Survivors recalled how the assailants fired targeted, methodical bursts from their AK-47s.
Laurent Léger, formerly an investigative reporter for Charlie Hebdo, described a “kaleidoscope of images, sounds, memories, sensations” that overwhelmed him.
“In a flash, I saw the bodies fall,” Mr. Léger said. “Listening to the others, plunging back into this nightmare, this carnage, it’s very trying.”
The testimonies of Ms. Rey and Ms. Vinson were particularly harrowing.
Ms. Rey’s voice trembled when she recalled being grabbed by the brothers as she headed outside to smoke a cigarette. She remembered how prepared they were — they knew her face and her nickname, Coco — and their excitement as she typed in the entrance code.
“After the shooting, there was silence,” said Ms. Rey. “A deathly silence.”
For Ms. Vinson, who has a tattoo on her arm featuring the names of the 12 people killed, words tumbled out in long, vivid spurts, interrupted only when she stopped to steel herself.
She explained how she hid behind a low wall in the newsroom, heard shots and felt the impact of a body — Mustapha Ourrad, a proofreader — falling against it on the other side, and how Chérif Kouachi leaned toward her, telling her they didn’t kill women. (In fact, one of the people they had just shot dead was Elsa Cayat, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who wrote a column for Charlie Hebdo.)
Peering at the gunman’s eyes through his black mask, she remembered how soft his gaze seemed.