Chicago reacts to deadly Paris attacks

Chicago showed their support for Paris during a vigil outside the French Consulate Saturday night. Hundreds crowded a courtyard on Michigan Avenue, holding candles and French flags, leaving behind notes and flowers.

Many have close ties to Paris, and across the city and suburbs, Chicagoans with connections are waiting anxiously for loved ones to return home safely.

A group of students from the Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences arrived in Paris just hours before the first attack Friday night.  The group is there as part of an exchange program to meet with pen pals and take in the sights. Now they're planning to cut short their ten day trip and come home Monday.

Karen Smith's daughter Melanie is one of the Ag students. They've only been able to talk a few times since the attacks. Melanie says their hostel is located just about ten minutes from where the attacks occurred.

“It was scary. I don't think they knew the full extent of what was going on,” said Karen Smith.

On Saturday, the group was allowed to leave the hostel, but only in small groups, with a chaperone and only to tour the city block around them.

“It's kind of weird. The only place we are able to get food from is a few bakeries within a block radius of our hostel, so I had a loaf of bread for dinner tonight,” said Melanie. “We had to take the subway to get here from the airport. I am kind of worried nervous about going through the subway again.”

Ed Goetz is a Chicago native and now works at the University of Minnesota, but collecting research in Paris on a Fulbright scholarship.

“I think there's a fairly good chance that most of the family will be going back to the states soon,” he said, referring to his wife and kids.

He said their apartment is only about a mile from the concert hall where more than 85 people died Friday night.

Chicago attorney Kimball Anderson was able to get out of Paris Saturday morning
after having to switch airlines and planes in London where he was greeted by police.

“When we got off the plane -- before we even got off the terminal -- we were met by military people with automatic weapons. They were asking the passengers, if they had seen anything if they could identify anyone,” said Anderson.

He said the worst part of being so close to the attacks was not knowing when it would stop.


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