Sigolène Vinson – How She Survived the Massacre

Charlie Hebdo Journalist Sigolène Vinson Survived the Massacre

Sigolène Vinson, the 40-year-old legal affairs commentator at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, described how she survived the massacre.

“I heard gunfire. I didn’t look back, I didn’t want to stare death in the face and I was sure I was going to die,” she said.

She hid with other staff in a colleague’s office. They could hear, but not see the killing spree.

“They didn’t fire in bursts, they shot one bullet after another. Slowly. Nobody shouted. Everyone must have been taken completely by surprise,” Vinson said.

Sigolène Vinson heard footsteps approaching, then more gunfire. One of the masked terrorists, who was later identified as Saïd Kouachi, looked around an office wall and took aim at her.

‘I looked at him,’ she told Le Monde. ‘He had these big, black eyes, and a very soft gaze. I felt a moment of trouble in him, like he was looking for my name.

‘My brain was working fine. I thought quickly. I understood that he had not seen Jean-Luc, who was in his office.” Vinson said.

“He said ‘don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You’re a woman, we don’t kill women. But think about what you do, what you do is bad. I’m sparing you and because I’ve spared you, you will read the Qur’an’.

“I wondered why he would say that. I thought it was rather cruel of him to me asking not to be afraid. He had just kill everyone and was pointing at me with his gun. I found it unfair. Unfair to say that what we did was wrong,when good was on our side. It was he who was mistaken. He had no right to say that.”

“I gave him a nod. To keep a link, contact, a connection. Perhaps subconsciously, I tried to soften. I did not want to lose his eyes as Jean-Luc is under the table, he has not seen, and I understand that even if he does not kill women, he kills men.”

Vinson said Saïd Kouachi turned toward the newsroom room where his brother Kouachi Sharif, had murdered a woman, columnist Elsa Cayat, Charlie’s psychoanalyst, and shouted: “We don’t kill women,” three times.

“At this point, I did not know that Elsa had been murdered..” 

The terrorists killed one woman during the massacre. Later a police woman was murdered in a related incident, while the Kouachi brothers were on the run.