Gunfire, Blood, Panic — A Bataclan Survivor Recalls Paris Nightmare
Guillaume Maurice, a 40-year-old school teacher from Rouen, in northern France, is a self-described “metal head.” So when Eagles of Death Metal, an American rock band, came to the Bataclan theater in north-central Paris, Guillaume and his wife made plans to attend.
A few hours later, Guillaume and his wife would flee for their lives as Islamic State gunmen slaughtered no fewer than 100 people in the Bataclan, part of a city-wide chain of gun and bomb attacks that left at least 116 people dead.
Before leaving for Paris, 90 minutes away by car, Guillaume phoned his brother Wandrille, a student 20 years Guillaume’s junior, and invited him to tag along. But Wandrille had a date. He declined. The decision may have saved his life.
At the crowded Bataclan, Guillaume and his wife found space at the back of the balcony overlooking the stage. It was 10:00 at night, local time, and Eagles of Death Metal was playing its set. Guillaume heard sounds that, at first, he mistook for fireworks.
Then he saw them — two men, indistinct in the darkness of the club. Militants had targeted the Bataclan. In a statement on Nov. 14, Islamic State would describe the historic Bataclan as a place “where hundreds of idolaters were together in a party of perversity.”
“France and those who follow its path must know that they remain the principle targets of the Islamic State,” the terror group added. “This attack is just the start of a storm and a warning for those who wish to draw lessons.”
Guillaume realized the “fireworks” were actually gunshots. He and his wife ran, along with hundreds of concert-goers. Later he would describe confusion, panic. He would recall leaping over wounded bodies, getting blood on his clothes. He would remember seeing a man dragging his gunshot friend from the club.
According to press reports, the terrorists killed everyone at the Bataclan’s bar then headed toward the mosh pit, firing steadily. “It was carnage,” concert-goer Marc Coupris told The Guardian. “It looked like a battlefield. There was blood everywhere. There were bodies everywhere.”
Guillaume and his wife escaped through an emergency exit and took shelter in a nearby cafe. French police and counter-terror troops swarmed the neighborhood. Guillaume had left his phone behind so he borrowed one to call Wandrille.
The younger man had no idea what was happening at the Bataclan and elsewhere in Paris. He and his date were deep into a bottle of wine. “Hey Guillaume, how are you doing?” Wandrille said. “I can’t hold the line at the moment. I’ll call you later.”
“No, stay on the line,” Guillaume said in a voice that was eerily calm. “It’s an emergency. I heard some shooting and we fled.”
Shocked, Wandrille looked around the cafe and saw that everyone was on their phones. He darted into a nearby bar that had T.V.s tuned to the news. There Wandrille began to understand the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Paris. “I heard a lot of, ‘Again? Really?’” Wandrille recalled.
Police raided the Bataclan and rescued some hostages. A hundred others lay dead. All eight terrorist attackers died that night in Paris. Guillaume made it home safely with his wife. She was badly traumatized. On Nov. 14, Guillaume spent the day talking to the police … and to his brother. Wandrille asked how he felt. “Dazed and confused,” Guillaume said.