So my first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard one guy, an American, say, ‘Go get him, ‘ and I heard another American say, ‘Don’t you do that, buddy.’ …
[Original story, published at 7:42 a.m. ET].
A police officer uses a video camera at a crime scene inside a Thalys train stopped at a train station in Arras, northern France, Friday, August 21, 2015. One of the Americans was among the injured. He said the struggle started when a Frenchman on his way to the toilet tried to stop the man entering a carriage.
No one was killed in the attack, and Norman said he thought the man’s Kalashnikov rifle may have malfunctioned.
The gunman, identified as a 25-year-old Moroccan, was overpowered by three Americans – including two off-duty servicemen – as well as Norman. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation in progress and asked not to be identified by name.
The minister did not confirm Spanish press reports that the suspect had travelled to Syria.
“Bottom line is, being a family of faith, we firmly believe that God kept him safe amidst a risky situation and used him and his friends to potentially save many lives”.
“They were looking for someone, people were scared”, he said.
President Obama was informed of the incident and “expressed his profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including U.S. service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker”, a White House official said.
“What happened and what we did, it just feels unreal”, Skarlatos said in the Skype interview.
Spencer Stone, who is reportedly in the US Air Force, was the first to reach the gunman who slashed him in the neck and hand with a box-cutter. “I begin to tie him up with help from Chris (Norman), another passenger”.
“Spencer ran a good 10 meters to get to the guy, and we didn’t know that his gun wasn’t working or anything like that”.
Spencer had injuries in the head and neck, and nearly had his thumb cut off, according to Peter Skarlatos.
Alek Skarlatos, 22, and Spencer Stone, 23, both originally from Carmichael – are being hailed as heroes.
Stone was to undergo surgery but he is doing “relatively well”, Arras Mayor Frederic Leturque told the AP Saturday.
The suspect was armed with an automatic rifle and a knife, said Christophe Piednoel, spokesman for national railway operator SNCF.
“Spencer just ran anyway and if anybody would have gotten shot it would have been Spencer for sure and we are very lucky that nobody got killed, especially Spencer”.
“Then two American passengers intervened and managed to overpower the shooter, immobilized him on the ground and put aside his weaponry”.
The Pentagon has said Stone’s injuries are not life-threatening.
The French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who appeared in the 1986 cult film “Betty Blue” staring Beatrice Dalle, was lightly injured in the incident, a witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office has also opened an investigation because the suspect had boarded the train in Brussels, said spokesman Eric Van der Sypt.
Francois Hollande, the French president, said: “I offer my solidarity to those wounded in the attack on the Paris-Amsterdam train”.
The man is now being interrogated as part of a detention that can last up to 96 hours, he said.
“It is important to be careful about his identity which is not yet established with certainty”, Cazeneuve said.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the suspect may be a 26-year-old Moroccan flagged by Spanish authorities previous year for links to Islamic radical movements. “Intelligence agencies just aren’t big enough to do that for everyone”, he said.
Anglade told Paris Match magazine that when the shooting started, the train staff went into a private cabin and locked it, leaving the passengers alone.
Breedlove was far from the only person praising their bravery.