Here are some Minnesota connections to the terrorist attacks in Paris. We are updating constantly so please check back at startribune.com during the day:
• Twin Cities meteorologist Paul Douglas tweeted Friday night that he was aboard a plane headed for Paris when news of the attacks started spreading. Saturday he reported: “We only spent a few hours at the airport in Paris on the way to Israel. Our Delta flight to Paris was delayed as they added additional fuel, in case the Captain had to divert to another (safer) airport in Europe. I’ve never experienced that before.
“The flight to Paris was surreal, tense and emotional with some in tears, everyone checking their phones and tablets for updates on the attacks. There were a lot of French nationals on the MSP to CDG leg. The Captain announced that Delta had “people on the ground” in Paris, reporting back to corporate security in Atlanta, to gauge safety levels for flights into and out of Charles De Gaulle Airport and if they determined the risk (to aircraft) was significant they would divert.
“We had to go through an additional layer of screening at the airport in Paris — not sure if that had anything to do with the attacks.
“Those are my observations; we didn’t have time to go into the city center but it’s safe and accurate to say the mood on the plane and at the airport was somber, a sense of grim determination.”
• The Interstate 35 Bridge in downtown Minneapolis was lighted with the French flag colors of blue, white and red Saturday after nightfall.
• All eight University of Minnesota students in Paris were safe and accounted for Saturday morning, just hours after more than 120 people were killed in multiple terrorist attacks throughout the city. School officials said three students were studying abroad in Paris for the fall semester, while five others were visiting the city this week.
Students were advised to follow their host government’s advice to shelter in place. University officials said Saturday they do not plan to withdraw students based in Paris or visiting France at this time, but will continue to closely monitor the situation.
• Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport only had one direct flight bound for Paris on Friday evening, which departed as scheduled nearly three hours after the attacks began. Delta Air Lines Flight 171 left MSP just before 6 p.m. and reportedly landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) a little later than scheduled on Saturday morning.
• Kurts Strelnieks, an Eden Prairie resident, reached out to the Star Tribune on Saturday: “My wife and I have been vacationing in Paris this week. It has been a roller coaster week for us in the city starting with beauty and bliss and ending with ugliness and horror.
“After enjoying a jazz concert Thursday night, we found ourselves in the same Marais neighborhood Friday night. Imagine the area as Uptown and the North Loop and much more. We have taken advantage of outdoor dining all week, a pleasure in November for a Minnesotan and enjoyed yet another wonderful meal. During dinner, we noted streets being blocked off by police, but thought it might have been for a motorcade or perhaps an auto accident.
“As it turns out, the incidents were about a mile away from our restaurant. Soon after, we must have taken the subway back to our Latin Quarter area just before the subway was shut down. Sirens were heard all night as we followed the news.
“Of course there is a stark contrast of the mood of the city changing from its especially joyful spirit to an understandably subdued mood today. That said, we noted a defiance today that I admire, a determination to live life as it should be lived. Americans and the French have a rich history together and we clearly will need a strong bond to combat this enemy for the long term.
“We look forward to going home tomorrow.”
• A Twin Cities nonprofit executive in Paris at the time of the attacks was able to make it back to her hotel safely Friday night. Melissa Scaia, executive director of two Minnesota-based domestic violence nonprofits, told the Star Tribune in an e-mail that she is grateful to be out of harm’s way.
“We experienced the mayhem but were unaware at the time what was happening and why,” Scaia wrote. “We were in an Uber car leaving the Louvre museum trying to get to our hotel. We were then in our rental car and saw the police and major traffic delays. We later learned when we returned to the Marriott the reason for the delays and traffic was the attacks.
As of midnight Paris time, Scaia said cellphones were not working and Internet service was intermittent. She is expected to return home in a few days.
