Passengers thwart terrorist attack on French train

From left, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Chris Norman overpowered the armed man. Picture: AP
From left, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Chris Norman overpowered the armed man. Picture: AP
Have your say

A BRITON and three Americans have been hailed as heroes after they overpowered a heavily armed gunman on a French train.

The passengers helped thwart what authorities believe to have been a terror attack by a man suspected of having radical Islamist beliefs.

Americans Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, members of the US Air Force and the National Guard respectively, subdued the gunman after they heard him load a weapon in a toilet cubicle.

A French passenger had tried to enter the toilet when he encountered the gunman and tried to overpower him. The gun was then fired and the two Americans launched their attack.

They were then joined by their friend Anthony Sadler and 62-year-old Briton Chris Norman.

The incident took place on a high-speed train, which was travelling between Paris and Amsterdam on Friday night.

Norman, who lives in France, told reporters he was sitting in the same carriage as the Americans when they heard a shot.

“I saw a guy carrying an AK-47, or at least I assumed it was some kind of machine gun.

“I ducked down in my seat, Alek looked at what was happening, Spencer looked at what was happening, and Alek said to Spencer, ‘Go get him’. Spencer jumped up and tackled him and started getting the terrorist under control.

“Alek jumped up and helped Spencer, followed immediately by Anthony, and I came in at the end of it all and I guess just helped get the guy under control. We ended up by tying him up, then during the process the guy pulled out a cutter and starting cutting Spencer.

“He cut Spencer behind the neck, he nearly cut his thumb off too. Spencer held him and we eventually got him under control. He went unconscious, I think.”

Stone’s friends praised his quick reactions and bravery in being the first one to approach the gunman.

Skarlatos said: “Spencer ran a good ten metres to get to the guy and we didn’t know that his gun wasn’t working or anything like that. Spencer just ran anyway and if anybody would have gotten shot it would have been Spencer for sure.”

The suspect is a 26-year-old Moroccan, and anti-terror police are leading the investigation. French authorities said three people were injured, two of them seriously – one with a gunshot wound, the other a knife wound.

Stone was reported to be “in good spirits” and “doing great” as he recovers in hospital.

Norman and the two uninjured Americans were awarded a bravery medal from the local mayor.

A spokesman for No 10 Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister praised the extraordinary courage of the passengers who intervened and helped disarm the gunman, including the British consultant Chris Norman.” The White House also praised their actions, saying that they had helped prevent “a far worse tragedy”.

The 554 passengers included French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, the star of Betty Blue and Nikita, who was wounded breaking glass in an attempt to to sound the alarm.