John Leader, an Australian national and his 12-year-old Oscar son, were inside the Bataclan Theatre in Paris on Friday evening when shooters hijacked the venue. The shooters killed more than 100 people inside, but Leader and his son survived.
They described what it was like inside the Bataclan, and what they remember of the shooters to CNN‘s Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward.
At first, Leader says he thought the sound of the shots were fireworks. Moments later, everyone threw themselves on the floor.
“We heard this bang, bang, bang, and like everyone else we thought it was fireworks, or part of the show,” Leader told CNN.
“And then I felt something go past my ear, I don’t know what it was. Then I realised something was going toward the stage. At that point I think everyone understood. Everybody threw themselves on the ground. It was still dark so only the concert was lit up on the stage. As I stuck my head up from the desk to see what was going on I saw the two shooters. One was changing his magazine, so he had a whole lot of magazines in front of him and he had a big vest on.”
Leader says that shooter appeared to be a young man, “nothing particular at all.” He and his son noted that the shooter also spoke perfect French.
“He said, ‘You need to think about Syria,’ but in French, like there wasn’t any accent or anything,” Leader’s son Oscar told CNN.
Leader says there was no opportunity for anyone in the crowd to be heroic because the shooters were so organised. One managed the crowd while the other killed people.
“I could see one of the guys was covering and doing crowd control, and the other guy was executing,” Leader recalled. “So there was no chance of anyone being a hero because these guys were organised, one was covering the crowd and the other was doing the shootings.”
More than 120 people were killed during the wide-spread Paris attacks Friday evening; the majority of the victims were in the theatre with Leader and his son. Many others are in critical condition.
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