American bravery prevented a bloodbath abroad thanks to the valor of these three men. On Friday, a French Thalys train with 554 passengers was enroute from Amsterdam to Paris train when three Americans heard the clicking sound of a gun being loaded inside a bathroom. The Americans were quite familiar with the sound of guns because Spencer Stone is a member of the U.S. Air Force, and his friend Alek Skarlatos is a member of the U.S. National Guard. Shortly after, a shirtless man emerged from a bathroom with allegedly an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, a handgun on him as well as a box cutter or a knife.
“Get him!” the 22-year-old Skarlatos screamed. Without hesitation or fright for his life, Stone jumped out of his seat, ran approximately 32-feet and tackled the gunman. Skarlatos, from Oregon, and his friend fellow American Anthony Sadler, a college student from California, quickly followed suit and helped subdue the terrorist. Another passenger, British consultant Chris Norman, who initially dug down in his seat when he saw the weapon, sprung into action and helped quash the murderous plot. The four men dogpiled on the would-be jihadist and then beat him up, Alek took the rifle away and hit the suspect in the head with the muzzle. Spencer put the man in a chokehold and kept it until he went unconscious. Before they were able to get the man under control, he did get a shot off and the bullet hit and injured a French-American passenger.
The terrorist did slash the throat of a passenger, but Spencer was quick to apply pressure to the wound on his neck so he didn’t bleed out. Spencer helped this gentleman despite having his own horrific injuries from the battle, he was cut in the head and neck and almost had his thumb cut off. Stone has been hospitalized as well as two others, including French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade.
The attack initially happened on Belgian soil, and the train was rerouted to the French town of Arras, about 115 miles north of Paris where the gunman was placed under arrest. The 26-year-old man was a Moroccan national, and was being monitored by European counterterrorism agencies because of his radical jihadist views. An official for French intelligence said it appeared the gunman was sympathetic to ISIS. He had been living in Spain until 2014, then moving to Belgium.
One French official said that the gunman had plenty of ammunition, and the Americans prevented a massacre. You’re goddamn right they did. “We’re very lucky that nobody got killed, especially Spencer,” Skarlatos told Reuters. “If anyone would have gotten shot it would have been Spencer for sure.”
Skarlatos recently returned from Afghanistan and was vacationing in Europe. “I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe, and we stopped a terrorist,” said Sadler. “Kinda crazy.”
“Thanks to the calm of two American passengers, we have avoided a tragedy,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. “[The suspect’s] details were flagged up to the French authorities… in February 2014, due to his involvement in radical Islamist movements”
President Barack Obama praised the good samaritans in a White House statement, “Echoing the statements of French authorities, the president expressed his profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including U.S. service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker…. it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the “extraordinary courage of the passengers who intervened and helped disarm the gunman, including the British consultant Chris Norman.”
The three American men and Mr. Norman were awarded medals for bravery by authorities in Arras.
— Frédéric Leturque (@FLeturque) August 21, 2015
You may now commence your “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chant.