Guardsman Took Gunman’s AK-47 Rifle, Luger Pistol


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.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Mihe H.

    If the two servicemen do not get decorated by both the French and the US, then we will REALLY have a reason to complain very LOUDLY. I figure the Croix de Guerre from the French, and at least a Silver Star for the Americans. These guys are bona-fide Heroes, and we have every reason to be proud of them.

    • Pete

      They were decorated by a local French official, IMMEDIATELY!

      • USMC 0351YUT

        The reason the reporting on these guys were so off,

        is because these three guys are actually part of a little known program in the gov’t code named Blackbriar.

        They were on a training run, to buy throw away cell phones, use fake passports, get into some scuffles with local authorities, do parkour, rent scooters, speak 5 to 7 languages fluently and the like.

        They’ll tell you that they were taking their naps on the train when this all happened, but current Blackbriar candidates don’t sleep, that’s how hyper-aware they are.

        When this jihadi’s gun jammed, the two Blackbriar candidates did what they were trained.

        The black guy (the senior of the group) is actually an Outcome/Blackbriar candidate, newer program.

        So if you noticed he looked more composed than the other two guys. By the looks of it,

        the black candidate could very well move up to Larx.

        Their cover is usually that of Airman or a “college student”, to dissuade any assumptions related to SOCOM and the Marine Corps, where most candidates are hand picked from.

        They probably overheard one guy say, “Good initiative, bad judgment” after taking out the jihadi and correctly assumed some connection to the Marine Corps.

        • Trey

          Really, so the Bourne movies ARE real!!!

      • Brett

        It’s Obama’s fault.

  • JCitizen

    The cable news media has done a very poor job of covering this story (typical)- Thanks to KIt-Up, I finally understand what happened. Kudos to those brave men! Imagine if everybody did this – the terrorist wouldn’t have a chance! Better to go down fighting than die like a dog! It seems like the news doesn’t care for positive news, it isn’t exciting enough for them, apparently. I find the ticker tape news running at the bottom of the screen more interesting than what they blather on and on about. Keep up the good work Military (dot) com!!

    • McGarryB17

      Glad you liked it. I’ve since done another story about this leading with Stone’s version of events based on a press conference today in Paris. They’re quite remarkable individuals:

      • JCitizen


  • cstandi1

    Silver star is unlikely since this did not take place in a war zone. A Soldier’s Medal and Air Man’s Medal are pretty much guaranteed.

  • Carl

    It was very interesting to watch this event start out as a post on the military blogs and social media sites. As most of you know it was originally stated that these Americans were U.S. Marines. There were hundreds of posts with “Awesome Marines take down terrorist, Semper Fi,” and such. When the truth came out that it was an Airman and Guardsman who did the “take-down.” the silence was deafening and immediate, you could hear a pin drop on those military blogs, it would appear no marine wanted to be caught dead giving any kind of credit to the USAF or the National Guard.

    • BrettS

      Blame Obama.

    • IronV

      I don’t think you can say that about the Marines. My son’s in the Air Force and multiple Marines have expressed how cool they think it is.

  • MarkW

    I don’t think thats fair. I’m an active Marine and I give them plenty of credity and kudos! Who cares if there was a mistake in the initial reporting. I wonder who made it, that’s a good question. It happens sometimes. They’re bonafide heroes, no question there. Semper Fi.

    • BrettB

      Also a Marine, and I think these guys are awesome! A few awesome Americans making themselves and the US Military look good.

      Everyone was sending me links to the articles saying that “US Marines” were responsible, and as a Marine, I thought it was pretty cool! I also wonder why the initial reporting was so far off… that’s pretty weird.

      • JL

        Also a Marine… I too give them their cudos. I am glad that these men stood up. It matters no difference to me whether or not theses guys were Marines or civilians. I am proud of these men.

  • Robbie

    The Legion of Honor has five levels. These guys received the lowest level, which I thought was a bit insulting as that is the level given to movie stars, civil servants, industrialists and so forth. Since these guys risked their lives and one was injured in hand-to-hand combat with an armed terrorist, I think at least the next level up would have been more appropriate.

    • Gordon

      You have to receive the first level… firstly. You can’t get directly to the Commandeur or above.

      • JimB

        If Obama was truly American he would be bombing the French to get them to award our boys the highest levels without going thru the first level.

  • Yellow Devil

    Excellent job on the Airmen, Guardsman and his friend. Situational awareness, even when not in a combat zone, is still crucial in this day and age. Not just against terrorist, but against criminals as well.

    Shame on the media for getting the report so wrong in the first place, just so they can get the story out first.

  • galloglas

    Seriously these guys were one failed primer or jammed AK and an unloaded pistol away from mass murder.
    Luck and circumstance, not knocking their heroism in the least it could have gone the other way.

  • JimP

    I can only hope I’d be able to find that kind of courage in a similar situation.

  • Scott Schliep

    Am I the only one who has noticed that this report says the gunman was armed with a “Luger” (German military WW1 & WW2 pistol with a single stack magazine), but the photo of the police on the train station platform showing the AK magazines also clearly shows a pistol magazine that is double stack (high capacity) magazine, clearly not from a Luger. Perhaps they meant Ruger?

    • Docduracoat

      Europeans often refer to any 9 mm pistol as a Luger, referring to the 9 mm Luger round
      Not the iconic German WW2 gun