Students studying abroad in Paris safe from terrorist attacks

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Photo courtesy Austin Redfern

Photo courtesy Austin Redfern

On Friday night, six sites in Paris were subjected to terrorist attacks killing upwards of 120 people, according to multiple news outlets.

A mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre, a shooting at a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement, two suicide attacks and a bombing have been reported.

The attacks are reported to have been carried out by three French brothers living in Belgium. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Three Chico State students are currently studying abroad in Paris through the California State University International Program and each of those students are safe, according to the university.

Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old design student from Cal State Long Beach, was among those killed in the Paris terrorist attacks.

President Paul Zingg sent out a campus-wide email expressing his sorrow over the tragedy, but his pride in Chico State’s ability to cope and aid one another.

“I have witnessed here a humanitarian spirit through actions of all kinds and levels to aid the afflicted: students dedicating themselves to areas of study, from forensics to international relations, to understand and combat the scourge of terrorism; campus groups and individuals demonstrating solidarity with far-flung victims in meaningful ways; students, faculty, staff and friends of our campus remaining vigilant and compassionate in helping keep our community free of violence and intolerance,” he wrote.

Austin Redfern, Junior

Austin Redfern, Junior

Austin Redfern, a junior majoring in Public Relations and French who is currently studying abroad in Paris, said he did not find out about the attacks until he began receiving texts at 11:30 p.m.

“I was at my computer and I had just finished playing video games when I got texts asking whether I was alright,” he said.

After finding out about the attacks, Redfern immediately went to social media to make sure his friends were alright and to let everyone know that he was safe, he said.

Facebook made a safety check for the Paris terror attacks so that those in the affected areas could quickly find and connect with friends.

Facebook made a safety check for the Paris terror attacks so that those in the affected areas could quickly find and connect with friends.

Facebook made a safety check for the Paris terror attacks so that those in the affected areas could quickly find and connect with friends.

Alex Horne, a junior business marketing major, arrived in Paris on Thursday night on a weekend trip from Torino, Italy, where is he studying abroad.

Alex Horne, Junior

Alex Horne, Junior

Horne did not hear about the attacks until he arrived back at his hostel at 10 p.m., he said.

“I was walking around the Montmartre district just to check it out,” Horne said. “Which is the hill district of Paris so I was actually looking down at the city from above when it started.”

Although he did not see any explosions, Horne saw many cops and heard sirens, he said.

Horne and the three girls he was sharing a hostel room with were watching CNN and messaging friends and family, he said.

“All our phones were going off. We were just constantly hearing the death toll going up,” Horne said. “We were also hearing the new locations popping up where new things were happening so that was possibly the most nerve-racking part of the whole thing.”

Horne was one mile from the theater and the restaurants where the shootings occurred and about two miles from the arena where the bombs went off, he said.

“As of right now all but one of my friends are accounted for. She should be fine though, she lives far away from what happened, at least I hope,” Redfern said.

Once Redfern heard about the attacks, he stayed inside because he lives close to one of the attack sites.

“I figure that it would be the safe thing to do,” he said.

Just 30 minutes prior to the attack, Redfern was in one of the affected areas, he said.

“I’ve heard from the news that there was an attack at Les Halles which is both a shopping mall and one of the biggest metro hubs in all of Europe,” he said. “Its a 10 minute walk away from my house, and I use it every day. I was at that station earlier this evening as well.”

Redfern is lucky to have already been home once the attacks started, he said.

“I’m lucky that I hadn’t stayed out later but when I heard about the locations of the attacks it hit me that I could have easily been out there,” he said.

Horne is not longer worried about his safety due to the French forces positioned in the city, however he wants to go home, he said.

“I do want to leave Paris though, because of all of that, it feels so hostile and on edge,” Horne said.

As to whether or not Redfern feels safe in Paris, does not matter to him, he said.

“I’m going to stay in Paris. Leaving Paris won’t accomplish anything for me,” he said. “Living in Paris has been one of my dreams for a long time and although I do miss home I need to stay here to fulfill that dream.”

In his email to the campus, Zingg wrote that Paris was synonymous with freedom and equality. He expressed that universities, like Chico State, also have these qualities.

“All of us who deeply care about these virtues must not doubt or forsake them while others, no matter who, or how, or why, wish them eroded or destroyed,” Zingg wrote. “We can not allow ourselves to be governed by fear or seduced by the politics of fear.”

Madison Holmes can be reached at [email protected] or @madisonholmes95 on Twitter.

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