Scottish Daily Mail

They even butchered fans in wheel­chairs

- From David Jones IN PARIS

An hour into the rock con­cert, the at­mos­phere was fre­netic. The band had just fin­ished play­ing a num­ber called Save A Prayer and — hav­ing told their rau­cous Parisian fans they loved them — they were launch­ing into an­other favourite, Kiss The Devil.

how sick­en­ingly ironic th­ese song ti­tles seem now. As the strobe lights flashed, sil­hou­et­ting the Ea­gles of Death Metal drum­mer Ju­lian Do­rio rais­ing his sticks and white-bearded guitarist Dave Catching thrash­ing out a riff, a vol­ley of cracks rang out — so loud they cut right through the thrum­ming heavy metal mu­sic.

Many among the hip young crowd whooped and cheered, think­ing it must be some zany py­rotech­ni­cal prank. Even when four men burst through the doors bran­dish­ing semi-au­to­matic weapons and bristling with mag­a­zines of am­mu­ni­tion, some thought they were part of the spec­ta­cle.

Ju­lian Do­rio in­stinc­tively knew bet­ter. Though par­tially blinded by the stage lights, he cow­ered in­stinc­tively be­hind his drum kit. Two other band mem­bers also hurled them­selves to the floor. Yet the guitarist stood stock still be­side his mi­cro­phone, as if paral­ysed by the enor­mity of the scene un­fold­ing be­low him.

CUT DOWN WITH­OUT A SEC­OND THOUGHT

IT Was 9.49pm, at one of the coolest venues in Paris, the Bat­a­clan Con­cert hall, just off the Place de la republique; a room packed with chic Left Bank in­tel­lec­tu­als and a good many Britons clam­our­ing to see the cult Cal­i­for­nian band on their Euro­pean tour. But that packed hall was about to be­come a Dante-esque vi­sion of hell.

A place where the slight­est sound or move­ment — the ner­vous twitch of a limb, a whis­pered word of prayer — could fix some in­no­cent young per­son in a gunman’s mer­ci­less sights. A place where even dis­abled pop fans, sit­ting help­lessly in their wheel­chairs, were cut down with­out a sec­ond thought.

Dressed in black, their faces un­masked, the ter­ror­ists had screeched up in a black sa­loon car, and sprayed the adjacent cafe with bul­lets be­fore burst­ing into the con­cert hall.

Among the first to die were those stand­ing clos­est to the front doors and drink­ing at the bar. within sec­onds, the cracks grew louder and more sus­tained echo­ing around the hall with hys­ter­i­cal squeals, and bul­let-rid­den peo­ple be­gan col­laps­ing like domi­noes.

how­ever, the hall is quite small, and many of the 1,500 fans were hud­dled to­gether so tightly that those who were shot didn’t hit the ground at first. In­stead, they fell, writhing, against those be­side them, drench­ing them in blood.

‘Al­lahu Akbar!’ the ter­ror­ists bel­lowed: a cry that is sup­posed to glo­rify the Almighty but has be­come a mantra for mur­der. ‘This is for Syria!’ shouted one in flaw­less French. ‘It’s hol­lande’s fault.’ now it was hor­ri­bly clear who th­ese men were and what they had come for.

As the mil­i­tar­ily or­gan­ised ter­ror­ists took up their po­si­tions — one stand­ing sen­try in the pil­lared bal­cony, oth­ers re­main­ing be­low to pick out the first tar­gets (il­lu­mi­nated by the bright over­head lights) — peo­ple fell to the floor.

Some barely dared to breath; oth­ers reached for their phones to whis­per and tap out des­per­ate mes­sages to loved ones.

Eighty-nine rock fans never made it out of that hall, and hun­dreds more suf­fered ter­ri­ble wounds, some picked off as they ran down the al­ley.

OVER TWO HOURS OF SLAUGH­TER

Among the vic­tims was nick Alexan­der, 36, a gen­tle, bearded man from Colch­ester, much loved on the heavy metal rock cir­cuit, who made his liv­ing sell­ing as posters and T-shirts. he was there with his Amer­i­can for­mer girl­friend, he­len wil­son, who was shot in both thighs, but lived. ‘It was may­hem,” she said from her hos­pi­tal bed.

