The night of November 13 was supposed to be a fun night for Ludo Boumbas. He and his friends had assembled at La Belle Equipe, a refined and sober cafe at Rue de Charonne in Paris, to celebrate a friend’s 35th birthday. With some time still to go before Halima Saadi, another friend who worked as a waitress in a nearby cafe, joined them, Ludo and his friends thought it best to take their seats outside on La Belle Equipe’s candle-lit alfresco tables.
There were other people who were enjoying their dinner, still some others making soft conversations, when the birthday woman Houda Saadi arrived, appearing gorgeous. Though Houda’s sister had still not been able to get off her shift, Ludo and his friends decided to get on with the celebrations.
As the friends chatted about their day and Ludo Boumbas ordered them meals, Halima finally arrived and wished her sister all the luck in the world on her special day. The night was pretty, the food was good, and the friends were all there. This was just how the 11 friends had imagined spending Houda’s birthday.
Just a few minutes after half past nine, however, the world collapsed around them in a matter of minutes. It was that quick, it was that unexpected. Two gunmen, dressed in bullet-proof vests and sporting black boots, arrived out of nowhere and began shooting at the crowd outside. The friends ducked for cover, some made a dash for the cafe, but the gunmen were unrelenting in their actions. Before anyone could understand what was happening, a pile of lifeless bodies stacked up as the screams of the victims pierced the cold Paris night.
Ludo Boumbas, who had just somehow escaped a bullet, saw one of the gunmen aiming for a woman beside him. She was not a friend who had come to celebrate Houda’s birthday — just another Parisian who was visiting La Belle Equipe to unwind after a grueling weekday schedule. That did not stop Ludo, however, from throwing himself in front of the woman. The bullets instead struck him.
It is still not known how many bullets Ludo had to endure piercing his body, but he died within a matter of minutes. The medics, who were quickly on the scene, were overwhelmed with the number of casualties. Forced to leave the most seriously injured, who had no hope of rescue, in order to help those who had a chance, they began tending to the woman who Ludo had attempted to rescue. Though she was struck by a bullet even after Ludo’s brave attempts, she still had a chance. She was taken to a hospital nearby for further treatment.
The woman, who was later identified as Miss Clement, cannot forget what Ludo Boumbas did for her. Her friend had the following words to say after she visited the young woman in the hospital where she is currently recuperating.
“She was on morphine and was in shock. She would barely speak. She felt guilty because Ludovic died for her. She just kept repeating his name again and again.”
A friend of Ludo Boumbas, who did not wish to be named, talked to the Daily Mail about him.
“Ludo threw himself forward to protect a girl and took the bullet. She was also shot, but she survived and is in hospital. He loved travelling the world and above all he loved people. He was just one of life’s good, good people. He didn’t stand a chance.”
Now Ludo is being hailed as a hero on social media, and his friends all agree, lauding his “selfless bravery” in the face of catastrophe.
In all, 19 people died on that fateful night outside La Belle Equipe. The birthday woman, Houda, and her sister, Halima, were among those killed. Their brothers, Khaled and Bashir, tried to save them as they died on the floor in their arms.
Adrián Švec, a Slovakian photographer, who was having dinner in a cafe next to La Belle Equipe, took some poignant photos of the victims minutes after the shooting. You can view the photos here, published by the Guardian.
Mr Ranouil, who works at Le Petit Baïona restaurant a few doors along from La Belle Equipe, said he wished nobody had to die alone. He held hands of the dying, telling them everything will turn out well.
“I thought that nobody should die by themselves so I went to hold their hands and talk to them.”
In that regard, Ludo Boumbas will surely be remembered as a hero. Not only was he there for his friends at the last minute, he was able to give someone back the gift of life, and we’ll always be grateful to him for that.
[Photo via Facebook/Brazza News]