Alek Skarlatos is about to become a household name after being one of two U.S. National Guardsmen and their friend who stopped an impending terrorist attack on a train in France.
Three Americans are being hailed as heroes for tackling and disarming a gunman they happened to see on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris Friday.
Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone remained hospitalized Saturday after being stabled, though the Pentagon said the injury was not-life threatening. Another passenger was wounded by a handgun in the attack, according to a police union official.
It remains unclear whether there was a political motive to the gunman’s actions. French authorities are questioning the 26-year-old Moroccan attacker and are expected to speak to at least one of the Americans who subdued the man. Counterterrorism police are leading the investigation, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
French Interior Minister Bernad Cazenueve, speaking in Arras where the train was diverted, said the Americans “were particularly courageous and showed great bravery in very difficult circumstances,” and that “without their sangfroid we could have been confronted with a terrible drama.” He also called for caution before jumping to conclusions.
French authorities are on heightened alert after Islamic extremist attacks in January left 20 dead, including three gunmen. In June, a lone attacker claiming allegiance to ISIS beheaded his employer and set off an explosion at an American-owned factory in France, raising concerns about other attacks throughout the country.
Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, was traveling with childhood friends of Stone, of Carmichael, California, and Alek Skarlatos, a National Guardsmen from Roseburg, Oregon, when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass. Sadler told The Associated Press that they saw a train employee sprint down the aisle followed by a gunman with an automatic rifle.
“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a boxcutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.”
Another passenger helped the servicemen tie the gunman up, and Stone then quickly turned to help another passenger who had been wounded in the throat, stopping his bleeding until paramedics came, Sadler said.
God bless them.
UPDATE: Here’s another video.