I thought I was going to die - North East man caught up in Paris terror attacks speaks of horror of Bataclan concert massacre

Police activity by the Bataclan concert hall, Paris, one of the venues for the attacks in the French capital which are feared to have killed around 120 people. Picture: Jamie McKinnell/PA.
Police activity by the Bataclan concert hall, Paris, one of the venues for the attacks in the French capital which are feared to have killed around 120 people. Picture: Jamie McKinnell/PA.
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A North East man has revealed how he thought he was going to die after being caught up in the Paris terror attacks.

Michael O’Connor has spoken of the horror that unfolded during the massacre at the Bataclan concert venue.

Shoes abandoned on the street near to the Bataclan concert hall, Paris

Shoes abandoned on the street near to the Bataclan concert hall, Paris

He told how a gunman fired indiscriminately into the crowd at the Eagles of Death Metal concert, changing the magazine of his automatic rifle as people tried to flee for their lives.

Mr O’Connor, from South Shields, told the BBC of the chaos inside the venue with “people falling all over the place, people screaming, people just clawing and running and pushing to get away”.

He said: “Once I half-realised what was going on, my first instinct was to get me and my girlfriend out of there.

“The attackers, I don’t think I heard them saying anything or shouting anything or making any demands, they were just firing indiscriminately into the crowds.

“Once he had emptied the magazines, everybody got back up and tried to make another dash for the exit, and then he just reloaded and started to fire into us all again.”

Mr O’Connor, who described the scene as a ‘slaughterhouse’, lay on top of his girlfriend to try to protect her as people played dead to avoid attracting the attention of the gunmen.

“There were wounded, it was really strange because they looked terribly wounded and they were obviously conscious but they weren’t crying out, they were obviously trying to stay quiet so that they didn’t attract more gunfire.”

He added: “I thought I was going to die. At one point it sounds like they were firing down from the balcony into the main area where everybody was lying.

“I guess I thought at some point ‘they are just going to shoot at us as well’ and everybody else.”

Recalling the events of Friday night, the 30-year-old said: “We were quite close to the stage just dancing. We heard a loud bang but thought it was part of the set.

“I saw one person. I think it was two people who entered from the back of the arena and open fire.

“I grabbed my girlfriend and pulled her with me and tried to make my way towards the exit.

“There were people falling all over the place, people screaming, clawing and running and pushing to get away.

“It happend so quickly once I half realised what was going on my first instinct was to get me and my girlfriend out of there.”

Michael said there was a small fire exit and they tried to push towards it, but a metal barrier, which was intended to stop the crowds getting on the stage, blocked their route.

He added: “When he started to shoot again we just hit the floor, just dropped to the ground.”

Michael said he lay on top of his girlfriend to protect her and there were people lying on top of them.

“I could see lots of other people not moving they were obviously dead,” he added. “I thought if we move we are going to be killed.

“One of the most eerie parts was when you can hear someone methodically reloading his gun just to start open firing on you again, terryfying.”

“We just went limp. We were whispering to each other within the group telling each other we ere going to be ok gently holding each others hands.

“I thought I was going to die. I just told my girlfriend that I loved her, what else can you do in that situation? I expected to die.”

“I saw the door slowly open and then I saw torches and flashlights and thought it’s got to be the police. It was then I could finally start to think we actually might survive this.

“Police told us to wave our arms if we could to let them know who was alive.

“It looked like an abattoir, it was like a slaughterhouse. I was wading through blood it was a centimetre deep in places. We had to climb over bodies to get out. It was just carnage.”

“The best thing we can do is to get on with our lives, what they want to do is terrify us. We should just try and get on with our lives, we can’t let them win, these people are just monsters.”

“The way I feel now is we should just wipe them out off the face of the earth.”

Michael, who lives in Lyon, said his family has no idea he was in Paris.

He added: “My mother broke down when I told her I was in there, she thought I was safe in Lyon.”

Michael is now planning to come to South Shields to see his family and friends.