Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos fended off a heavily armed gunman on a high-speed passenger train en route to Paris, thwarting a potential massacre.

Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos Thwart Gunman In France

Sadler, Stone and Skarlatos neutralized the suspect, identified as Ayoub El Khazzani, with the help of British passenger Chris Norman. Together, they were able to disarm Khazzani of an AK-47, a Luger pistol and a considerable amount of ammunition. They then tackled him to the ground, beat him and tied him up.

“At that time he was cocking the AK-47, so it was either do something or die, said Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University. “In times of crisis … do something. Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything.”

“The gunman would have been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up,” Sadler added, referring to Stone, who serves in the Air Force.

Stone apparently had managed to put Khazzani in a chokehold, but the attacker continued to fight, stabbing at him with a box cutter. Sadler and Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard, eventually succeeded in subduing Khazzani. Stone suffered injuries to his eye and hand in the fight.

Norman stated that Khazzani “put up quite a bit of a fight. But Spencer Stone is a very strong guy. He actually held him very well and Alexander and Anthony had a pretty good go at hitting him.”

For their bravery, Stone, Sadler, Skarlatos and Norman were presented with the the Legion of Honor, France’s highest recognition, by President François Hollande.

“By their courage, they saved lives. They gave us an example of what is possible to do in these kinds of situations,” Hollande said. “Three Americans and one Englishman … you risked your lives to defend an ideal, the ideal of liberty and freedom.”

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