A humble wave from a hero: Wounded US airman who took down AK47-wielding terrorist on French train, then treated others before tending to his own stab wounds emerges from hospital with a smile
- Air Force airman Spencer Stone ran at 26-year-old Moroccan when he opened fire on high speed service to Paris
- He was stabbed in the neck, above his brow, and almost severed his thumb – but still gave First Aid to others
- Was on the train with friend Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, 22, who was travelling through Europe
- With the help of Anthony Sadler, from California, and British national Chris Norman, they stopped the attack
- Three people, including Stone, wounded in the attack and French police have hailed the bravery of the bystanders
- French media report the man denies being a terrorist and instead claims he wanted to carry out an armed robbery
- Also claims he wanted to ransom off passengers and he found the weapons in a bag ‘by chance in a Brussels Park’
The US airman who was stabbed in the neck and hand while tackling a Kalashnikov-wielding terrorist to the ground in a packed Paris-bound train has emerged from hospital with a humble wave.
He became a hero while traveling on a high speed train from Amsterdam to France with his two friends – Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, 22, who was on leave after a tour of Afghanistan, and Anthony Sadler of California – when they ambushed a terrorist and averted a tragedy.
Having already been suspicious of Ayoub el-Qahzzani’s behavior, Stone leaped into action when he heard him load up a Kalashnikov in the toilet. When he came out to open fire, Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler charged and tackled him to the ground.
Stone was stabbed in the hand during the scuffle with a Klashnikov and Stanley knife on Friday – almost severing his thumb – but was hailed a hero as he disarmed the suspect then administered first aid to others before caring for himself.
On Saturday, he emerged from the central hospital in Lille, France, wearing bandages and a sling – and offered the cameras a humble wave before slipping into a black sedan with diplomatic license plates.
It was not immediately clear where he was headed.
Stone, who is in the Air Force, was also commended for helping an injured train passenger, a French-American, bleeding from a gunshot wound. That passenger, a teacher who resides outside Paris, was being treated in another hospital in Lille.
French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that he spoke with President Barack Obama to personally thank him for the ‘exemplary conduct of American citizens who stopped an extremely serious attack.’
Earlier on Saturday, Stone’s friend Sadler described the sequence of events.
‘We heard a gunshot, and we heard glass breaking behind us, and saw a train employee sprint past us down the aisle,’ Sadler said from France. They then saw a gunman entering the train car with an automatic rifle.
‘As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,’ Sadler continued. ‘Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.’
As they beat the man – named in reports as Ayoub el-Qahzzani – he pleaded with them to return his AK-47, Sadler explained.
‘He was just telling us to give back his gun. ‘Give me back my gun! Give me back my gun!’ But we just carried on beating him up and immobilised him and that was it.’
The men, along with fellow passenger British IT consultant Chris Norman, have since been commended for their bravery by President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande has tweeted that he will meet the men tomorrow to thank them.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3207243/True-American-hero-airman-tackled-beat-disarmed-Kalashnikov-wielding-terrorist-French-train-treated-tending-stab-wounds-emerges-hospital-humble-wave.html
Revealed: The mystery man who tackled AK-47 assault rifle from train gunman
Traveller who intervened to disarm gunman youb El-Khazzani is an American academic named Mark Moogalian
Mr Moogalian, who lives in Paris but is originally from Midlothian, Virginia, US, is the previously unnamed man who came to the aid of “Damien A”, 28, a French banker who confronted El-Khazzani.
The academic acted instinctively to protect his wife Isabella Risacher, who was also aboard the Thalys train.
He tackled the Kalashnikov assault rifle off El-Khazzani, who then drew a sidearm and shot him in the neck before taking back the rifle, his sister has revealed.
Three other US citizens including two military personnel, and Chris Norman, a British businessman then stepped in to disarm and overpower the assailant.
Defense Officials Praise Troops’ Actions in Train Attack
WASHINGTON, August 22, 2015 — Defense.gov
In a statement released today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter praised three Americans for their actions yesterday on a train outside of Brussels, Belgium.
“On behalf of all the men and women of the Department of Defense, I want to thank the brave individuals, including two members of the U.S. military, who stepped forward to prevent an even greater tragedy from taking place aboard that train,” Carter said.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, assigned to the 65th Air Base Group, Lajes Air Base, Azores, Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos and a civilian friend were traveling together via train on personal leave. The men took immediate action to subdue an armed gunman before he could engage his automatic weapon on the train.
“My thoughts and prayers today are with those injured in the attack, including Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, whose selfless actions saved lives. I wish him a speedy recovery,” the defense secretary said.
“These men are heroes,” said U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove.
“Actions like this clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave,” he said. “We are extremely proud of their efforts and now are praying for our injured airman to have a speedy recovery.”
Stone, who suffered non-life threatening injuries in the attack, is currently being treated in a French medical facility.
“(Stone and Skarlatos) are two reasons why — on duty and off — ours is finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said.
“I’m still waiting to wake up,” he said. “It’s like a movie scene or something.”
“I was thinking about survival,” said Spencer Stone, who serves in the Air Force. “It was to survive and for everybody else on the train to make it.”
“He seemed like he was ready to fight until the end,” Stone added of Ayoub El Khazzani, 26, the alleged attacker. “So were we.”
“His intentions were very clear,” said Alek Skarlatos, a National Guardsman. “The guy had a lot of ammo. In the beginning it was gut instinct, survival.”
Khazzani allegedly opened fire on board a train heading from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday before being subdued by Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone.
Three passengers were injured in the incident, sustaining knife or gunshot wounds, none of them life-threatening.
Stone had his neck and thumb caught when he and his two close friends rushed Khazzani and prevented further bloodshed.
“Other than my finger, I didn’t really feel any of my other injuries,” he said on Sunday. “I trust my friends very much. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be dead.”
“He clearly had no firearms training whatsoever,” Skarlatos said of Khazzani. “I have no idea where he was aiming.”
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Saturday that the accused assailant wielded a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol and a box cutter during the attack.
Sadler argued on Sunday that the international community must remain both vigilant and brave in the face of similar extremism.
“Please do something,” he said. “Don’t just stand there and watch.”