Thursday 23 May 2019

'My heart stopped beating, I stopped breathing' - Graphic designer describes ordeal hiding during French hostage siege

Graphic designer Lilian Lepère spent eight hours hidden under a sink at the printing business in Dammartin (Photo: France 2)
Graphic designer Lilian Lepère spent eight hours hidden under a sink at the printing business in Dammartin (Photo: France 2)
Members of the special French RAID forces secure the area for the visit by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket January 12, 2015 near the Porte de Vincennes in Paris. Photo: Reuters
Police officers patrol in front of the Rue Pavee synagogue, in the heart of Paris Jewish quarter, in Paris. Photo: AP
Security officers take position outside the kosher market where four hostages were killed and shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the site. Photo: AP
French soldiers patrol near the Eiffel Tower as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security plan after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo. Photo: Reuters
French soldiers secure the access to a Jewish school in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security plan after last week's terrorist attacks. Photo: Reuters
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFM television that France is at war against "terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam."

Roisin O'Connor

The man who corresponded with police during the hostage situation in Dammartin, France, has been interviewed by France2 about his ordeal.

Graphic designer Lilian Lepère, 26, spent eight hours hidden under a sink at the printing business in Dammartin-en-Goële (Seine-et-Marne), while the building was being occupied by the two Kouachi brothers.

From his hiding place, Lepère said he saw nothing. He simply heard the voices of the brothers: one had approached and opened the doors of a nearby closet.

During the eight hours he spent huddled in the cramped space, he managed to contact the police with his mobile phone; sending information on the brothers' location and actions without alerting them to his presence.

 

An explosion at Dammartin-en-Goële as French special forces move in on brothers Said (34), and Cherif Kouachi (32)
An explosion at Dammartin-en-Goële as French special forces move in on brothers Said (34), and Cherif Kouachi (32)
The scene outside the Paris grocery store as French special forces prepared to move on the hostage takers
The scene as French special forces stormed the Paris grocery store where a number of hostages were being held
Hostages flee from the Paris grocery store after French special forces moved to end the siege
Armed securtiy forces fly overhead in a military helicopter in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Création Tendance Découverte, a printing business in Dammartin-en-Goële where the Charlie Hebdo shooting suspects are holed up
Armed securtiy forces fly overhead in a military helicopter in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A helicopter with members of the French intervention gendarme forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Armed securtiy forces fly overhead in a military helicopter in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Members of the French gendarmerie intervention forces arrive at the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Police vans are lined up in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast Paris, as part of an operation to seize two heavily armed suspects. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
French gendarmes secure the roundabout near the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
A member of the security forces walks inside Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A French Army helicopter with intervention forces hovers near the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW MILITARY)
Gendarmes block the access to Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Police and army forces take positions in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast Paris, as part of an operation to seize two heavily armed suspects. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Ambulances arrive in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast Paris, as part of an operation to seize two heavily armed suspects. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
French gendarmes secure the roundabout near the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Helicopters with French intervention forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
Police officers control the access to Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Journalists work near the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
A gendarme van is parked in a gas station in Villers Cotteret, 80 kilometers northeast of Paris, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, where the suspects were reportedly spotted, a day after masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper and killed 12 people. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Police officers investigate a gas station in Villers Cotteret, 80 kilometers northeast of Paris, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, where the suspects were reportedly spotted, a day after masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper and killed 12 people. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
A gendarme car is parked in a gas station in Villers Cotteret, 80 kilometers northeast of Paris, where the suspects were reportedly spotted, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, a day after masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper and killed 12 people. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
A member of the French GIPN intervention police forces secure a neighbourhood in Corcy, northeast of Paris. Photo: Reuters
Members of the French gendarmerie intervention forces arrive at the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A helicopter with members of the French intervention gendarme forces hover above the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
An helicopter flies over Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, Friday Jan. 9, 2015. French security forces swarmed a small industrial town northeast of Paris on Friday in an operation to capture a pair of heavily armed suspects in the deadly storming of a satirical newspaper. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Members of the French intervention gendarme forces arrive at the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Members of the French intervention gendarme forces arrive at the scene of a hostage taking at an industrial zone in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris January 9, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Said (left) and Cherif Kouachi, the Parisian brothers of Algerian descent who are suspected of carrying out the attack on the offices of French satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, in which 12 people were murdered. Photos: PAtwo
French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve (centre) surrounded by National Police Director Jean-Marc Falcone (right) and National Gendarmerie Director Denis Favier delivers a speech as he leaves after a meeting the Elysee Palace in Paris. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
As a tribute for the victims of yesterday's terrorist attack the lights of the Eiffel Tower were turned off for five minutes at 8pm local time

 

In one heart-stopping moment one of the brothers took a drink from the sink.