• At Orchestra Hall on Friday night, the Minnesota Orchestra dedicated its concert to the people of France, to a round of supportive applause from the packed hall. Guest conductor Andrew Litton noted that the preselected program of works by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Vaughan Williams didn’t thematically address their pain — some of it even happy — but that music of any kind serves as a welcome solace in time of need.
• Alliance Française of the Twin Cities, a cultural center in Minneapolis, said it would lead a memorial march Sunday from its building at 113 1st St. N, across the Hennepin Avenue bridge to the Basilica of St. Mary, where a 3 p.m. service will follow.
• The Mall of America has stepped up security in light of the attacks, a spokesman said. “Some [precautions] may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be,” he said.
Deputy Bloomington Police Chief Mike Hartley told the Associated Press that police already had an increased presence at the nation’s busiest shopping center.
Hartley says that’s typical, especially around the holidays. He said there has been no specific threat directed at the mall.
The Bloomington megamall attracts some 40 million visitors each year.
In February, a video purportedly made by Al-Qaida-linked rebels urged Muslims to attack shopping malls. The video specifically mentioned the Mall of America. Authorities said at the time there was “no credible” evidence suggesting a U.S. mall attack was in the works.
• Bill L’Herault, an Edina resident, reported Saturday from Paris: “I have been in Paris for 5 weeks. Last night I returned from a nearby dinner at about 10 in the 5th arr. and everything seemed very normal for the usual lively Friday night. I had music on and had no idea the attacks had happened or there was any bedlam outside. Then a received a text from my sister-in-law asking about “the violence” in Paris. This was quickly followed by a Facebook posting asking me the same. I turned on TV and slowly learned what was happening like anyone else. I posted on Facebook, “before you ask, I am fine” and everything is quiet in my neighborhood. I was soon overwhelmed with a flood of concern and relief. This has continued until today and has been a very warming experience.
“I feel so sad about what happened because I have been treated so well in Paris this year and absorbed the beauty, culture and grace of this city and its people. I never had any bursts of sirens, Internet interruptions or any other chaos last night. I stayed up nearly all night watching CNN and local coverage which I found more focused and helpful. At about 1:30, it got very quiet for a Friday night as I think people must have gone home earlier than usual.
“This morning, I left to pick up a friend at CDG who was arriving from MSP on Delta 0171. It was over an hour late and she had a long wait in customs. I had an interrupted RER train ride to CDG for reasons I do not know and had to transfer to an RER-provided shuttle bus.
“It’s very quiet for a Saturday here with schools, libraries and all the big attractions are closed but most every thing else is open.”
• Norma Pezzuto, an Edina resident and passenger on the Twin Cities-to-Paris Delta Flight 171, reported Saturday: “I was on the flight yesterday from MSP. I almost got off the plane. However, I was advised that Delta had security at the Paris airport and they were monitoring the ongoing situation and the Paris airport was still open and secure. They added more fuel, then finally took off a bit late. Upon arrival in Paris, customs was very backed up, long lines. My friend was already here and he met me upon arrival. We didn’t have any issues taking public transportation into the city. But it is very quiet, all of the major tourist areas are closed. A lot less people on the streets. … I can honestly say, I feel Delta handled the situation very well. ”
• A Minnesota civil rights and advocacy group for Muslims has denounced the Paris attacks. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Saturday condemning the attacks that killed at least 127 people.
In a statement, the Minnesota chapter’s executive director, Jaylani Hussein, called the attacks on civilians — in Paris, Beirut or any other city — “unacceptable and inexcusable.”
Hussein says the perpetrators of what he called “these heinous attacks” must be “apprehended and brought to justice.”
He says his organization’s thoughts and prayers are “with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France.”
• If you are checking on loved ones in Paris, call the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs at 888-407-4747. Calls to the French Embassy are being redirected to this line.
If you have news of family or friends who were caught up in the terror attacks or are experiencing the aftermath and recovery efforts in Paris, send the Star Tribune city desk an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Detailed contact information would be appreciated as we pursue Minnesota connections to these events.