‘when any­one started run­ning they would shoot them, so we got down on the floor. They ma­chine­gunned ev­ery­body.’

The ran­dom slaugh­ter was to go on in­ter­mit­tently for two hours and 40 min­utes. he­len de­scribed how the killers chill­ingly dis­patched dis­abled fans, who were seated in a spe­cial area with the best view of the stage. ‘They went into the back room where there were peo­ple in wheel­chairs and they just started shoot­ing them,’ she said.

Among the oth­ers killed was a cousin of the French in­ter­na­tional foot­baller, Las­sana Diarra, who was play­ing for his coun­try against ger­many, just a few miles north of the hall at the Stade de France, the tar­get of an­other of the at­tacks.

It was a night of so many bleak co­in­ci­dences. And there are still many unan­swered ques­tions. what be­came of gilles Leclerc, for ex­am­ple, a bearded young man who posted a selfie of him­self with his girl­friend, Mar­i­anne La­banane, on In­sta­gram — rais­ing their plas­tic beer glasses and gaz­ing enig­mat­i­cally into the cam­era — as they waited for the con­cert to start?

Mar­i­anne, we know, sur­vived, for yes­ter­day she re­ceived help at a vic­tims’ sup­port cen­tre set up in a nearby town hall. But last night, as his an­guished par­ents ap­pealed for in­for­ma­tion about him on Face­book, gilles was still ‘miss­ing’.

NO CHANCE TO BE A HERO

Two Scot­tish friends, at the con­cert as a joint birth­day cel­e­bra­tion treat, who man­aged to sneak down into the cel­lar be­low the hall and hide there with some Ital­ian men, lis­ten­ing to the ter­ri­ble events un­fold­ing above them.

John Leader, an ex-pat Aus­tralian who took his 12-year-old son os­car to see his favourite band.

he de­scribes hear­ing the ‘fire­cracker’ sound, then feel­ing the ‘whis­tle’ of a bul­let go past his ear.

‘one of the gun­men was surveillin­g the crowd while the other was shoot­ing on it,’ he said. ‘Peo­ple in their sights had no chance of sur­viv­ing. There was no chance of be­ing a hero be­cause th­ese guys were very or­gan­ised.’ At one point in the chaos, he said, he be­came sep­a­rated from his son and be­gan shout­ing for him fran­ti­cally, obliv­i­ous to the risk of draw­ing at­ten­tion to him­self.

Mer­ci­fully, they were re­united; though some­one be­side os­car was shot dead and, speak­ing to Cnn, the young boy re­called his dis­tress at be­ing forced to lay next to a corpse — the first he has ever seen in his ten­der years.

It of­fered a glimpse of what it must have been like to be in that con­cert hall, as the sec­onds and min­utes went by and the as­sas­sins went about their evil work.

Yet per­haps the most graphic and chilling first-hand de­scrip­tion comes from a name­less sur­vivor who penned his ac­count on­line, a few hours af­ter es­cap­ing.

hav­ing thrown him­self to the floor as the shoot­ing be­gan, he de­scribes peo­ple’s agony as they lay — for al­most three hours, let us not forget — ‘on top of each other in con­trived, painful po­si­tions, face on the ground, head rest­ing on what­ever, a leg for ex­am­ple, all on top of a blood­bath.’ Cramped in this grotesque

po­si­tion, he then played out the ‘worst game I have ever played’ — si­lently hold­ing his breath and re­main­ing mo­tion­less and hop­ing against hope that he wouldn’t be the next one to die.

Pray­ing he could hold out un­til help came.

‘PLEASE SHOOT THEM . . . NOT ME’

PE­RI­OD­I­CALLY, he says, the aw­ful si­lence was punc­tu­ated by gun­fire — not in time, with no logic.

‘Noth­ing. Just gun­fire now and again. and we asked our­selves if the next bul­let was for us . . . wait­ing for the po­lice to ar­rive with­out any no­tion of time (I couldn’t get to my phone), feel­ing peo­ple get­ting up, to sud­denly get­ting shot down. again . . . and again.’

