Three Americans Called Heroes After Overseas Train Attack

The train, which was in Belgium, was rerouted to the nearest station in Arras, northern France, where the suspect was arrested.


A passenger aboard the Thalys express train passing through Belgium spotted the gunman coming out of the bathroom with a weapon and began to wrestle with him.

Stone was to undergo surgery but he is doing “relatively well”, Arras Mayor Frederic Leturque said on Saturday.

In this photo provided by Christina Cathleen Coons, a man is detained on a train platform after an incident on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, Friday, August 21, 2015, in Arras, northern France.

Spain’s interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Manuel Valls, the prime minister, says France is engaged in nothing less than a “war of civilisation” against radical Islam.

The train attacker was armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and an automatic pistol, both with accompanying ammunition clips.

Norman, a grandfather who lives in France said he helped the three Americans overpower the gunman who opened fire on the train because he thought he was “probably going to die anyway”. The man tried to subdue the attacker, but was thwarted by gunshots, Cazeneuve said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Cazeneuve, speaking to reporters in Paris on Saturday, said the suspect may be a 26-year-old Moroccan flagged by Spanish authorities previous year for links to Islamic radical movements, but the identity has not been 100 percent confirmed.

Along with two others – A French national and a Briton – they charged at him, tackled him and subdued him, officials said.

“Without their cool-headed actions we could have been faced with a bad incident”, he said.

Stone was helped by US National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos 22, and Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler, 23, along with British IT expert Chris Norman in tackling El-Khazzani.

“They trusted each other where one wouldn’t back down if the other was getting his butt kicked”, Skarlatos said. Then Skarlatos took the man’s rifle and started beating him with it. During the fracas, the suspect managed to injure Stone in the hand and neck with the box cutter, French authorities said. “And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious”, he said.

Stone remained hospitalized Saturday with non-life-threatening injuries.

“He had a Kalashnikov, he had a magazine full…” ‘Give me back my gun! “So, let’s go”, he said.

‘I would rather die being active, trying to get him down than simply sit in the corner and be shot, ‘ he said.

Stone was treated for cuts and left the hospital yesterday with his left arm bandaged and in a sling. He said Belgian authorities are assisting the investigation, which is led by France.

“We owe them greatly for their composure and braveness”, he said, adding that they prevented a bigger tragedy.

Throughout the terrifying ordeal, Sadler said, “The gunman never said a word”. But with the weapons he carried, “he was there to do business”, Skarlatos said in an interview shown on French television.

Among the 554 people on board was French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, the star of Betty Blue and Nikita, who was hit by breaking glass as the alarm was sounded.

El-Khazzani lived in Spain until March 2014 in the southern city of Algeciras, where authorities had picked him up for drug trafficking and noted that he attended a mosque with ties to Islamist militancy. “Yes, we saw ourselves dying because we were prisoners in this train and it was impossible to escape the nightmare”.

The train was rerouted to Arras, 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Paris, where the suspect was taken into custody. A heavily guarded cortege was seen arriving Saturday night at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris, apparently escorting the three. The three friends had been traveling together in Europe.

The elder Sadler, a 57-year-old pastor at Sacramento’s Shiloh Baptist Church, said: “We’re very, very thankful to God that he was not hurt or killed”.


French President Francois Hollande saluted the Americans’ bravery and planned to host a meeting with them Monday that will include top government ministers.

Police in protective clothing collect clues inside the train Pascal Rossignol