French police ID driver in Nice truck attack; 2 Americans among 84 killed

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French police identify driver in Bastille Day truck attack as Mohamed Bouhlel, of Nice; 2 Americans among 84 killed. (WLS)

French leaders extended the country's 8-month-old state of emergency Friday and vowed to deploy thousands of police reservists on the streets after a Tunisian man drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people and wounding 202 others.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department and other sources confirmed that Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, of Lakeway, Texas, were among the dead.

"We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father," the Copeland family said in a statement. "They are so loved."

Brodie and Sean Copeland.

ABC News reports they were on a European vacation with Sean's wife, Kim, and his two children from a previous marriage, 29-year-old Maegan, and Austin, who turned 22 on July 6. Kim will turn 40 on Monday. The family spokesperson said the trip was partially to celebrate Austin and Kim's birthdays. They visited Pamplona and Barcelona in Spain before traveling to Nice, the spokesperson said.

The Copeland family released a statement on Friday after learning that their two of loved ones were killed in the attack:

"Last night we watched the horrific event in Nice, France, where our beloved family members Sean, Kim, Austin, Maegan and Brodie were vacationing. Our worst fears were realized as we soon thereafter learned that we had lost Sean and Brodie in the attack. Our lives, along with so many others' in France, have been changed forever. The overwhelming support we have received from friends and strangers has been comforting, and we deeply appreciate your condolences and prayers. Our hearts go out to all of those in France and elsewhere who have loved ones lost or injured in this event, and we pray for each of you. We will not be offering any further public comment at this time, and we hope that you understand and will respect our privacy."

Two of Sean's brothers will fly to Nice to bring Kim, Maegan and Austin home, said Troy Copeland, Sean's brother.

Alyssa Weaver, Sean Copeland's niece, posted this message to Twitter overnight:

Haley Copeland, another niece, tweeted that the family was vacationing in France to celebrate a birthday. Their European trip began with the running of the bulls in Spain.

Brodie is being remembered for his talents on the youth baseball field. The Hill Country Baseball team also called for prayers for the Copeland family after this tragic turn of events.

"This afternoon our very own Brodie Copeland, as well as his father Sean Copeland, were killed during the terrorist attack in Nice, France," the statement reads. "Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family."

"You are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. Rest in peace, Brodie and Sean, you will be remembered by many."


People in Chicago mourned the attack Friday and fought back against terrorism in their own way - by continuing to go about their day as normal, without living in fear.

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People in Chicago mourned the attack Friday and fought back against terrorism by continuing to go about their day as normal, without living in fear.

The Consul General of France in Chicago Vincent Floreani stood strong after seeing the attack in Nice.

"They are trying to make us feel some sort of fear," said Floreani. "But we are not intimidated and we continue to fight terrorist groups throughout the world."

The Consul General set up a condolences page giving people a chance to offer their support.

At the Alliance Francaise language school in Chicago's Gold Coast, classes are going on as scheduled in the wake of the Nice attack.

"It's going to be business as usual. We have camp, classes. We need to go on!" said Philippe Schaller, the school's manager.

Parents who brought their kids to the language camp, like Hans Detlefsen, told ABC7 Eyewitness News they are still grappling with how to explain the attack to their children.

"We may watch some news together or read articles," Detlefsen said.

At La Fournette, a nearby bakery and cafe, owner Luc Zimmerman said he went to university in Nice and has many friends and family still living there.

Despite his shock and sadness, Zimmerman opened his shop on time.

"Even being so far away, the best way to go about it is to go about your day as usual," Zimmerman said.

He said the only way to recover from this tragedy, just like the Paris attacks and Charlie Hebdo before it, is to keep living life normally. He said not to allow terrorists to win.

People in Chicago with ties to France and French culture were having a cookout Thursday for Bastille Day on Montrose Beach when word of the attack came down.

The French consul general addressed the crowd, offering his condolences in both French and English.

Some people said they tried to contact their families in Nice. One woman, who has relatives that live about 45 minutes away from the coastal city, said she didn't think her family was celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. But she wasn't positive.
The president of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Juan-Luis Goujon, also attended the barbecue.

"It is happening everywhere. No one is immune to the hate. Violence is something we are living with," Goujon said.

At O'Hare International Airport Thursday night, a passenger arriving on a flight from Nice said his friend was in the city when it happened.

Police said there is no threat in Chicago, but they are still on high alert after the police ambush in Dallas. Police are also monitoring the French consulate in the Loop.


Thursday night's massacre of pedestrians leaving a fireworks display along the southern city's famed boulevard ended only after police killed the armed attacker in a hail of bullets.

Video shot by witnesses shows the truck coming under police gunfire as it drives through an intersection along the palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, which had been turned into a pedestrian walkway for the independence day celebrations. Crowds flee in panic, taking shelter in shops, hotels or leaping off the elevated pavement onto the beach below. Police finally surround the stationary truck and fatally shoot its driver.

A spokesman for Nice's city hall told ABC News there were 30,000 people on the promenade at the time of the attack.

Police identified the attacker as Mohamed Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Nice resident and delivery driver, and said he had drawn a gun on them. The truck's front windshield was riddled with bullets, Bouhlel's body slumped inside.

