PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local man who has visited Paris more than two-dozen times said he is devastated by the recent attacks on the city he loves dearly.
From explosions at a sports stadium to bloodshed on the streets, the world watched in solidarity Friday as the scope of the attacks became apparent. Officials confirmed 129 people were killed in the attacks, which ranged from gunfire to suicide bombings.
Bob Burke told Eyewitness News Saturday he will travel back to Paris as soon as possible – so he can stand in solidarity on the streets he’s come to know and love.
Burke and his wife own Pot Au Feu restaurant in Providence. He says he’s traveled to Paris 25 times – most recently this summer to celebrate his 60th birthday with his family.
“We were there,” Burke said. “You’re a little haunted by the fact that, wow, except for an accident of timing I would have been there in the midst of this with my family. And of course that’s what the terrorists want. They want that fear, they want that feeling.”
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Burke said he stayed between two key monuments in the city during his last trip – one dedicated to the revolution and another to the French Republic – the same area where the gruesome attacks unfolded.
“It’s not an accident that the restaurants in that area, the theater – the sites in that area is, for the terrorists, a symbol of the resistance to their efforts,” he said.
Burke noted that Paris has a history of being targeted, saying that everywhere you turn there are reminders.
“They are a city that knows they are a target and they are ready to respond with force,” he said, in reference to the city’s heavily armed police presence.
According to Burke, the attacks came just at the start of a global celebration of the French harvest of the new wine. Burke said he is planning to hold memorial services this week at his restaurant.
He said the city and the French people will not crumble under the weight of the attacks.
“This will not stop Paris. Paris has been through much worse than this and they’re going to fight back and stand up,” Burke added.