Credit: AP/Jacques Brinon

Alliance Française de Chicago staff watched the Paris attacks unfold Friday with grave concern for colleagues and loved ones in France’s capital city. At least 60 people were reported dead and dozens others were wounded in a series of coordinated attacks on some of the city’s most visible cultural institutions Friday night. 

Geoffrey Ruiz, director of the learning center at Alliance, says executive director Jack McCord is in Paris but safe: 

Obviously everyone here is very shocked here as you can imagine. It came out of the blue as it always does. 

My grandma is in Paris at this time and all my friends are close. My mom was born in that neighborhood. I lived in the neighborhood 11th District. I lived there from 18 until 30 until I moved to Chicago.

I know those places very well. I can only imagine how it looks right now. I saw how it looks right now, the dead bodies in the street. There are no words to describe it. Everyone was telling me the sounds, like sirens, panic, or the lack of sounds in the areas where the shootings were very striking to them.

At the cultural center all of our thoughts are going to the people who are currently being held hostage. We want to make sure that they can be safe.