Italy, Germany and Netherlands were in their rearview mirror as three men who first met in middle school in suburban Sacramento traveled by high-speed train to their next destination, Paris.
Less than an hour away from Paris, a French passenger got up from his seat to use the toilets at the back of the carriage. “I would rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot”.
The passenger threw himself on the man. The gun went off, once, twice, several times. He had at least nine cartridges of ammunition, enough for carnage.
Three Americans and a Briton are together being hailed as heroes for tackling and disarming a gunman they encountered on a high-speed train traveling between Amsterdam and Paris Friday evening.
Skarlatos, 22, who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan, said the gunman had seemed highly determined. However, Skarlatos said the gunman appeared untrained. “I mean I’m in awe”, his father, Emanuel Skarlatos, told CNN affiliate KVAL in Roseburg. “I didn’t realize, or fully comprehend, what was going on”.
In initial interviews, the suspect, who’s been identified by fingerprints as Ayoub El-Khazzani, allegedly has told French investigators that his intent was to rob the people on the train and that he’d found his weapons in a Brussels park.
Authorities identified the gunman as a 25-year-old Moroccan national known by European security officials to have ties to Islamic terrorist organizations.
On Saturday morning, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone was having surgery on his hands, wounded by a craft knife.
Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos grew up next door to each other on a quintessential suburban street in Carmichael lined with ranch houses, shade trees and flowering shrubs. Some were proposing them for the Legion of Honor.
French President Francois Hollande is to thank the group for their courage at the Elysee Palace on Monday.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls similarly voiced his gratitude via Twitter to those who intervened to stop the attack, as well as his support for the victims.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, and said in a statement, “While the investigation into the attack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy”.
Stone was the first to challenge the gunman and grabbed him by the neck.
“He cut Spencer behind the neck, he almost cut his thumb off too”. Stone did not let go. Alek grabbed the pistol and the rifle.
The AK-47 had fallen to the gunman’s feet. Alek had taken control of the rifle and hit the suspect in the head with the muzzle, the brother said.
By then, an alarm had sounded on the train.
Alek Skarlatos was one of the American military men who rescued hundreds of passengers from a gunman in Belgium, France. “I was telling his dad maybe he should think about moving out but now I just want him to come home and never leave”. “We get a lot of these names”, he said, saying that it was important to balance monitoring with privacy concerns. The suspect fell unconscious. Quite humble heroes. Hope we get a chance to talk to them here.
Tony Sadler says his son, Anthony Sadler, called him to tell him what happened.
Friends from age 7, they played with their siblings and neighbors up and down Woodknoll Way, favoring games such as Airsoft, in which participants shoot each other with realistic-looking replica guns that fire plastic pellets, said Peter Skarlatos, Alek’s older brother. He discovered that the suspect’s guns had malfunctioned.
Mr Skarlatos went on: “He didn’t know how to fix it, which is very lucky”. As for the handgun, Skarlatos concluded, “He either dropped it accidentally or didn’t load it properly”.