Monday 23 October 2017

Paris attacks: Sister of French football striker Antoine Griezmann recalls Bataclan massacre horror

A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris
A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris
France's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates. Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images
Tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks
The band's performance on November 13 turned into a bloodbath at the Bataclan theatre (AP)
Vigils outside the Bataclan in Paris. Pic:Mark Condren
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Meadhbh McGrath

Antoine Griezmann’s sister Maud has spoken of her experience of the Paris terror attacks for the first time, and described how she initially thought the gunfire was "a prank".

On the night of November 13, the 28-year-old crowded into the Bataclan concert hall to watch the Eagles of Death Metal, while her brother, a forward for France’s national football team, was playing at the Stade de France.

Most of the 130 who died in the attacks were hostages in the Bataclan, where 89 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured.

Ms Griezmann described hearing the sound of loud pops over the music about 40 minutes after the band began to play.

France's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates. Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images
France's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates. Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images

“At first we thought it was a prank, a joke,” she told the New York Times.

“We thought it was part of the concert. But then we heard the screams.”

Ms Griezmann was attending the concert with her boyfriend Simon Degoul, and they were pushed into the front corner of the room, next to the stage, as three terrorists entered the hall with assault rifles and grenades.

Read More: France striker Antoine Griezmann confirms that sister escaped Bataclan carnage unharmed

A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris
A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris

She recalled how they both dropped to the ground in an attempt to dodge the bullets, and saw a woman fall between them.

“If you moved, you were shot. A person next to me moved, and they shot him. They just shot him, and I heard him land,” she said.

Although Ms Griezmann can’t remember much about the woman who fell next to her, or what she looked like, she recalls holding her hand, while her boyfriend grasped the other.

She explained that the three of them communicated by squeezing each others hands again and again for 90 minutes.

Tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks
Tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks

“It was the only way we could tell each other we were still alive,” she said.

She added that she felt more scared by long periods of silence than by the sound of gunshots, and noted that she removed her Dr Martens shoes so she could run faster.

When the police came in, Ms Griezmann, her boyfriend, and the other survivors ran out the door and headed to a courtyard, where she called her mother and shouted “I’m out! I’m out!” repeatedly down the phone.

It was 2am before she finally found a taxi to take her home, although she first had to beg the driver to let her in his car.

The band's performance on November 13 turned into a bloodbath at the Bataclan theatre (AP)
The band's performance on November 13 turned into a bloodbath at the Bataclan theatre (AP)

“I had blood all over my clothes. He was worried about his seats,” she said.

While Ms Griezmann was trapped inside the Bataclan, her younger brother had just escaped an explosion outside the stadium while he was playing against Germany.

The siblings are close, and she even has a tattoo of her brother’s birthday. When they were children, she said she helped him practice football by playing goalkeeper.

Vigils outside the Bataclan in Paris. Pic:Mark Condren
Vigils outside the Bataclan in Paris. Pic:Mark Condren

France is to take on Germany again in the Euro 2016 semi-final on Thursday in Marseille, but Ms Griezmann insisted that she doesn’t associate the match with the terror attacks.

“It’s an important game for Antoine, for the team, for the fans. But it is not something other than that,” she said.

“I don’t think about football with what happened. I try not to think about it at all.”

Ms Griezmann added that she has not seen a therapist since, and said: “Family and life is my therapy.”

She noted that she has only spoken to Antoine about her experience that night on one occasion, a week after the attacks in Madrid, and has since decided to “move on”.

As part of her grieving process, Ms Griezmann got a tattoo of the lead singer from the Eagles of Death Metal crying and hugging the Eiffel Tower.

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

She said she finds sounds can be more triggering for her than images from the night of the massacre.

She mentioned the sounds of shouting and feet moving as particularly frightening, and recalled an incident when she was grocery shopping a few weeks after the attacks and heard a young boy chasing after his mother.

“I heard it – the running. I thought people were being taken hostage in the store,” she said.

“I don’t know when that will stop. I don’t know if it will.”

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