The three Americans who helped subdue a terrorist on a train on Friday have told their incredible story.
Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos held a press conference at the American ambassador’s residence in Paris on Sunday.
The three friends were travelling from Amsterdam to Paris when Moroccan born Ayoub El Khazzani came out of the toilet with an AK-47 assault rifle. Along with British IT consultant Chris Norman, they tackled him and tied him up before he managed to kill anyone.
Speaking from the ambassador’s residence, US serviceman Stone revealed how he woke up to see a man holding the assault rifle, and that it ‘looked like it was jammed and it wasn’t working’.
He went on to say:
I just wanted to survive and for my friends and everyone else on the train to survive.
He was ready to fight to the end, so were we.
I tackled him and Alek came down and put him in a choke hold and kept hitting him.
He had a box cutter and he started to go at me with that.
He let go and we started punching him all three of us and Alek hit him in the head with a pistol.
At that time he was cocking the AK-47. So it was either do something or die…In times of crisis…do something. Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything.
I’m still waiting to wake up. It’s like a movie scene or something.
Stone was the first to grapple the attacker, and he lost his thumb when El Khazzani chopped it off with a box cutter. He had it reattached during his hospital stay in Lille.
Amabasador Jane Hartley described the men as ‘true heroes’. She said:
You often hear the word hero but in this case I think that word has been more appropriate.
I know these young men sitting with me won’t like it as during the brief period we have known each other they are so humble, but they are truly heroes.
When most of us would run away Spencer, Alek and Anthony ran into the line of fire, saying ‘let’s go’. And those words changed the day for many.
They demonstrated the very best of America with their selfless actions in tackling the assailant.
The three men are currently guests of the ambassador in Paris. They received the Legion d’Honneur from President Hollande, France’s highest civilian honour.
El Khazzani denies he is a terrorist, and says he just planned to rob the passengers.