Local residents describe Paris mood as tense

Local residents vacationing in France during the deadly terrorist attacks described the mood in Paris on Sunday as tense as they left or walked around the City of Lights.

Stephen McMillan, a University of Dayton graduate who lives in Cincinnati, was in Paris visiting a friend when the attacks occurred on Friday. They met up and left the Châtelet area about an hour before the explosions.

A lot of people were out on Saturday, but the museums were closed and there was not a lot to do, he added.

“I’m glad to be back,” he said on Sunday from the Cincinnati airport. “I’m glad to see my parents. I’m definitely blessed.”

The militant group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the assault, which involved six coordinated shootings and explosions at a rock concert venue, several cafes and a soccer stadium at which a match between France and Germany was being played.

More than 120 people were killed, and over 345 were injured, in the series of attacks. Eight of the attackers died. Seven of them were killed in suicide explosions and one was killed by security forces in a music venue.

An international manhunt had begun for another suspect, officials said Sunday as the investigation expanded well outside France.

The French National Police identified the suspect as Abdeslam Salah, a 26-year-old man born in the Belgian capital, Brussels. He is one of three brothers believed to have played a role, according to French news reports, though it was not clear what that might have been.

Belgian officials said two of what authorities believe were at least seven assailants had lived in and around Brussels, and information from the Balkans suggested that one of the attackers might have entered Europe as a Syrian asylum seeker.

Another attacker was identified as a man who had been living in France, according to officials in that country.

Larry Benson, a Dayton resident, and his wife left home for a 10-day Normandy cruise on Nov. 4. The couple was in a cafe in Paris about a mile away from one of the locations where the explosions occurred, Benson said during an interview with Cincinnati news partner WCPO-TV. The couple mostly heard police and emergency sirens, but no explosions.

“When you’re a mile away, it hits home that it can happen to anybody at any time,” Benson said. “… It’s an incredible city. It will never be the same …”

On Sunday, the Bensons did not experience any problems while flying back to the Dayton area. They didn’t see any road blocks or additional security in Paris, Benson added.

Not all tourist rushed to leave the City of Love. Jerry Newport, a Springfield resident who is in Paris with his wife Su-Ann and 10 others who went to the city after finishing a river cruise, reported people were moving around in Paris but the mood was tense.

“Police and other security forces are out in force today,” he said in an email message. “It’s a little like awaiting a possible aftershock after an earthquake. Some of the heart-wrenching survival stories are starting to come out.”

Newport said the Springfield group seemed safe on Sunday as they visited the Montmarte District.

Reporter Natalie Jovonovich and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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