A woman has taped her mouth displaying the word Freedom on the tape, as she gathers with several thousand people in solidarity with victims of two terrorist attacks in Paris (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A woman has taped her mouth displaying the word Freedom on the tape, as she gathers with several thousand people in solidarity with victims of two terrorist attacks in Paris (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A general view shows hundreds of thousands of French citizens taking part in a solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris REUTERS/Yves Herman
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
A general view shows hundreds of thousands of French citizens taking part in a solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris January 11, 2015. French citizens will be joined by dozens of foreign leaders, among them Arab and Muslim representatives, in a march on Sunday in an unprecedented tribute to this week's victims following the shootings by gunmen at the offices of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the killing of a police woman in Montrouge, and the hostage taking at a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY)
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
A statue is modified with a pencil in a show of defiance as demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
A pencil is held aloft in a show of defiance as demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France.
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France.
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 11: Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France. An estimated one million people are expected to converge in central Paris for the Unity March joining in solidarity with the 17 victims of this week's terrorist attacks in the country. French President Francois Hollande will lead the march and will be joined by world leaders in a sign of unity. The terrorist atrocities started on Wednesday with the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, and ended on Friday with sieges at a printing company in Dammartin en Goele and a Kosher supermarket in Paris with four hostages and three suspects being killed. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A giant figure depicting Marianne, the symbol of France, is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of French citizens taking part in a solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France.
The National Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square is illuminated with the colours of the French Tricolore flag, in support of the victims of recent terrorist attacks in France, including on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
A journalist holds up a placard as he joins with other Lebanese and foreign journalists, activists and intellectuals during a sit-in to show their solidarity with the victims of Wednesday's attack in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France. An estimated one million people are expected to converge in central Paris for the Unity March joining in solidarity with the 17 victims of this week's terrorist attacks in the country. French President Francois Hollande will lead the march and will be joined by world leaders in a sign of unity. The terrorist atrocities started on Wednesday with the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, and ended on Friday with sieges at a printing company in Dammartin en Goele and a Kosher supermarket in Paris with four hostages and three suspects being killed. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
French President Francois Hollande (R) speaks with Joel Mergui (C), President of the Central Jewish Consistory of France) and representatives of French Jewish associations after a meeting at the Elysee Palace on January 11, 2015
French President Francois Hollande (R) speaks with Joel Mergui (C), President of the Central Jewish Consistory of France) and representatives of French Jewish associations after a meeting at the Elysee Palace on January 11, 2015
The President of the CRIF (Representative Council of France's Jewish Associations) Roger Cukierman (2R) and the President of the Central Jewish Consistory of France, Joel Mergui (2L), speak to the media after a meeting between French President and French Jewish associations at the Elysee Palace on January 11, 2015, in Paris, France.
Posters are hung near to Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France.
Posters are hung near to Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on January 11, 2015 in Paris, France
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
Demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
Demonstrators gather near Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks
A statue is modified with a pen in a show of defiance as demonstrators gather in Place de la Republique prior to a mass unity rally to be held in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks

"I could see his shadow," Mr Lepère said. "My back was against the pipe and I could feel the water flowing.

"It was like you see in the movies. At that point the brain stops thinking, the heart stops beating, you stop breathing."

Carefully he texted his father: 'I am hidden on the first floor. I think they have killed everyone. Tell the police to intervene."

Two days of manhunts and sieges came to an abrupt and violent end last week: with the deaths of the Kouachi brothers - who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre - and a man who seized a Kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris.

"I followed the instructions of my saviours," Mr Lepère told France TV Info. "At the time of the assault, my first feeling was freedom.

"Because it had been eight hours I expect them [the police ] to conduct an assault. I had a huge pain: buttocks, legs, back ... everywhere."

In the interview Mr Lepère thanked the manager of the printing press, Michel Catalano, who had warned him of Kouachi brothers’ arrival.

"I feel fortunate and happy to see my family," he said.

(Independent.co.uk)

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