CNU Student in Paris Recalls the Aftermath of 11/13’s Terrorist Attacks

His interview with Lions Roar

Kylee Baines, Staff Writer

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On the night of November 13th, Cole Fairbanks, a Christopher Newport University senior, found himself caught in between several terror attacks on the city of Paris.

Fairbanks is currently studying Political Science and Spanish abroad for a semester in Seville, Spain. While visiting friends in Paris, Fairbanks found himself minutes away from the Le Batalcan concert hall, where hundreds were being held hostage by ISIS terrorists.

“It was just a normal night; we went on the top of the Arc Du Triumph, under the Eiffel Tower, by the river Seine, and then left the restaurant around 9:30 to head towards the Bataclan Theatre,” said Fairbanks. “The first thing we saw while walking was people rushing out with their cellphones. We kept walking down this one street and two Parisians stopped us, claiming that we probably didn’t want to continue any farther.”

The Parisians told Fairbanks and his friends about a multitude of gunshots coming from that direction.

“Our first reaction was that it was a bar fight or maybe a gang in Paris – something of that nature,” recalls Fairbanks. “France has really strict gun laws so shootings are pretty rare. It wasn’t until we saw a magnitude of ambulances and people flooding out of buildings that we thought ‘Okay, maybe something else is going on here’.”

Fairbanks and his friends found a parked taxi driver nearby, and learned of the terrorist attacks going on only yards away.

They then turned around and ran into another obstacle, a police blockade with between 50 to 100 police cars and ambulances.

“We were pretty much trapped between these two attacks,” said Fairbanks. “So then we tried to go east and go around the city into the suburbs, but found there was another attack there.”

Finding themselves stuck, Fairbanks and his friends Maxime Bonnabry-Duval and Charles Regnaudin, decided to call a mutual friend. The group ended up staying at her apartment to wait out the attacks and watch the coverage.

With his family still in the states, Fairbanks recalls his parent’s initial nonchalance about the situation, then their quick transition into worry.

“Their first reaction was kind of disbelief, I called and let them know I was in Paris and safe but the news hadn’t really hit American media yet, they were just kind of like ‘Oh, okay’. I don’t really think they understood the gravity of the attacks. I think later when they saw the death count continue to rise with the number of attacks that they were like ‘Okay, where are you exactly?’ and wanted details.”

Later that night the group ventured out onto the streets. “I did go behind the movie theatre and see bodies lined along the street, blood on the road, and countless bullet rounds,” said Fairbanks. “It was pretty disturbing.”

Yet Fairbanks claims that even in the mass panic of the moment the French Authorities handled the situation well.

“They were efficient and they were quick; I think most may have been in shock, but all of the attention was diverted towards the attacks. I’ve never seen so many police and ambulances in my life.”

Moreover, the recent Paris attacks hold an eerie resemblance to the September 11th attacks on the United States. While only around 8 at the time, Fairbanks says he recalls watching the attacks with pretty significant clarity, and has no problems drawing similarities and differences between the two attacks.

“Both responses from the presidents were pretty rhetoric driven. I think the US response was a bit heavier, but the French have ramped up their bombings in Syria and are trying to cooperate with the coalition and United Nations,” he said. “The biggest difference is probably when you look at the French news from the next day; it was all about uniting the people, whereas the US was more political — Democrat versus Republican. The French media has been using the term “Solidarity” to unite Parisians against ISIS.”

With most nations now on edge, masses of fleeing Syrian refugees are also an issue France and other European countries are still dealing with.

“After seeing what I saw, I think priority number one is taking out ISIS–quickly and efficiently. However, we can’t give up the humane side of this whole thing. We have millions of people who are innocent and struggling, people whom have left their homes overnight with what little food and belongings they have, and with children in their arms that are asking for help. The European nations are taking in millions of refugees, including Paris; even in light of the recent attacks.”

Fairbanks claims that even in the light of the recent events, he has plans to revisit France before his return to the states.


Police and emergency personnel responding to terrorists.

Cole Fairbanks
Police and emergency personnel responding to terrorists.

The night of the attack; Parisians with emergency blankets.

Cole Fairbanks
The night of the attack; Parisians with emergency blankets.

Paris police.

Cole Fairbanks
Paris police.







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