Parisian living in NJ: ‘These people are evildoers. They’re killing youngsters’
Jean Francois was watched the news Friday night in horror.
Reports of terror kept rolling in. By 6 p.m. Eastern time, the death toll in Paris was up to at least 60 after shootings and explosions. Another 100 people were reportedly being held hostage in a concert hall.
And Francois' 18-year-old son, Malo — a graduate of Northern Valley High School in Demarest — was nearby. Francois' brother, father and other family members were in Paris as well. Francois lives in Haworth in Bergen County, and has been in the United States for 17 years — but Paris is home.
"It’s mad. These people are evildoers," he said. "There is a feeling of frustration and anger. They’re killing youngsters, innocent people. It’s anger."
Malo is OK. He'd been in the 10th arrondissement, near where several people were killed by gunfire in a restaurant, but Francois' brother had picked him up and brought him home. The rest of the family is OK as well.
"But it's a shock," he said. "It's a shock to everybody. This could happen to anybody."
And, Francois noted when reached by New Jersey 101.5 shortly before 6 p.m., the incident wasn't over. No one had yet been taken into custody and the hostage situation was continuing.
Francois is finance director of the French American Academy, which has locations in New Milford and Morris Plains. He said his building was empty at 6 p.m. Friday — he'd only learned of the news out of Paris a few minutes earlier himself.
He wasn't sure exactly what the academy's response would be, but said he anticipated it would be reaching out to its students and staff over the weekend to offer their support.
"It's good to feel that you are part of a community. The thing that’s going to happen is a lot of emotions will pop up," he said. "You’re looking for friends, people you know, and you people can give a big hug. We’ll issue a message over the weekend to let people know we feel so sorry. There are no words for that — but we try to keep a positive feeling."
He likened the situation to the spirit that rose out of 9/11 — saying that while the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were magnitudes bigger than what happened in Paris, he hoped a similar spirit of camaraderie would emerge once the terror itself became a memory.
For now, Francois is left like everyone else, watching the news — glad his son and his brothers and their families are safe.