Standing up to Terror: The Heroes of Paris
PARIS — As the city is still reeling from the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, stories of ordinary Parisians who may have saved countless lives are emerging. Among them is a security guard outside the Stade de France who reportedly barred the bombers from entering.
The guard is said to have discovered the bombers’ suicide belts during a routine check and refused to allow them to enter the stadium where tens of thousands of people had gathered for the friendly match between France and Germany.
“He frisked him and he saw something strange,” a worker outside the stadium told the Daily Beast. Smail, 32, who did not want to give his last name, works next door to the restaurant where the suicide vest was ultimately detonated. “He told him to move away.”
On Monday, the Stade de France was barred shut. A brisk wind blew passed a makeshift memorial of flowers and votive candles, which marked the bomb outside of the Events bar and restaurant.
Djemai Aziz, who was at Friday’s match, gestured to the restaurant's shattered front door. “He did it here,” he said. In the stadium, word of the attacks gradually filtered through to the crowd. “Kids were crying, it was panic inside,” he said.
“They wanted to get inside the stadium, but they weren’t able to,” the French sports minister, Thierry Braillard, told the Stade 2 sports program.
Had the guard not turned the attackers away, the carnage would have been far worse.
“They would have created an incredible panic,” a former French intelligence chief told Agence France-Presse. “People would stampede.”
Meanwhile, at the Bataclan concert hall, a police captain and his driver were the first emergency responders to enter the chaotic scene, reportedly charging inside the building as panicked concertgoers fled.
Outgunned and outnumbered, the men soon came under fire from one of the attackers. Le Parisien reports that the two returned fire, striking one of the assailants, before being forced to flee and await reinforcements.
Many others who helped that night were ordinary Parisians, like one man, identified only as “Bruno,” who risked his own life to save a woman he didn't know.
“A man saved my wife’s life last night at the Bataclan by hiding her under chairs and shielding her with his body,” Clément posted on Facebook. “His name is Bruno and we would like to thank him.”
Others welcomed injured and traumatized Parisians into their homes. Muriel Gaudry sheltered nearly 30 people at her apartment near the Bataclan, where dark bloodstains linger on her living room sofa.
“There were some who were in a state of shock, others who were badly injured,” Gaudry told FranceTV Info. “There was one young woman who had been shot twice in the back, and who couldn’t move at all.”
At a restaurant across the street from Le Petit Cambodge, Samir, who works as a server, saw injured and terrified victims in the road. As gunshots continued to ring out, he ushered two survivors downstairs, where he pressed fabric to the arm of a young woman who had been shot.
Standing outside of his restaurant, where bullet holes mar windows and storefronts, Samir is unable to forget the horror of what he witnessed that night.
“I can't sleep,” Samir told FranceTV Info. “I am tired, but I can’t. I keep reliving everything in my head...the scenes and all of it.”
If not for Samir, Bruno, and others like them, the City of Light may have experienced an even more horrific nightmare.