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Witness Describes Scene Outside Concert Hall In Paris


We now turn to a witness outside - a witness in Paris. We've been reporting to you all evening about a series of attacks in the city. We're going to speak with Paolo Bevilacqua. He was in a shop near the concert hall. This is a hall where many people were taken hostage. That hostage situation is now over as far as we know. French elite security forces went in.

And Paolo, first tell us - where were you when you first heard the attacks? How did you know something was wrong?

PAOLO BEVILACQUA: Actually, I was in a shop. And I was buying some stuff. And soon I heard people screaming and say, people are shot, and they're in the street. And I was kind of surprised. So I get out of the shop, and people was running in the street and screaming and crying. And actually, I didn't understand what happened, you know? And I was kind of surprised and at least, like, one block from the Bataclan. And I came back home, and I decide to watch TV. And suddenly, I realized that it was an attack.

CORNISH: And you mentioned the Bataclan is the name of this concert hall. Right now, what was the scene out there? Were you seeing ambulances as well? Did you have any sense of that hostage situation being over?

BEVILACQUA: Actually there were, like, plenty of cops around, plenty of firemen and plenty of ambulance. And I heard some gunshots, and I realized that that was weird because we are in Paris. And to hear some gunshots in Paris, it doesn't happen every day. So I was like, wow, something happened very - something very...

CORNISH: Unusual.

BEVILACQUA: ...Bizarre. Exactly, exactly.

CORNISH: You said that you returned home or to someone's apartment to watch television. Can you talk about the mood? Are people calling each other? Are people gathering together?

BEVILACQUA: You know, honestly I received a lot of messages. All my friends send me messages and are seeing if they were home and if everything was all right.

CORNISH: So friends are sending each other messages, checking in to see if you're all right, also on social media?

BEVILACQUA: Exactly, exactly. And, you know, when you live in a situation, you don't realize what happened. But when you receive so many messages of friends, you realize that something happened. And I respond, I realize that something very huge happened in Paris one block from my place. And it was like, wow. And so I turn on the TV, and I watched the TV. And I realize that - you know what? It's, like, more than 100 people were killed tonight, like, like, to my door.

CORNISH: Yes, you're talking about estimates we're hearing from some authorities of upwards of 100 people killed. Certainly those numbers are not confirmed yet. Before I let you go, can you just give us a sense of what you're hearing from, I guess, police and on TV? Are people being told to stay indoors?

BEVILACQUA: Yeah. They say that you have to stay home. But the thing is, like, the French president say that we are under attack. So he said that the new rules that now in Paris - I'm sorry, my poor English...

CORNISH: No, it's fine. You said the city is under attack, yes?

BEVILACQUA: Yeah, we are under attack. So there's new rules now, and it's like now - what I want to say that today would be never as yesterday because yesterday we were in like a free country. And now we are in a country where everything is under control by the state, you know what I mean?

CORNISH: Yes, and thank you so much. Paolo Bevilacqua, he is a resident who lives near the concert hall that was under attack. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.