Americans Who Stopped Train Attack to Speak in Paris – ABC News
Three Americans who helped take down an alleged gunman aboard a train bound for Paris will speak today from the home of the U.S. ambassador to France.
Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler will speak to the media a day before being received by French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace. The trio was vacationing when a man identified by authorities as Ayoub El Khazzani began his attack on board the high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris Friday.
Eyewitnesses say El Khazzani, 25, emerged from a bathroom wielding an AK-47 assault rifle. He was also armed with a Luger pistol, a box cutter, and at least nine extra cartridges of ammunition. The three Americans quickly leaped into action, tackling and subduing El Khazzani.
“Alek just yells, ‘Spencer go!’ and Spencer just gets up within five seconds of the guy being in the car and just rushes back there,” Sadler recalled. “He gets up, I get up and Alek gets up and all three of us just rush back there.”
Stone tackled the attacker to the ground, Sadler said. As Sadler, Skarlatos, and a fourth passenger, Chris Norman, jumped in to hold him down, the attacker pulled out a box cutter and slashed Stone, who nearly lost his thumb.
“He is really heroic,” said Sadler. “He was bleeding himself, could barely see, blood running down his own face.”
Stone, an Air Force airman, left a hospital in Lille on Saturday with his hand bandaged after being treated.
Skarlatos, a specialist with the Army National Guard, said he didn’t have time to think when they saw the alleged gunman.
“I didn’t even realize or fully comprehend what was going on,” he said.
According to The Associated Press, France placed El Khazzani on a security watch list in February 2014. Spanish authorities had informed them El Khazzani, who was born in Morocco, had joined “the radical Islamist movement” and may have been a foreign fighter in Syria.
A lawyer for El Khazzani told a French television station he had told her he was homeless and intended to rob the train so he could eat, according to The Associated Press. Lawyer Sophie David described El Khazzani as very thin and possibly malnourished.
“He thought of a hold-up to be able to feed himself, to have money,” David said to BFM-TV, then “shoot out a window and jump out to escape.”
“He is dumbfounded that his action is being characterized as terrorism,” David added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.