The third young man, Anthony Sadler, 23, moved in to help subdue the assailant.
Mr Cazeneuve said that information led to him being placed on a list “so that we could locate him if he ever came on to French soil”.
The three Americans chiefly responsible for overpowering an armed attacker on a Thalys high-speed train recounted the harrowing takedown for reporters at a press conference held Sunday in Paris.
Asked whether his military training affected his reaction to the situation, Skarlatos said: “In the beginning it was mostly gut instinct, survival… our training kicked in after the struggle”. Hollande spoke with them by phone and “thanked them for their exceptional courage and their efficiency to prevent a tragedy”, according to a statement from his office.
Stone was released from a French hospital Saturday afternoon.
On Friday at 5:45 p.m. local time near Arras, France, a man began firing gunshots aboard a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. Belgium said it’s taking extra security measures including more police presence in stations and on trains, as well as tighter luggage checks.
But French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who was slightly injured while pulling the train alarm, criticised the train’s staff for locking themselves in the locomotive leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. “We’re absolutely proud that it happened to be someone from the Oregon Army National Guard”.
Skarlatos said they acted instinctively when they saw the man enter the train vehicle with the gun. “Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything”. So my first reaction was to sit down and hide.
The three American men were traveling together when they heard shattering glass and people running, said Peter Skarlatos, the brother of Alek Skarlatos, one of the men who tackled the suspect.
Reacting to news reports that talked about the gunman saying he simply wanted to rob some passengers, Sadler said, “It doesn’t take eight magazines to rob a train”. “Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a boxcutter and slices Spencer a few times”.
Norman told a news conference he felt “relief that nobody actually got killed”, adding there was no question that “it could have been a real carnage”. Next, Stone grabbed him again and choked him until he was unconscious as Skarlatos hit him in the head with the butt of a weapon.
The attacker, Norman said, “put up quite a bit of a fight”.
“I’m really proud that Spencer was able to save that guy’s life…. There wasn’t much thinking going on”, he said.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the gunman’s identity had not been confirmed but that if he was telling the truth to his interrogators, he was a 26-year-old of Moroccan national with connections to Islamist militants. The suspect is now being interrogated by authorities in France.
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”.