A tourist has told of the terrifying moment five masked attackers armed with axes and guns stormed Paris’ exclusive Ritz hotel during a £4million jewellery heist.
The young woman told Mirror Online that the gunmen opened fire when they stormed five-star ‘palace’ – one of the most luxurious hotels in the world – which is popular with A-list celebrities and the super-rich.
She was having a drink in the hotel’s famous Hemingway bar when panicked bartenders suddenly started shouting at guests to “get down”on the floor for their safety.
One of the suspects was wearing a ski mask and carrying an axe as a bartender locked the door and rushed guests into the kitchen where they took refuge from the attack.
The terrified guests then heard gunshots and screaming behind the locked door as the raid unfolded, says the woman, who was left shaken.
Five suspects smashed display cases at a high-end jewellery store inside the hotel and filled bags with their loot. Three were arrested as they tried to flee and two others were on the run after they reportedly fled on mopeds.
The terrifying armed robbery happened at about 6.30pm local time at the hotel overlooking the Place Vendôme in the heart of the French capital.
The American tourist described an eerie sense of calm in the kitchen as people hid inside, with one woman so terrified that she became physically ill.
The tourist told Mirror Online: “My parents and I were sitting at the Hemingway bar at the Ritz for a drink and we were about to leave when we heard shouting from the bartenders to get down.
“One man wearing a ski mask ran from the bar door to the front of the bar right past my father. He had an axe in his hand.
“Immediately the bartender closed and locked the door and corralled everyone to the back kitchen area of the bar.
“We heard at least 10 rounds of gunfire so everyone dove behind the bar where we stayed there for about six minutes.
“We heard shouting and screaming from right outside the door. We were told there were robbers with guns and axes.
“They were after the jewellery on display at the hotel. I know the bar across from ours was shot through because I saw the door window and it was shattered.”
She added: “I also saw one of the workers at the hotel had gotten shot in the leg.
“The bartender said shots had been fired and we heard them, as well as seeing the remnants of gunshots.”
Details of the incident were still emerging, as local media said there were no reported injuries.
The tourist added: “When the robbers barged in everyone was kind of confused. The guy went right past my father and my father didn’t really think anything of it.
“I just heard screaming and the bartender telling everyone to get down.
“When we were in the kitchen everyone was quiet but still obviously very frightened. One women was puking in the kitchen.”
A man who was nearby when the robbery unfolded said shots were fired during the heist.
Police launched a major operation following the heist and there was a heavy presence of officers and security in and around the hotel in Paris’ exclusive 1st arrondissement.
A police source told Le Figaro that the robbers stole about 4.5 million euro (£4million) worth of jewellery.