Hawke's Bay couple at restaurant on Champs Elysees, as police shot nearby

An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs Elysees Avenue after two policemen were killed and another wounded ...
REUTERS

An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs Elysees Avenue after two policemen were killed and another wounded in a shooting incident.

Hawke's Bay man James Heuser was sitting down to dinner at a restaurant on the Champs Elysees in Paris when he heard a muffled burst of automatic gunfire from the attack that left a police officer dead.

Two other officers and a bystander were injured in the terrorist attack on the famous Paris boulevard.

A gunman has been killed and another was thought to be on the run.

The scene outside the restaurant where Sara and James Heuser were having dinner when a gunman opened fire on police ...
SARA HEUSER

The scene outside the restaurant where Sara and James Heuser were having dinner when a gunman opened fire on police officers nearby.

At the time of the attack, Heuser was sitting in a conservatory at the restaurant fronting onto the street, maybe 100 metres from the scene of the shooting.

"I just heard the burst of noise from obviously the gun going off, and people just running," Heuser said. "The next thing there was a whole lot of cops turning up. There were armed soldiers as well."

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He grabbed his and wife Sara's bags and headed toward the back of the restaurant. 

At the time of the attack Sara Heuser had been in a bathroom at the back of the restaurant washing her hands and didn't hear the gunshots but did hear the prolonged screaming that followed.

When she came back into the main area of the restaurant she saw waiters rushing around but couldn't find her husband and didn't know if he was still inside the building or had left.

"People outside the restaurant were running and screaming ... sort of a stampede up the road of screaming people," Sara Heuser said.

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She asked a waiter who had looked out the door what was happening. He was unsure but suggested there may have been a bomb.

"I asked if he had seen my husband. He just told me to get back inside," she said.

Sara went back to her original seat and was surprised to see a man at a nearby table calmly continuing to eat his dinner. As other people in the restaurant were crying, the diner suggested the noise was probably just fireworks.

Then James reappeared from the back of the restaurant and joined her at the table. "Then there was kind of a second wave of more running and screaming," Sara said.

After that waiters moved everyone to the back of the third floor of the restaurant. "Everyone was at the back of the building furthest away from the glass," Sara said.

While the group waited, people were scouring the internet to try to clarify what had happened.

Eventually, restaurant staff had said it was safe to leave and had taken the group downstairs, where a policewoman directed people down a side street away from the Champs Elysees.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the New Zealand embassy in Paris had no requests for consular assistance and there was no indication any New Zealanders were caught up in the incident.

SafeTravel has 576 New Zealanders registered as being in France.

 - Stuff

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