Chief prosecutor Francois Molins said police risked their own lives trying to stop the truck as it traveled 2 kilometers (1 miles) down the promenade.

Molins said Bouhlel's estranged wife was arrested in Nice on Friday, while Bouhlel narrowly avoided being put behind bars months before the attack. He said Bouhlel had received a six-month prison sentence in March for a conviction for assault with a weapon, but other legal officials said his sentence was suspended because it was his first conviction. The weapon used was a plank of wood against another driver after a traffic accident.

Witnesses said Bouhlel first crashed into crowds near the five-star Hotel Negresco, then rolled slowly down an otherwise empty road chased by police on foot and, possibly, one on a motorcycle.

German tourist Richard Gutjahr filmed the moment when the unidentified motorcyclist sped alongside the truck, hopping a curb to try to grab hold of the driver's door as two police officers on foot nearby fired a single shot each at the driver. The motorcyclist fell to the ground, coming within inches of being struck by truck tires that partly crushed the motorcycle, but got up and briefly climbed aboard the side of the accelerating truck before jumping off again.

The truck surged through an intersection into screaming crowds, where Gutjahr could hear the final confrontation involving 15 to 20 seconds of gunfire.

"Police were everywhere in town for the day. They clearly saw he was a danger, because that truck should never have been on the road," Gutjahr said.

Damien Allemand, a journalist for the Nice-Matin newspaper, said the fireworks display had finished and the crowd was dispersing when they heard noises and cries.

"A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people," he wrote. "I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget."

On video, one person could be heard yelling, "Help my mother, please!" A pink girl's bicycle lay overturned by the side of the road.

No group has claimed responsibility for the carnage, but French officials called it an undeniable act of terror. The assault on revelers rocked a nation still dealing with the aftermath of two attacks in Paris last year that killed 147 people and were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

"France was struck on the day of its national holiday, July 14, the symbol of liberty," French President Francois Hollande said as he denounced "this monstrosity."

Flags were lowered to half-staff in Nice, Paris, Brussels and many capitals across Europe. Hollande announced a three-month extension to the state of emergency imposed after the deadly Nov. 13 attacks on Paris and the government declared three days of national mourning to begin Saturday.

"Terrorism is a threat that weighs heavily upon France and will continue to weigh for a long time," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. "We are facing a war that terrorism has brought to us. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and panic. And France is a great country, and a great democracy, that will not allow itself to be destabilized."

But Hollande faced public anger after traveling to Nice, 690 kilometers (430 miles) south of Paris, to offer his condolences. He visited wounded people in two hospitals, including one where officials had treated about 50 children and teenagers for a wide range of injuries.

Molins said 52 of the 202 wounded in the attack remained in critical condition Friday night, 25 of them on life support. Among the dead, officials said, were 10 children as well as three Germans, two Americans, Moroccans and Armenians, and one person each from Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine. Two Scots were listed as missing.

Hollande and Christian Estrosi, the president of Nice's regional government of Provence Alpes d'Azur, ran a gantlet of booing crowds as their convoy passed through Nice. Many of the cat-callers blamed government authorities for failing to enforce sufficient security measures following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

"Mr. Estrosi is from the right. Mr. Hollande from the left. I say it and I say it loud: These two are killers," said Christelle Hespel, a Nice resident who accused both of overseeing negligent security.

Hollande's government, whose popularity has plumbed record lows, has recently been buffeted by allegations that France's intelligence services have failed to get a handle on the country's jihadist threat. France has known for years that it is a top Islamic State target, and it is the biggest source for European recruits for IS, with more than 1,000 fighting in Syria or Iraq.

Estrosi said some of the city's 1,200 security cameras had pinpointed the moment the attacker boarded the truck "in the hills of Nice" and were able to retrace his path to the promenade. He said he suspected Bouhlel did not act alone.

"Attacks aren't prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices," Estrosi said.

Broadcast footage showed a scene of horror along Nice's promenade, with broken bodies splayed on the asphalt, some piled near one another, others bleeding onto the roadway or twisted into unnatural shapes.

Estrosi told BFM TV that "the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him."

Some people tried to escape into the water when they saw the careening truck, according to Eric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents Nice.

Stephane Erbs was heading back to his car with his wife, Rachel, and their two children when he saw the white truck bearing down on their position. He told The Associated Press that his first instinct was to throw his 7-year-old son, Celion, out of harm's way, while his wife pushed their daughter, 12-year-old Noemi, to safety.

"I threw him in the direction of the wall" that runs along the promenade, next to the beach, said Erbs, who broke seven ribs as he tried to get out of the way. His children were unharmed but by Friday afternoon his wife was still missing.

A Facebook site called "SOS Nice" has begun to attract posts from people hoping to be reunited with missing family members. The site was quickly filling up with photos, appeals and - in some cases - good news.

A nine-year-old and his family "have finally been found!" one recent post crowed atop a photo of a child in front of a birthday cake.

But it's not clear that other appeals have been answered.

"No news from Claire who was at the fireworks," one post said. "She's 18 years old. If you find her or if you have information, please contact us."

WLS-TV contributed to this report.
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