HUFFINGTON POST
01/13/2015 06:59 pm ET Updated Jan 13, 2015

Hidden Under A Sink, Lilian Lepère Had A Very Close Call With The Charlie Hebdo Gunmen

After two days on the run, the brothers who attacked satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo turned up at Lilian Lepère's workplace in northern France.

Lepère hid from Said and Cherif Kouachi under a sink for more than eight hours on Friday, while they held his manager Michel Catalano hostage. Both men were eventually freed in a police raid on the printing house in Dammartin en-Goele, which killed both brothers.

In an interview with French television station France 2 on Monday evening, Lepère recounted just how close a call he had.

The 26-year-old graphic designer curled up inside a tiny cabinet underneath the sink, just moments before the heavily armed Kouachis entered. His boss, Catalano, stalled the brothers while Lepère found a hiding space.

“He slowed them down and gave me the precious seconds I needed to hide," Lepère told France 2.

While Lepère was tucked under the sink, the attackers held Catalano hostage in the room next door. Catalano told Agence France-Presse that he offered the gunmen coffee and even offered to treat one brother's neck wound, all the while hoping they would not find Lepère.

Meanwhile, Lepère felt very precarious in the hiding place. “If I made even the smallest movement, either the doors would open on one side, or I would hit the wall on the other side," he told France 2.

In a terrifying moment, one of the brothers approached his hiding place and started opening nearby cabinets. Then, the killer took a drink from the tap just above where Lepère was hiding.

“I could hear the water running just next to my head, I could see his shadow through the crack between the doors," Lepère recounted. "The sink leaks, so I started to feel water running across my back.

"It was surreal. I was thinking ‘this is like the movies, this only happens in movies,” he added.

But he was not discovered. Later, Lepère managed to use his phone to text anti-terrorism forces amassing outside, passing on vital information about the attackers.

“I had tears in my eyes. My morale picked up … knowing I was in contact with people outside,” he said.

In a poignant part of the France 2 interview, Lepère was overcome with emotion when Catalano, his voice shaking, told the station that Lepère's capture was "what I feared most."

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