Inside the Bataclan in Paris: ‘A bloodbath,’ witness says

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-13 22:27:20-05

By Joshua Berlinger


(CNN) — “It was a bloodbath,” Julien Pearce says.

The radio reporter was at the Bataclan, a theater and concert hall in Paris’ 11th district Friday night, listening to an American rock band perform.

The show was drawing to a close after almost an hour when gunmen stormed the venue, Pearce told CNN.

“People yelled, screamed,” he said. “It lasted for 10 minutes. Ten horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head.”

At one point, authorities said hostages were being held in the theater before French special police teams stormed the building.

At least 112 people were killed in the attack at Bataclan, the French interior ministry said.

The theater has a capacity of 1,500, Cyril Vanier, a reporter with France 24, told CNN.

More than 40 people were killed in other attacks elsewhere in Paris and in Saint-Denis, French officials said.

After police entered the Bataclan, detonations and gunfire could be heard from outside the concert hall, according to a CNN producer at the scene.

Four attackers were killed in the raid — three of whom were wearing explosive belts — according to Michel Cadot, a Paris police prefect who was interviewed on France Info radio.

Authorities were able to bring out at least 100 hostages, some of whom appeared to be wounded.

On the Facebook page of the band that was performing, Eagles of Death Metal, a post said it’s unclear where the band and crew are and how they’re doing.

But Michael Dorio, the brother of the band’s drummer, told CNN his brother is OK and that he spoke with him after the attack.

“He had been performing and heard the gunshots,” Dorio said. “The whole band heard the gunshots before they saw anything and stopped playing, hit the deck and kind of went backstage and exited as fast as they could.”

Shooting us ‘like birds’

Pearce said he was near the top of the stage when the shooting began.

He saw two people, terrorists, he said, enter the theater, “very calm, very determined” and firing “randomly.”

They wore black clothing but no masks. He saw the face of one shooter, who was very young — a maximum of 25 years old.

“He was like a random guy holding a Kalashnikov. That’s all.”

Pearce said the gunmen stood near the back of the room and continuously shot people who had dived on the floor when the shooting started — shooting some of them execution-style.

“They were not moving,” he said of the gunmen. “They were just standing at the back of the concert room and shooting at us. Like if we were birds.”

Pearce says he told the people around him to hide and play dead.

They waited until the gunmen reloaded their weapons and ran to an empty room, which didn’t have an exit.

“We were trapped,” he said.

After five more minutes of gunfire, the attackers stopped shooting. “They reloaded again, and we ran.”

Pearce found an exit and ran to the street.

On his way out, he encountered a teenage girl who had two gunshot wounds in her leg and was bleeding very badly.

“I grabbed her, and I put her on my back and we ran.”

After going about 200-300 meters, he put the girl in a taxi and told the cabbie to get her to the hospital.

When he reached the street, he saw 20-25 people laying on the ground — many of them dead or very badly injured. He said he saw no police when he first got outside.

When he first spoke with CNN, Pearce said he still had friends inside the Bataclan. He was communicating with them by text message; they were hiding.

“This is terrible,” he said, his voice cracking. “It was horrible.”

Security at the scene

Security at the concert was fairly lax, according to Pearce. There weren’t metal detectors, he wasn’t patted down, and the security guards didn’t look in his bag. They just looked at his ticket.

“Security was very poor,” he said.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Pierre Meilhan, Michael Martinez and Pierre Buet contributed to this report.

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