A month after coordinated terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris, the first police officer to enter the Bataclan theater, where 89 people were killed, described that night to Radio France Info.
The unidentified officer, who shot and killed one of the attackers, described in chilling detail the “indescribable moment of terror” he found in the concert hall, at which the Eagles of Death Metal, an American folk rock band, had been playing.
On that fateful evening, the anonymous officer, a police commissioner and head of BAC (Paris’s Anti-Crime Brigade), was on night duty when he got an alert about the explosion at the Stade de France.
Along with his partner, the commissioner immediately headed towards the stadium. While en route, however, they received a second alert concerning shootings in the 10th and 11th arrondissements of Paris.
Changing route, they were the first to arrive at the Bataclan. Outside the theater, he told the station’s reporter, Oliver Boy, “There were people crying, screaming for help, saying ‘Hurry, hurry, They’re shooting.’ Some saying, ‘My wife is inside’ or ‘My children are inside.’ So right away we decided to go in.”
He continued: “What surprised us immediately was the extremely strong light, blinding us. Then, a bewildering silence. Especially in contrast to what we had heard outside with people screaming, with shots being fired, with Kalashnikovs [rifles] going off. It was surrealistic and there were hundreds of bodies on top of each other.”
He added, “None of them moving. They were all dead.”
Officer: ‘I Was Sure I Was Going to Die That Night’
Both officers were equipped with only their service revolvers and light bulletproof vests. They knew that they were facing a series of coordinated attacks, but did not know how many gunmen they faced.
After they advanced into the concert hall, the officers saw one of three terrorists about 15 feet away, walking onto the stage, his Kalashnikov rifle pointed directly at a spectator.
“He was very poised, very calm,” said the officer. “He was giving orders. In view of the carnage, there was no doubt about what we had to do.”
The officer moved to a pillar beside the bar to steady his aim, and, he said, “took the shot immediately. We continued to shoot until the terrorist hit the ground. I shot four rounds, my partner, two.”
When the shooter hit the ground, “an explosion went off.” At that moment, the officer said he became fearful that the terrorists would detonate explosive devices on their persons.
The shooting and explosion evidently alerted other attackers to the presence of officers: A crossfire ensued, and at the height of the danger, the officer said he and his partners both called their significant others to say goodbye.
“I was sure we would not back down. [My colleague and I had] decided that we could not leave these people. I was sure I was going to die that night. So I left a message to my girlfriend to say goodbye,” he said.
The message, he added, consisted of “just a few words to explain.”
After taking on more gunfire, he and the other officer managed to back out of range of the gunmen as reinforcements arrived – and then re-entered and secured the theater on the ground floor while anti-terrorist units surrounded terror suspects who had taken hostages on an upstairs floor.
The officer returned to work shortly after that night. A month after the horror, he said he feels the need to talk about the horror. “It”s not too difficult for me to digest but it is rather hard for my relatives who may not understand that one can sacrifice his life to save others,” he said.