A 44-year-old mother of three, Simone Barreto Silva, who moved from Brazil to France as a teenager, loved to dance samba and displayed devotion to Jesus Christ.
“She crossed the road, covered in blood,” said Brahim Jelloule, manager of the Unik café which is opposite the side entrance to the church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.
Jelloule said her brother, who worked in the cafe at the time, and an employee, saw Silva and brought her inside.
“To begin with, they didn’t understand anything. She was still talking, she said that there was someone inside (the church), ”Jelloule said in an interview with France Television.
Silva was one of three people killed in the knife attack. The others were Vincent Loques, the sacristan of the church, 55, who had his throat slit, and a beheaded 60-year-old woman. She has not been named.
The alleged assailant, identified by prosecutors as Brahim al-Aouissaoui, from Tunisia, was shot and wounded by police officers who arrived at the scene when the alarm went off. He is being treated in the hospital.
Silva was originally from Bahia in northeastern Brazil, but as a young woman she moved to France and studied at Nice Sophia Antipolis University, according to her Facebook profile. She trained as a chef but recently worked as a nursing assistant, French media reported.
The photo on his Facebook profile had a picture of Jesus Christ and the words, in French: “I am the one who loves you”. She also posted prayers in Portuguese.
Although she has been a longtime resident of France, she has kept her Brazilian ties. Her sister, Solange Barreto, also lives in France and participates in the organization of an annual Brazilian cultural festival in Nice.
A musician friend of the dead woman, percussionist Jorge Bezerra, told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that Silva danced samba and performed at Brasil Tropical, a Brazilian cabaret in Paris.
Solange Barreto updated her Facebook profile photo Thursday night to show a black rose and black ribbon, symbols of mourning.
In a statement, Brazil’s foreign ministry said its embassy in Paris was providing assistance to the family of the deceased woman.
“Brazil expresses its firm repudiation of any form of terrorism, whatever its motivation, and reaffirms its commitment to work to combat and eradicate this scourge,” the statement said.
“At this time, the Brazilian government expresses in particular its solidarity with Christians and people of other denominations who suffer persecution and violence because of their belief. ”
(Report by Christian Lowe in PARIS and Pedro Fonseca and Gabriel Stargardter in Rio de Janeiro; edited by Janet Lawrence)