Kudos to the three Americans who are rightly being hailed as heroes for subduing an Islamist gunman Friday while riding on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.
Spencer Stone, an airman in the Air Force, was the first to make contact with the gunman, who was wielding an AK-47 rifle, a Luger pistol and a box cutter. The gunman, known to French authorities as a security risk, slashed Stone with a box cutter in the head and neck and hand (some reports indicated his thumb was nearly cut off).
But Stone (shown at left in the image below) was able to subdue him with a choke hold, and Stone’s childhood friends with whom he was visiting Europe, Alek Skarlatos, a National Guardsmen from Oregon (shown at right), and Anthony Sadler, a college student in California (shown in the middle), helped disarm and ultimately hogtie him (as did an unnamed Frenchman and a middle-aged Briton named Chris Norman).
Skarlatos’ testimonial about the incident shows his firearm knowledge came in handy, but he also makes it clear they were quite lucky — thanks in part to a faulty AK-47. Here’s what he told Sky News:
“I saw a guy entering the train with an AK and a handgun. At that point, I ducked down. Spencer, my friend next to me, ducked down. And I just looked over at Spencer and said, ‘ Let’s go! Go!’ And he jumped up and I followed behind him by about three seconds.
Spencer got to the guy first, grabbed the guy by the neck, and I grabbed the handgun, got the handgun away from the guy and threw it. And then I grabbed the AK, which was at his feet, and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it and … everybody just started beating on the guy while Spencer held the choke hold, until he went unconscious. At that point, people started to restrain him.
I grabbed the AK and started walking up and down a few of the cars, making sure there wasn’t another gunman. I came back to the main car, where it all started and cleared the weapons and put them in a little pile. I noticed when I removed the round in the chamber of the AK that the primer had been struck, which means that he pulled the trigger on the AK, the primer was just faulty, so the gun didn’t go off, luckily, and he didn’t know how to fix it, which is also very lucky.
And when I cleared the handgun, I noticed there was no magazine in it, so he either dropped it accidentally or he didn’t load it properly, so he was only able to get what appeared to be one shot off with the handgun.”
Skarlatos praised his friend in a separate interview with French television:
“Spencer ran a good 10 meters to get to the guy and we didn’t know 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. We’re very lucky that nobody got killed, especially Spencer.”