Paris attacks: bystanders give first-hand accounts of panic at Bataclan concert hall, stadium

Several reporters from CBC News are on the ground in Paris, where they have been talking to residents and visitors who witnessed the attacks or the aftermath.

'It's horrendous. Really horrendous,' says tourist from Toronto about deadly attacks

Alarming first-hand accounts of what happened during the multiple, co-ordinated attacks in Paris continue to emerge. As of Saturday evening — a full day after the attack — 129 people were dead and 352 people were injured, with 99 of them in critical condition.

Several reporters from CBC News are on the ground in Paris, where they have been talking to residents and visitors. Here are some of their stories:

Shane McMillan

Shane McMillan is a Berlin-based American photojournalist and was an eyewitness to the aftermath of the concert hall attack. He was next door with a friend when it happened. (CBC)

McMillan is a Berlin-based American photojournalist and witnessed the aftermath of one of the attacks. He was in Paris for a photography festival with a friend next door to the Bataclan concert hall when it was attacked.

The courtyard of the building he was staying at became a spontaneous triage location for the injured. 

"After a little while it slowly started to dawn on all of us that there was something going on outside and later on it took me several hours until I knew exactly what had happened … I don't think people need to know exactly what happened but it was a lot of blood."

"I'm sad to say it actually doesn't surprise me. I've lived in Europe for six years. Europe has a very complicated relationship to identity, much in the way that a lot of other places do. And I think that it all has pretty deep cultural and political connections. I think that there's a lot going on in Europe that people have been pushing under the rug for decades. And this is just going to get worse."

Brigid Finlayson

Brigid Finlayson, from Toronto, was in Paris visiting a friend when the attacks happened Friday night. (Pascal Leblond/CBC)

Finlayson, from Toronto, was in Paris visiting a friend when the attacks erupted on Friday night.

"We arrived and it was really an extraordinary experience. Actually I've never known anything like it," she said. "It felt like we were under siege. It was really quite something. So no, it's a terrible shock ... You don't know how governments are going to deal with this, but something has to be done."

"We travel in big cities and we fly around the world and we take the train back and forth between London and Paris. You worry all the time. So it's horrendous. Really horrendous."


Laying flowers in front of the concert hall, French student Eloise says she doesn't want to give in to fear after Friday's attacks in Paris. (Margaret Evans/CBC)

Eloise, a 21-year-old French student, laid flowers at a barricade just outside the Bataclan concert hall, out of respect for those who died. She was also in Paris last January during the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

"I'm very upset and sad actually and quite shocked too," she told CBC News.

"I had to just prove to myself that I wasn't so afraid... I am, but I don't want to show it because that's what they want."

Raphael Finand

Finand and his wife own a Thai food restaurant around the corner from the Bataclan. He closed the shop once he saw people fleeing the concert hall. 

Finand said he hopes business as usual will return to Paris's streets sooner rather than later. "All the shops must open. If the shops don't open, that's not good," he said. "Because it's normally alive here. Don't stop life because of these particular things."

Aaron Watkins

Aaron Watkins from St. Albert, Alta., described a surreal feeling as bombs went off outside France's national stadium. (CBC)

Aaron Watkins from St. Albert, Alta., was at the soccer game at France's national stadium when bombs went off near the venue.

"The atmosphere was very panicky. Everyone was on edge," he said.

"Everyone very pretty calm, though. But then all of a sudden I think someone yelled or someone screamed and then it just went to pure pandemonium and everyone started running and hiding. And that was a moment of my life when I thought I was going to die. It was pretty crazy."


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