A week after the Paris shootings, new videos have appeared online and in the Daily Mail. The first video is from security cameras inside the Casa Nostra restaurant on Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, Paris, and shows the attack as it unfolded.
I was particularly interested in finding out how many people were inside the restaurant, and how many outside. Excluding the two staff at the bar, I counted 4 people inside, sitting at 2 tables. And I counted 7 people outside, 3 women and 4 men, sitting at 3 of the available 7 tables outside.
All the people inside had taken their coats off, and all the people outside were wearing coats. There were plenty of empty tables inside, so it wasn’t as if they couldn’t have come inside if they’d wanted to.
So why were 7 people sitting outside? Well, we know the reason, don’t we? They were smokers, and smoking inside restaurants and bars has been made illegal.
But the Mail doesn’t report it that way. Their article begins:
It is an unseasonably pleasant evening and some of the restaurant’s customers are eating or drinking on the terrace outside. At one table, to the right of the door looking out from the restaurant bar, sits a young woman in a chic trench coat. Her name is Lucille and she is having an al fresco supper with her boyfriend Quentin and another male friend.
At the other table on the left side of the door sit the two twenty-something women. All are regulars.
Inside the pizzeria only two tables are occupied at this hour.
Actually, it wasn’t an “unseasonably pleasant evening”. On the evening of 13 November, the sky had cleared, and temperatures were plummeting. It was around 9° C (48° F) in Paris by 10:30 pm local time. And there was a 10 mph wind blowing from the west.
That night Paris temperatures fell to 6°C, the coldest of the coming week.
In the video, when the shooting starts, two women outside the door duck under their table. And another woman (the Mail calls her Lucille) gets up and rushes inside. A bullet hole appears in the glass door as she approaches it, and there’s a bullet hole in her back (and maybe also her shoulder) which was probably received at the same time. One of her companions comes hurtling through the door behind her, apparently unhurt. The other seems to have been shielded by the large menu stand visible in the photo above. Two men on a side table first duck under their table, and then get up and run away down the road. Inside, everyone gets under their tables, and the staff crouch behind the bar.
The gunman then approaches the front door, and stops to try to shoot the two women crouching under their table, but either his gun jams or (more likely, since he’s already fired his gun quite a lot) it’s out of ammunition.
The woman hears what she later described as a click, click, click sound. She does not realise at that moment when her life hangs by a thread that it is the sound of her would-be executioner’s weapon either misfiring or out of ammunition.
The gunman walks away, and (probably) gets into a black car that has stopped outside, and which now slowly drives away past the Casa Nostra.
As far as I can make out, only two people were injured at the Casa Nostra, and nobody killed. Yet reports had said that 5 people were killed and 8 injured.
The answer to this is that there was another, larger restaurant a few yards away called the Café Bonne Biere, which had also been shot up. The two restaurants can be seen in the Google street view below:
The Café Bonne Biere had far more tables outside than the Casa Nostra’s seven. I counted 22 in all. It seems that it was here that several people were killed, not La Casa Nostra.
The second video, reported in yesterday’s Independent, appears to have been taken by a passer-by some minutes after the attack, when armed police have arrived, and there are what looks like 3 or 4 bodies lying under the outside tables nearest La Casa Nostra. Several tables and stools further along had been knocked over, suggesting that they were occupied when the shooting started, and the occupants scattered, knocking over tables as they did so.
So once again the casualties were almost certainly smokers sitting outside. There were plenty of tables inside the capacious Café Bonne Biere.
Some of the reporting seems to be inaccurate:
A few streets to the south, Mark Colclough, a psychotherapist, was walking with a friend. “We heard a firecracker and I looked around and I could see a man, and the position made it clear he was shooting.”
The gunman stood with his legs apart like a professional. “If you think of what a combat soldier looks like, that is it, just without the webbing.” Black boots, black trousers, a tight black jumper and a machine gun pointing into Casa Nostra, a pizzeria in the rue de la Fontaine.
“He killed three or four individuals who were sitting in the chairs in front of the café. We saw them get shot down. They fell off their chairs on to the ground.”
The gunman in the video is wearing a light-coloured jacket and trousers. And those people falling off their chairs were actually climbing under their tables.
It seems it was a similar story a few minutes earlier at Le Carillon, and a few minutes later at La Belle Equipe restaurant:
In these attacks, which were pretty much drive-by shootings, it was the smokers sitting outside that were the principal casualties. And they were only sitting outside because the law had “exiled them to the outdoors”.
Their blood is as much on the hands of Tobacco Control as anyone else.