‘Click-click-click’ then 15 seconds of terror on French train
Amy and her husband Joe were sitting quietly on the AmsterdamParis Thalys train Friday evening when the window behind her was shattered by a bullet, showering her with glass.
Another passenger, Damien, was reading a magazine when he heard what he described as a “click-clickclick.”
“I thought it was a toy,” the stillshocked 35-year-old told AFP.
What followed was 15 seconds of confusion and chaos.
A gunman armed with a Kalashnikov had opened fire on the high-speed train, carrying more than 550 passengers — but, almost before bystanders had time to react, he had been overpowered by several passengers.
Two people were wounded in the struggle, including, according to the U.S. Defense Department, a mem- ber of the U.S. military, though it was not clear if they were the same people who had subdued the gunman.
Ten minutes later the train stopped at Arras, where police arrested the shooter, described by French investigators as a 26-yearold from Morocco or of Moroccan origin also armed with an automatic pistol and a box cutter.
In Arras, stunned passengers waited to speak to police as the Red Cross distributed bottled water.
“The man stopped between two carriages, fired and it made a clickclick-click sound, not at all like in the films,” Damien told AFP.
“Then the man, who was barechested, returned to carriage 12 and someone in a green T-shirt, with a shaved head, saw him and jumped on him and pinned him to the ground.”
The entire scene, he said, “did
not last more than 15 seconds.”
‘Blood was everywhere’
Christina Cathleen Coons, an American tourist, said she had been in carriage 12 when the shots rang out.
“I heard gunshots, probably two, and a guy collapsed,” she recounted.
“There was a woman in the background, perhaps 40 years old, with her husband — I saw the glass over her break because of the shot,” the 28-year-old New Yorker said.
“A guy fell on the ground and blood was everywhere, apparently he was hit in the neck.”
Pressed to the floor of the carriage, she quickly began snapping pictures on her smartphone — images that swiftly went around the world.
“I thought there was going to be a shoot-out on the train,” she said.
Laurent, a 40-year-old from Paris who was in the next carriage, said Thalys staff rushed into his car.
“A lady came into our train shouting ‘he was shot, he is losing blood, is there a doctor?’” he said.
Laurent knew first aid — but he hesitated, he said, unsure if the gunman was still on the loose.
Once it emerged that the shooter had been subdued, he went to help.
“I saw a person on the ground, another person had made a tourniquet around his neck, I saw him move,” he said.
Another person lay restrained on the ground, he said, referring to the shooter.
A woman nearby was panicking, he said, wondering why the train continued to move and help did not come. “There was a lot of panic.”
Amy, the American tourist who had been sitting beneath the window when it was shattered by the bullet, was being comforted by her husband Joe.