filling in the puzzle pieces as they speak. It is the first time they have spoken out about a night that they described day after day in hauntingly similar words.
All in all, 130 were killed that night at France’s national football stadium, the Bataclan and in nearby bars and restaurants. In the three-hour attack, hundreds more were left with injuries to their bodies and souls, 90 many of them at Bataclan.
Tembling with a laser pointer, witnesses face a screen in courtroom that shows the Bataclan floorplan. This floorplan was handed by the technical director to police when they arrived to locate doors and windows. The light’s shaking pinpoints where the attackers were at the time of the attack and where they ended up.
Several survivors were only in the concert hall for a few minutes following the shooting before running outside and escaping into the streets. Others hid under the bodies of the victims on the dance floor for hours, hidden in fiberglass and crammed in a closet with a broom to block the door. They prayed silently that the three men who were determined to kill them wouldn’t find them.
All nine attackers were killed that night and in the days that followed. One survivor from the IS cell, who fled the capital after his suicide vest failed, is being tried. Others are charged with transport or logistics support.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2015, the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal was playing to a full house in the storied concert hall in central Paris. It was hot and humid, and the temperatures rose in the dance hall as the second set began.
Clarisse, then 24, was in the coatroom with a friend, getting ready to run out to a nearby convenience store for beers in the time-honored subterfuge of the young and broke. When the shooting started at the entrance at 9: 47 p.m., there was only one place to go: Back inside, into the dance pit.
But the gunmen were close behind.
” And I’m ready,” Clarisse said. “I expect to be shot in the back. It will hurt, I think. Do I risk losing consciousness? Die immediately?”
The laser dot swings on the screen as her shaking hand point to a staircase she developed an instinct which she described as “something animal almost reptilian” and sank beneath a folding chair. her , sat next to a giant man, both of whom were breathing as quiet as their panicked bodies would permit.
At first, firing was done in short bursts.
” Then, one at a moment it starts. A cry. A shot. A phone ringing. A shot. A plead. One shot. A shot.
Jerome was at the concert with six of his friends. He was located just below the sound console. They were left on the ground, with their feet on the ground, during what he called the “calm clean up.”
“As soon they stopped to reload the computer, there was no sound. Jerome describes it as “being in a cathedral with absolute silence.” The smell of blood and powder began to rise, an odor that would remain in the minds of everyone who was there that night.
Thibault and his wife were near the stage, on the ground. He looked behind him to see one of the gunmen. “His visage is exposed and I understand he said that he won’t flee. “He ‘ is going to end it with the police.
His cold comfort: “At least I’m not going to leave an orphan.”
The floor was now wet from blood five minutes after three gunmen entered the Bataclan. People surged towards the stage as the gunmen appeared to disappear.
Clarisse is one of many who took a back staircase as high as possible. They found themselves in a darkened room with a corner toilet. Standing on the toilet, she smashed through the ceiling and created a mess of fiberglass and electric wires.
Thibault and his wife, Anne-Laure, joined the crowd but lost sight of each other running upstairs. The pipes burst and water began to flood the room. People continued to climb on the toilet, and reached for others below by crawling down from the crawlspace.
Anne-Laure did not. She testified that she fled to a hiding place like an animal and then returned.
Dozens of dead and wounded still lay in that pit. Pierre-Sylvain, his girlfriend and several others were found in the middle. He felt a flash of light at the first shot of gunfire, and knew he was being hit.
When the attackers went upstairs he shaken the people who were next to him. None of them moved. He lifted his girlfriend, who appeared to be weighing nothing, and looked around.
The first thing he noticed was the blinding lights of the stage spots that were turning in all directions. The horror began.
” The entire pit was covered with bodies and it was difficult to tell the difference between the living and the dead. “I was in a concert hall, but what I had was a mass grave in front of my eyes was a mass grave.” He walked over the bodies to get out.
Pierre Sylvain only realized that he had been shot in the face. The bullet exited under his eye. The bullet splintered under his eye. His girlfriend was also hit in the head. Both survived. Between them, they’ve undergone more than 20 operations.
” I didn’t know why I was conscious. Later, I was told that the body releases endorphins to reduce pain and adrenaline to escape.” He tells the judge, his expression blank.
Sandrine, who was right next to the stage, fell to the ground at mass exit. She was trampled and her lungs were crushed.
When she regained consciousness she pushed herself up uncomprehending the moment that the floor gave way.
She can’t remember her feet touching the ground when she leaves the building. She felt something in her foot and reached for the top of her toe in hope that it was the necklace that had been lost in all the chaos.
Amandine, who had her leg and arm broken, waited even longer, hoping for unconsciousness. At 9: 56, she was already on the ground and armed with only handguns.
One hit an attacker right before he killed a hostage. His suicide vest detonated.
“Pieces from flesh fell upon me were that of our tormentor, and feathers I imagine from his jacket.” Officers asked anyone who could move to leave, but she was unable to move.
Finally, after nearly two hours, an officer pulled her by her arm. After two hours, an officer finally dragged her out by her good arm.
Edith, hidden beneath a balcony seat, was evacuated around 11: 30 p.m. Those in the balcony walked down single-file, past the pit and the bar, led by a police officer who told them, don’t look. It was impossible to not.
They ordered a hostage sit with his and go to the balcony to describe the pain of the victims. Another prisoner stood guard at the windows.
The gunmen began negotiations with the police by using one of their hostages’ phones. The doorway began to collapse suddenly. Between the heads of the two hostages, a gunshot whistled.
An enormous 90-kilogram (200-pound) black shield impervious to Kalashnikov bullets rolled through the entry, pushed by police, as big as the door itself. The shield fell on a female hostage as it teetered along the steps. The room was filled with gunpowder, dust and two concussion-grenades.
One of the attackers empty his clip, while the other blow himself up in the back staircase. The whole building shaken. Both attackers were dead; and all 11 hostages were alive, stunned, but not one struck by a bullet. It was 12: 18 a.m.
One by one, former captives were led down to the pit below. David wondered anguishfully as they passed through the bodies. Sebastien thought the same thing as David, and he testified in the same flannel shirt that he wore that night.
” I changed my job, and my life. My girlfriend changed, and I didn’t want to. He says that my new companion is herself a survivor.
It took police more than an hour to locate the survivors, who were hiding in closets and on the roof. The last people to emerge were those in the ceiling.
Clarisse is asked by the judge if she realizes that she saved many lives that night.
” So I’m told. It’s something I don’t even realize. It was impossible for me to die, even if I did everything possible to escape.”
But, she found that getting out was only the beginning. She then turns to the defendants.
” You stole my pleasure of carefree evenings and the joy of walking down the street with no panicking.
He and his wife have been unable to have children. A petite woman with a pixie cut frames her fragile cheekbones. she weeps because her was too fragile, both emotionally and physically. she apologises for others’ pains.
Edith also says her testimony feels almost illegitimate for leaving the Bataclan alive and physically unharmed. her was left a shell of the woman she once had. One of the many tattoos that are embedded her legs is the Bataclan on her left arm.
“We are still trapped in Nov. 13,” she says.
Pierre – Sylvain’s face will remain scarred for life, but he is optimistic that the trial will bring some relief.
” Because this is taking place in a sanctified area, it allows victims to talk,” he said. It can help ease our burden. This was often seen as an ending by many people. It is a beginning .”
Copyright, c) 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.