The sister of an Oceanside man was among the shoppers in Strasbourg, France when a gunman opened fire Tuesday at the Christmas Market killing at least two people.
French authorities are still looking for the suspect, who’s been identified as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt.
Julie Seavello, who is an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Seattle, heard the gunfire and even tried to assist one of the victims of the shooting.
“It was 7:50 p.m., and I was standing at the stall that I'd been looking at and all of a sudden heard the gunfire. And it was about six or seven shots,” Seavello said.
Seavello said the crowds remained calm at first and she thought the shots were fireworks. But soon afterward, police stormed the market and ordered people to leave the area.
“The fright of the people who had been on that street and seeing the gunman as they ran away, I saw their fright, but I didn't feel it myself,” Seavello said.
She attempted to leave the area and happened to pass by the back of a restaurant where the shooter apparently opened fire.
“I looked in, I saw people crouched on the ground and I saw a man on the ground with blood around him and CPR in progress,” she said.
Seavello said the man suffered wounds to the chest and head and was deceased.
“I pray for this fella's family and for the other people involved, and for those who had their lovely evenings marred by a very, very distressing event,” she said.
Authorities say Chekatt has a long criminal history and had been flagged for extremist beliefs and was under watch.
“I really hope that they do not blame this on Muslims or immigrants. They're making a lot of talk about him maybe calling out ‘Allahu Akbar.’ I really hope that doesn't get used as a target for blame. I would hate to see that,” Seavello said.
In a remarkable side story, Julie Seavello was part of another mass shooting. In 2015, she was working at a hospital in Roseburg, Oregon when a student killed nine people at a local community college.