The three American heroes who saved a French train full of from nearly certain death at the hands of an attacker armed with an AK-47 were covered in global glory Sunday as they spoke out for the first time since thwarting the assault. “For myself and for my friends and for everyone else on the train“.
Three Americans who helped subdue an armed gunman on a high-speed train en route from the Netherlands to France, have recounted a bit of their experiences during a news conference held at the U.S. embassy in Paris. The men tackled and subdued the gunman, who was taken into custody in France.
The assailant “seemed like he was ready to fight to the end”, he said. “So were we”.
Spanish law enforcement told their French counterparts in March 2014 that Ayoub El-Khazzani had a “relationship with radical Islam”, the Spanish El Pais newspaper reported”.
According to Khazzani, who does not speak French and whose comments were translated by an interpreter, he boarded the train to rob people, and had intended to break a window and jump out to escape. The suspect told police he isn’t a terrorist, and had planned to commit a robbery or ransom passengers on the train from Amsterdam to Paris, BFM TV said.
A source close to the French probe, meanwhile, said he “lived in Belgium, got on the train in Belgium with weapons likely acquired in Belgium”.
Stone said the gunman entered their train vehicle after they heard a gunshot and saw a train employee run quickly down the aisle. “Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said “let’s go” and ran down, tackled him”.
A 28-year-old French passenger had spotted the gunman as he exited a toilet cubicle and was the first to try to disarm him, but the suspect managed to slip away and fire several shots.
Their other friend, Spencer Stone, then put the man in a chokehold, preventing him from firing his automatic weapon.
President Barack Obama called, commending and congratulating them for their courage and quick action, his spokesman said. The third member of Skarlatos’ group, college student Anthony Sadler, punched the Moroccan national in the head as Stone choked him unconscious. “Our training kicked in after the struggle”.
Married grandfather-of-two Mr Norman said he helped overpower the gunman because he thought he was “probably going to die anyway”.
Chris Norman, a British consultant, said he was sitting in the same carriage as the Americans when they heard a shot. The attacker, Sadler explained, was “skinny” and “basically came in and we saw him cocking the AK 47 [the Kalashnikov]”. “I didn’t realize, or fully comprehend, what was going on”. The three young men didn’t hesitate before springing into action. “It all happened really fast”, Sadler told BFMTV. “He would have been able to operate through all of those magazines”.
“It feels unreal, like a dream”, Stone said.
“We often use the word hero and in this case I know that word has never been more appropriate”, Ms Hartley said. They are heroes. Let’s pray for a speedy recovery for the injured Marine.