AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Some locals shared their story after they were in Paris when a terrorist attack happened last week.
It happened Tuesday when a man attacked police guarding the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the locals happened to be in the church when it all went down.
While touring Europe, they had a layover in Paris last Tuesday, so of course they made the most of it. The Notre Dame Cathedral was at the top of their list to visit. Little did they know, that day would be a lot more eventful than usual.
“The police… there was a click and a lock down on those doors…and we knew something was wrong,” Joanne Paulos, from Augusta, said.
Paulos and her group later found out that they were in the middle of a terrorist attack. A man used a hammer to bash a Paris police guard in the head, right outside outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral. All the while, the attacker was crying “This is for Syria!” He was then shot and wounded by officers.
The Augusta locals had no idea what was going on, but for Josh Dooley, he just wanted to find his wife.
“We had said we would meet in front of Notre Dame if we got separated. So I was going out the door, and I saw people being pushed back in the door,” Josh said.
A little while later, the group found Sarah Dooley, Josh’s wife.
“Because of where we were and the circumstances and how very different it could have been– by a few minutes here or a few minutes there, a few feet. If they were to have gone outside looking for me, thinking I was there, they could have been in the crossfire. It was just so very close I very much so felt the Lord’s presence protecting us,” Sarah Dooley said.
Paulos said the 900 visitors were ordered to gather in the front of the church.
“I think they were combing the cathedral just to make sure, they didn’t know if this situation that happened in the square was a distraction for something larger,” Paulos said.
“During, I did feel very peaceful. I felt the Lord’s presence there with us. I thought ‘Well, if I’m going to go, then this is the place to go,’ Sarah said.
After three hours of confusion and waiting, the visitors were allowed to leave Notre Dame.
“I think we’re really in a time where each person has to make a decision: You’re either going to be terrorized by these people committing crimes, or you’re going to appreciate what you have, and learn to live life. And I chose the latter,” Josh explained.
He said there were hundreds of police with machine guns lining the blocks surrounding the cathedral, and Sarah said it is evident France has stepped up its security after the string of Islamic attacks.