A Farmingdale lawyer visiting Paris for the weekend said he is shaken but safe after terror attacks there claimed the lives of more than 120 people.
Dave Mejias, who served on the Nassau Legislature from 2003 to 2009, said he flew into the city Friday for a U2 concert.
He was having dinner with a group of U2 fans from New York at a restaurant in the Champs-Elysées neighborhood when his phone began to buzz with messages asking about his whereabouts and safety.
"I found out pretty quickly what happened," Mejias, 45, said from his hotel Saturday. "The manager of the restaurant was pretty scared."
Mejias said the restaurant closed down and he and his companions quickly made their way to their hotels nearby. Mejias had to get the staff to let him into his locked down hotel, and once inside he shut himself in his room, watched the news and texted his family.
"There were the sounds of sirens everywhere, it was very surreal and very scary," he said. "No one really knew what was happening."
He was several miles away from the restaurants, the stadium and the concert hall where the attacks took place, but said the fear and uncertainty about further strikes was palpable throughout the city.
The U.S. State Department has issued announcements on Twitter through its @TravelGov account asking Americans in Paris to stay in place, contact their friends and family and check in online with the State Department. Those trying to find U.S. citizens who were in Paris should call 1-888-407-4747 or email ParisEmergencyUSC@state.gov.
There are no clear numbers yet for how many Americans were there at the time, but California State University, Long Beach, officials confirmed on Twitter that one of their students, 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, was among the more than 120 people killed. Gonzalez was a junior design student studying abroad in Paris for the semester.
On Long Island, Stony Brook University had three students studying abroad in Paris and all have been located and confirmed safe, said spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow. Hofstra University did not have any students in the country, spokeswoman Karla Schuster said.
A group of about 30 Nassau County police officers were staying in Paris during the attacks, Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said. The officers were part of an annual trip around France with the Holy Name Society and all have been confirmed safe.
The officers left Paris early Saturday morning for another city.
In the aftermath of the attacks, much of the city has closed down and security is tight, with police and military officers everywhere, Mejias said. He walked to Notre Dame Cathedral on Saturday morning, but found its doors shut and locked with a "closed" sign.
The U2 shows scheduled for Saturday and Sunday night were canceled, and Mejias said there's nothing to do but wait until he can fly home on Tuesday -- earlier flights are fully booked.
"I do feel safe today, but last night not knowing if something else was going to happen, I was on high alert," he said. "It was very very, very, scary."