‘Go get him Spencer Stone’: when three American heroes met one Islamist gunman on a train
Chris Norman, 62, was on the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris when a man began shooting. Three Americans were also onboard. What happened next is a story about bona fide heroes. We hear a lot about the enemy, the nihilistic, death-loving jihadis – the shooter, 26-year-old Ayoub el-Qahzzani, has been linked to Islamist groups. But their enemy is fierce.
The Americans heard a noise. It sounded like a gun being loaded. The noise came from a locked toilet cubicle. The two military trained men – Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, Air Force serviceman and member of the US National Guard, from Oregon, not long back from a tour of Afghanistan, respectively – jumped el-Qahzzani. They seized control of his automatic weapon. Now a third American, one Anthony Sadler, and the aforesaid Mr Norman joined in.
Mr Norman spoke to French media:
“I saw a guy carrying an AK-47, or at least I assumed it was some kind of machine gun, anyway. 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 actually 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 at the end of it all.
“We ended up by tying him up, then during the process the guy actually 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.”
Mr Skarlatos added:
“Spencer ran a good 10 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 and we are very lucky that nobody got killed, especially Spencer…
Skarlatos disarmed the gunman’s cache of qeapons. He noticed that the loaded AK47 had jammed.
“If that guy’s weapon had been functioning properly I don’t even want to think about how it would have went. Spencer would have been dead for sure, because he was the first one up. We were incredibly lucky.”
These men are heroes. The word is overused. But you know one when you see the real deal. And it’s Spencer Stone.
Mr Sadler, a US student, says:
“I’m just a college student, it’s my last year in college, I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe and we stopped a terrorist, it’s kind of crazy…. In the aftermath, we saw that a man’s throat had been split and he was bleeding profusely. Spencer, who has some paramedics training, just clogged up his neck so he wouldn’t die. This is all in the midst of Spencer bleeding profusely himself. It was just really heroic of him to do something like that…. If Alek didn’t yell ‘Go!’ and Spencer didn’t get up straight away who knows how many people he would have shot.”
Spencer Stone is in hospital. He’s on the mend.