Peo­ple were so closely en­twined that it was as if they were ‘in­ter­wo­ven to­gether’.

When some­one be­gan to cry, oth­ers begged them to hush. ‘ev­ery mus­cle was numb,’ and it was im­pos­si­ble even to raise one’s head and see what was hap­pen­ing else­where in the hall with­out draw­ing the gun­men’s at­ten­tion. ‘So we waited, as if play­ing lottery with the ter­ror­ists,’ the sur­vivor went on. ‘you have th­ese aw­ful thoughts, such as: “I beg, please not me . . . aim at the other side of the hall.”

‘Th­ese thoughts are in­ter­rupted by gun­fire.’

at one point he felt the jolt of a huge explosion — the sound of a grenade be­ing hurled into the pit near the stage, some­one later told him. as the noise sub­sided, peo­ple be­gan pan­ick­ing and writhing, and phones be­gan ring­ing, bring­ing more shots and height­en­ing the sense of fear.

Fi­nally, at about 12.30am, some­one be­side him whis­pered the words he thought he would never live to hear: ‘The po­lice are here.’

For a few min­utes the shoot­ing abated and noth­ing seemed to be hap­pen­ing. But the hall was sur­rounded by armed po­lice and the or­der had been given to storm the build­ing.

The ter­ror­ists emerged from the hall and a fierce gun bat­tle raged with bul­lets ric­o­chet­ing off parked cars. By some re­ports the shoot­ing lasted half an hour, but by 1am it was over.

‘It was a re­lief that I can­not de­scribe,’ the sur­vivor re­calls. ‘Peo­ple just looked at each other, shak­ing. I col­lapsed in a tor­rent of tears, shak­ing all over.’

Fear­ing some of the ter­ror­ists might have hid­den them­selves among the crowd, the sur­vivors were searched and or­dered to leave the build­ing with their hands on their heads. But the po­lice needn’t have wor­ried — the gunman, cow­ards to the last, had taken the quick way out and blown them­selves to smithereen­s.

So, the long­est, blood­i­est night was over. If we still can’t be­gin to imag­ine how it must have been for those rock fans en­joy­ing their Fri­day night out, one grisly pho­to­graph, taken in­side the con­cert hall soon af­ter the mas­sacre, tell us all we need know.

It shows the de­bris and the body parts, and the floor tiles smeared with huge streaks of con­gealed blood.

‘Who’ll love the devil? Who’ll sing his song?’

By the grimmest of ironies, those are the lyrics of the song that the ea­gles of death Metal were play­ing when the first bul­lets struck. Now we know the an­swer.

 ??  ?? IN­SIDE THE HALL OF DEATH
Mon­strous: This pic­ture is dis­tress­ing but we print it to show the true hor­ror of the at­tack. The vic­tims’ bod­ies have been pix­e­lated
IN­SIDE THE HALL OF DEATH Mon­strous: This pic­ture is dis­tress­ing but we print it to show the true hor­ror of the at­tack. The vic­tims’ bod­ies have been pix­e­lated
 ??  ?? Shoot to kill: Armed po­lice, scram­bled to the Bat­a­clan, take aim at the ji­hadist gun­men
ARMED PO­LICE FIRE AT TER­ROR­ISTS...
Shoot to kill: Armed po­lice, scram­bled to the Bat­a­clan, take aim at the ji­hadist gun­men ARMED PO­LICE FIRE AT TER­ROR­ISTS...
 ??  ?? Get down: They take cover as ter­ror­ists re­ply with a vol­ley of fire, ric­o­chet­ing off a car
THEN SPARKS FLY AS JI­HADIS SHOOT BACK
Get down: They take cover as ter­ror­ists re­ply with a vol­ley of fire, ric­o­chet­ing off a car THEN SPARKS FLY AS JI­HADIS SHOOT BACK
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? A BLOOD­IED SUR­VIVOR
Out of hell: Drenched in blood, a sur­vivor phones loved ones to say he’s safe
A BLOOD­IED SUR­VIVOR Out of hell: Drenched in blood, a sur­vivor phones loved ones to say he’s safe

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