Gympie man Tim Williamson in lockdown in Paris
FORMER St Patrick's College student Tim Williamson used a special Facebook facility to reassure his parents, as gunfire filtered through the locked restaurant walls.
It was the best news David and Alicia Gibson could possibly have received as they learnt about the terror attacks that struck Paris on Friday night (Paris time).
"He's just finished his medical degree at Melbourne University and he and his girlfriend were having a holiday before graduation on December 5," Mr Gibson said yesterday. "They didn't have global roaming on their phone plan, but Facebook had a special facility for people to let their families know they were all right.
"They were in a venue that got locked down.
"They heard shots fired outside and went home when police told them it was safe for them to leave.
"Then they sent us another message when they got back to their apartment and just took it easy until the next day.
"Saturday morning when we got up we heard about it on news and Twitter feeds.
"They were very much in the heart of it, so it was good to get the message.
"We were in Paris in July and we were telling them 'You must do this and you must do that and this is exciting'.
"People like Paris, it's a cultural centre of Europe.
"I don't like to say it, but there was a suicide bomber in Beirut and he killed 45 people, and no one seems to have noticed.
"I can only think people already regarded Beirut as being dangerous and were not as surprised."
French-born Gympie woman Caroline Vielle described the attacks as "shocking."
"This occurred in the suburb next to where I used to live and at places I used to go," she said.
"It's a place where people go out.
"My cousin's daughter lives there.
"He says they are very shocked and angry at what's happened.
"I think I'm very happy I'm here."