Actions may have prevented ‘far worse tragedy’: Obama
Norman told French television that he helped tie the gunman up. Stone then quickly turned to help another passenger who had been wounded in the throat, stopping his bleeding until paramedics came, Sadler said.
Throughout the brief but terrifying episode, Sadler said, “The gunman never said a word.”
Sadler said French authorities were to speak with him Saturday in Arras, where scientific police circulated around the cordoned-off train and train station.
‘Big, brave, strong guys’
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed that “one U.S. military member was injured in the incident. The injury is not life-threatening.”
U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, and said in a statement, “While the investigation into the attack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy.”
Stone was to undergo surgery but he is doing “relatively well,” Ar- ras Mayor Frederic Leturque told the AP Saturday.
Skarlatos, 22, had returned from a deployment in Afghanistan in July, and Stone is stationed in the Azores, according to Skarlatos’ step-mother Karen Skarlatos.
She spoke with her step-son immediately after the incident. “He sounded fine, but he was intense — he sounded like he had just thwarted a terrorist attack.”
“Alek and Spencer, they’re big, brave, strong guys and they decided they were going to tackle him. And they did,” she told the AP from Oregon. “Spencer got a couple good slices on him. But they were able to subdue him while the train was still moving.”
The Arras mayor praised the “extraordinary reflexes” of the Americans and awarded them special medals overnight.
“I wanted them to feel recognition not only from the city but also from French people in general and from all people who are against terrorism,” he said.
“We avoided the worst, but the situation was tough, for them and for everyone,” he said.
The attacker did not fire his automatic weapon but wounded one man with a handgun and the other with a blade, said Philippe Lorthiois, an official with the Alliance police union.
A third person, French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, suffered a minor injury while activating the train’s emergency alarm, Lorthiois said.
The suspect is a 26-year-old Moroccan, according to Sliman Hamzi, an official with the Alliance police union who spoke on French television i-Tele.
European police agency Europol has offered its support to the investigations.
Europe’s major rail stations, such as Paris’ Gare du Nord and Brussels’ Gare du Midi, are patrolled by soldiers armed with rifles, but passengers can board most high-speed trains without passing through metal detectors or having their bags searched or showing their passports.