3 Amer­i­cans, Bri­ton praised af­ter sub­du­ing gun­man on board train

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NA­DINE ACHOUI-LESAGE AND STEPHANIE SIEK

One serves in the U.S. Air Force, another re­cently served in Afghanistan in the U.S. Na­tional Guard, another is study­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy in Cal­i­for­nia — and all three Amer­i­cans, along with a UK na­tional, are be­ing hailed as he­roes for tack­ling and dis­arm­ing a gun­man they hap­pened to en­counter on a high-speed train be­tween Am­s­ter­dam and Paris.

U. S. Air Force ser­vice­man Spencer Stone re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Satur­day af­ter be­ing stabbed in the at­tack Fri­day night as the train trav­eled through Bel­gium, though the U.S. De­fense Depart­ment said the in­jury was not life-threat­en­ing. A dual French-Amer­i­can citizen was also wounded as he was hit by chance by a gun­shot on the train, which even­tu­ally stopped in Ar­ras in north­ern France, French Home Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said.

Cazeneuve, speak­ing to re­porters in Paris on Satur­day, said that the sus­pect may be a 26- year- old Moroccan flagged by Span­ish author­i­ties last year for links to Is­lamic rad­i­cal move­ments, but the iden­tity has not been 100 per­cent con­firmed.

An of­fi­cial linked to Spain’s an- ti-ter­ror­ism unit said the sus­pect lived in Spain un­til 2014, then moved to France, trav­eled to Syria, and then re­turned to France. He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to be iden­ti­fied by name.

French author­i­ties are ques­tion­ing the at­tacker and are ex­pected to speak to at least one of the Amer­i­cans on Satur­day about what hap­pened. Coun­tert­er­ror­ism po­lice are lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Paris pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice.

The Bel­gian fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice has also opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent on the grounds that the sus­pect had boarded the train in Brus­sels, said spokesman Eric Van der Sypt. He said Bel­gian author­i­ties are as­sist­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is led by France.

Cazeneuve said the vi­o­lence be­gan when a French pas­sen­ger ran into the heav­ily armed sus­pect while try­ing to en­ter a bath­room and the gun­man fired a weapon.

Cazeneuve said the Amer­i­cans “were par­tic­u­larly coura­geous and showed great brav­ery in very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances,” and that “with­out their sangfroid we could have been con­fronted with a ter­ri­ble drama.” Chris Nor­man, a Bri­tish pas­sen­ger, helped sub­due the at­tacker.

Cazeneuve called for cau­tion be­fore jump­ing to con­clu­sions. French author­i­ties are on height­ened alert af­ter Is­lamic ex­trem­ist at­tacks in Jan­uary left 20 peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing the three gun­men. In June, a lone at­tacker claim­ing al­le­giance to Is­lamic rad­i­cals be­headed his em­ployer and set off an ex­plo­sion at an Amer­i­canowned fac­tory in France, rais­ing con­cerns about other scat­tered, hard-to-pre­dict at­tacks.

An­thony Sadler, a se­nior at Sacra­mento State Univer­sity, was trav­el­ing with child­hood friends Stone, of Carmichael, Cal­i­for­nia, and Alek Skar­latos, a Na­tional Guards­man from Rose­burg, Ore­gon, when they heard a gun­shot and break­ing glass. Sadler told The As­so­ci­ated Press that they saw a train em­ployee sprint down the aisle fol­lowed by a gun­man with an au­to­matic ri­fle.

“As he was cock­ing it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first con­tact, he tack­les the guy, Alek wres­tles the gun away from him, and the gun­man pulls out a box­cut­ter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him un­til he was un­con­scious.”

Story con­tin­ues on page 2

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