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5 Things to Know About the Americans Who Stopped the French Train Attack

2 minute read

On Friday, three Americans helped to subdue a rifle-toting attacker on a French high speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris before he could carry out an attack. Here’s what we know about the men U.S. European Command Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove called “heroes.”

Who They Are

The Americans, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, are friends who were traveling in Europe on vacation, according to CNN. Stone and Sadler live in Sacramento, Cal. while Skarlatos is from Roseburg, Ore. Sadler is a senior at Sacramento State University studying physical therapy.

Their Training

Stone is a member of the Air Force, Skarlatos is a member of the National Guard who recently returned from Afghanistan, and Sadler is a civilian.

How They Stopped the Attack

When the friends heard glass shattering and people running, they decided to overtake the attacker, who was carrying a Kalishnikov rifle, a pistol, box cutter and other weaponry. According to an account Skarlatos gave to the New York Times, Spencer grabbed the gunman by the neck while Skarlatos managed to wrest his rifle away.

Sadler described the attack to the Associated Press:

“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.”

Their Injuries

Stone was slashed by the box cutter in the head and neck multiple times. He is being treated at a nearby hospital, along with two passengers, one of whom was shot and another who was slashed in the neck.

What They’re Doing Now

French President Francois Holland will meet with the Americans in coming days, while U.S. President Barack Obama praised their travelers in a statement: “Their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy,” he said.

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