It was a heroic act of self- sacrifice… and it cost a brave hostage his life.
Held captive inside the kosher supermarket, a Jewish hostage took what he knew would be his only chance to overpower Islamist killer Amedy Coulibaly.
In an instant, he managed to grab an assault rifle that the terrorist had left on the counter at the deli in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, after storming in and killing three people.
But the bid for freedom turned to tragedy when the man discovered that the gun had been discarded because it was jammed.
And when Coulibaly caught sight of him, he murdered him in cold blood with another weapon from his lethal arsenal.
The Jewish man’s fate was revealed yesterday by another hostage in the Hyper Cacher atrocity on Friday afternoon.
A woman runs from the Paris kosher grocery store in tears as she is led away by French police after officers stormed the building yesterday
A man clutches a small boy close as they flee the Hyper Cacher store where they were held hostage yesterday (left) as a woman runs from the building in tears (right)
Last night there were unconfirmed reports which named the hero as 22-year-old Yohan Cohen.
The witness, who gave his name as Mickael B, told how Coulibaly, 32, rounded up customers and staff and took away mobile phones before calmly explaining he was part of the Islamic State terror group.
Mickael said: ‘Suddenly one of the customers tried to grab one of his guns which he’d left on the counter. It wasn’t working.
‘The terrorist had put it there because it had blocked after the first shots. He turned and shot at the customer who died on the spot.’
It is thought that the hero was the fourth person to die in the supermarket, with the first three gunned down as Coulibaly stormed in at 2pm, declaring: ‘You know who I am.’
One eyewitness said Coulibaly was smiling as he walked in, wearing a bulletproof vest over his T-shirt and jeans, and carrying a huge arsenal of deadly weapons.
Many of the others present in the shop, buying kosher food and drink before the Sabbath began, tried to hide at first.
Mickael’s plight was all the more desperate because he had his three-year-old son with him.
The witness said: ‘I was heading for the check-out with the goods in my hand when I heard a bang – it was very loud. I thought it was a firecracker at first.
Police officers protect themselves with riot shields as a fiery blast explodes at the entrance to the supermarket in Porte de Vincennes
One of the injured hostages is carried from the supermarket on a stretcher as medics quickly attempt to treat them for their injuries
‘But turning, I saw a black man armed with two Kalashnikov rifles and I knew what was happening.
‘I grabbed my son by the collar and fled to the back of the store. There, with other customers, we ran down a spiral staircase into the basement. We all piled into one of two cold rooms. But our door wouldn’t close. We were terrified.
‘Five minutes later a store employee was sent down by the killer. She said he said we were to go back up, otherwise there’d be carnage. I refused to go up. By now my son, understanding nothing, was panicking. Then minutes later the employee comes back down with the same message.
‘This time I decided to follow her up the spiral staircase.’
At the top of the stairs Mickael saw a man lying in a pool of blood, then encountered the ‘strangely calm’ terrorist and witnessed the execution of a fellow customer.
Some of the customers kept themselves hidden in the basement cold stores, spending three hours in below-freezing temperatures, yet still contacting loved ones outside.
One shopper, called Noemi, managed to call a friend and told him: ‘I am very scared. I hear some noise upstairs. Make sure the police get here fast.’
Other customers were able to flee the store amid the confusion before Coulibaly brought the heavy metal shutters down on the front door.
Devoted - the victim who worked in supermarket to save up for his wedding
Posing happily with his girlfriend, this is a brave Hyper Cacher employee murdered during the Paris supermarket hostage siege.
Yohan Cohen, 22, was named as one of the four Jewish victims killed by Amedy Coulibaly during the attack, possibly after grabbing a discarded gun. One of Mr Cohen’s friends revealed on Twitter that he had been working at Hyper Cacher to pay for his future wedding to girlfriend Sharon Seb.
Last night, as condolences poured in from around the world, Ms Seb posted on Facebook the simple message: ‘Je suis Yohan.’ And later, in an emotional tribute to her boyfriend, she wrote: ‘What am I going to do without you? How am I going to live without you? Why you?
‘My life is ruined without you. I will never achieve anything now. I need you in my life. We had so many plans.
Yohan Cohen, 22, had been working at Hyper Cacher for a year to pay for his future wedding to girlfriend Sharon Seb (right)
‘I will never forget all our time together. You will remain the man of my life for eternity. I will remain faithful to you until my dying breath. I love you with an indescribable passion.’
Earlier she had changed her Facebook profile picture, posting an image showing her hugging her boyfriend.
A friend wrote in the comment field underneath: ‘An eternal love.’
Mr Cohen’s aunt, Aurelie Pluvinage, uploaded a hand-drawn sketch of her nephew to her own Facebook page.
Mr Cohen, who was from Sarcelles in the northern suburbs of Paris, had only worked at the supermarket for a year.
Francois Pupponi, the deputy mayor of Sarcelles, said: ‘His family are devastated. He was a very nice boy.’
Rest in peace my 'little angel': Friend's tribute to student
Tributes to Yoav Hattab, one of the supermarket victims, poured in yesterday.
Avishalay Lauh, brother of Tunisian Mr Hattab, 21 – who was spending a year studying in the French capital – wrote on Facebook: ‘I am in shock. My darling brother was cowardly murdered. He did nothing wrong!’
Friend Marie Assous added: ‘May God avenge your blood and all the innocent heinously murdered in cold blood by barbarians, just because you are Jewish. Rest in peace little angel.’
Meanwhile, more details emerged about one of the other victims. Philippe Braham, who is believed to be in his 40s, was a teacher who lived with his wife Valerie and their three children in the town of L’Hay-les-Roses, about eight miles south of Paris. A neighbour described him as ‘a good man’. The final victim, Francois-Michel Saada, is believed to have been in his 60s.
Both Mr Hattab (left) and Philippe Braham (right) were murdered by Islamic terrorist Amedy Coulibaly at the kosher bakery in Paris