After terror attacks, Fort Myers native says he’s meant to be in Brussels

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BRUSSELS – As police sirens blared and helicopters hovered outside his home, Nolan Tarantino felt he was meant to be here.

The Fort Myers native lives about three blocks from the Maelbeek Metro Station, one of the locations hit by terror attacks in the European city on Tuesday.

At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured after two explosions went off at Brussels Airport, including one by a suicide bomber, and a third at the metro station, located near the European Union headquarters. A third bomb was deactivated at the airport, according to the Associated Press.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which comes less than a week after Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in November’s terror attacks in Paris, was arrested in Brussels.

Tarantino, 32, graduated from Bishop Verlot High School and has lived in the Belgian capital since 2008. He does missionary work across the continent for Convoy of Hope Europe, a nonprofit organization.

He found out about the attacks after receiving a phone call from the BBC. He then went on Twitter, where he saw video of one of the explosions.

“Within seconds, we had thousands of police at our doorstep,” said Tarantino, who lives down the street from the law enforcement agency charged with protecting EU headquarters. “It’s constant right now, just hearing sirens, the helicopters. There’s a manhunt going on right now, so its quite intense.”

After learning about the attacks, Tarantino said he felt fear at first, but was then overcome by a sense that he was in the right place.

“There’s such a peace once you process it through that lens and see it through that perspective with going…there’s such an opportunity,” he said. “There’s so many hurting people here and you have an opportunity to share hope with people that are just so confused by all the events and they don’t have that. That’s what we hold on to, our faith quite a bit, through moments like this when there seems like…if you just read the news, it’s really depressing. You’re thinking about ‘man, I live in a city that the whole world is talking about that’s a hotbed for terrorists and you really…why am I here?'”

After the Paris attacks, Tarantino spent most of his time returning messages from friends and family back home.

On Tuesday, he and his wife were the first to make contact, sending out an email stating they were okay.

“Of course, mom and dad are constantly calling all the time to see how you’re doing, but simply put, they just trust God to know that we’re gong to be safe here, my kids are safe.”

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