Three long-time American buddies – Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos – traveling through Europe on August 21, are now being hailed as international heroes when they worked in tandem to take down a known gun-wielding radical who started shooting up a high-speed train that was travelling from Paris to Amsterdam, according to an August 23 report from CNN. Two other male passengers, one from France and one from England, also helped subdue the gunman.
Skarlatos, a National Guardsman, is being hailed as the team-leader in the takedown according to Sadler and Stone. The tree friends huddled down when the gunman opened fire. Sadler was quoted by CNN as saying “My friend Alek Skarlatos yells, ‘Get him!'” Stone, a trained paramedic, was the first to attack the gunman with his two buds quickly following suit.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Stone rushed the bare-chested gunman and grabbed him by the neck. The gunman had a box-cutter and slashed Stone seriously several times. Skarlatos jumped in and managed to get one of the guns away from the radical. Stone never let go of the assailant even while being cut. One of those box cutter slashes nearly severed one of Stone’s thumbs.
Sadler, the third American on the train, was joined by British businessman Chris Norman who also jumped on the terrorist, beat him to the floor and hogtied him. The Times quoted Sadler as saying “It all happened so fast. We heard the word go, and everyone just got up.”
Norman later said that “Either you sit down and you die, or you get up and you die. It was really nothing more then that,” according to France-24. Norman also said that he believes the gunman had an AK-47.
An unidentified French national is also being credited with averting what could have been a shooting massacre aboard that high-speed train. CNN quoted French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as saying that the Frenchman “tried courageously to overpower him before the suspect fired several shots.”
President Barack Obama telephoned the three Americans yesterday and congratulated and thanked them for their heroic actions. French President Francois Hollande also paid tribute to the three American heroes and has scheduled a meeting with them for Monday.
The gunman is reported to be well-known in at least three countries and has been identified as 26-year-old Ayoub El-Khazzani, according to USA Today. Czeneuve shared with the media that France was informed about El-Khazzani by Spanish officials in 2014 “because of his connections to the radical Islamist movement.” For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.