From the father who hid his toddler inside a supermarket refrigerator to the employee who texted tactical information to police from beneath a sink, authorities praised the quick instincts of survivors in the sieges that gripped France on Friday, reports The Guardian.
At the printing business north-east of Paris one employee took refuge “under a sink in the canteen” upstairs after the brothers believed to have carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre stormed in, Paris prosecutor François Molins told reporters.
The employee – a 26-year-old graphic designer, according to a source close to the investigation – had been “terrified”, Molin said.
But overcoming his fear as he remained undetected, he began communicating with police outside via text message, sending them “tactical elements such as his location inside the premises” as well as what the attackers were saying, a source said.
The brothers – identified as Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, on the run since they are believed to have slaughtered 12 people at the weekly magazine’s offices in Paris on Wednesday – had been cornered there after a firefight with police which Molins said left Said with a minor neck wound. They still had arms including Molotov cocktails and a loaded rocket launcher.
The brothers had taken the store manager hostage but later released him after he helped Said with his wound as the second man hid upstairs, said Molins.
Another source said the hidden employee was also able to communicate with a family member via text.
Some 40 kilometres away, shortly before 1pm, a father called Ilan and his three-year-old son were at a kosher supermarket in Vincennes when Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be an ally of the Kouachi brothers, burst into the store and pulled out a Kalashnikov.
The father and son quickly hid in the supermarket’s refrigeration unit, two relatives told AFP. At least three other people were with them, according to sources close to the investigation.
Ilan, in his thirties, removed his jacket and wrapped his son in it to keep the toddler warm. Hidden in the cold, they and the other hostages remained in the refrigerator for nearly five hours.