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American passenger recalls trying to kill train attacker

Alek Skarlatos, center right, Anthony Sadler, right, Mark Moogalian, left, and their lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, center left, deliver a speech durin...
From left, lawyer Louis Cailliez, Alek Skarlatos, lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, Anthony Sadler, Mark Moogalian and Isabelle Risacher Moogalian, pose a...
Train host Shauna Asley Verstichelen greets Alek Skarlatos, at the end of their hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday...
Alek Skarlatos delivers a speech at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passengers w...
Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, deliver a speech during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passe...
Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, deliver a speech during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passe...
Alek Skarlatos gives a thumb up at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passengers wh...
Alek Skarlatos, left, Anthony Sadler, right, and their lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, pose for photographers at the end of their hearing during the Tha...
Train host Shauna Asley Verstichelen, center, greets Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, at the end of their hearing during the Thalys at...
Mark Moogalian arrives to deliver a speech at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Pa...

Alek Skarlatos, center right, Anthony Sadler, right, Mark Moogalian, left, and their lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, center left, deliver a speech durin...

From left, lawyer Louis Cailliez, Alek Skarlatos, lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, Anthony Sadler, Mark Moogalian and Isabelle Risacher Moogalian, pose a...

Train host Shauna Asley Verstichelen greets Alek Skarlatos, at the end of their hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday...

Alek Skarlatos delivers a speech at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passengers w...

Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, deliver a speech during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passe...

Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, deliver a speech during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passe...

Alek Skarlatos gives a thumb up at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Passengers wh...

Alek Skarlatos, left, Anthony Sadler, right, and their lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, pose for photographers at the end of their hearing during the Tha...

Train host Shauna Asley Verstichelen, center, greets Alek Skarlatos, left, and Anthony Sadler, right, at the end of their hearing during the Thalys at...

Mark Moogalian arrives to deliver a speech at the end of his hearing during the Thalys attack trial at the Paris courthouse, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Pa...

PARIS (AP) — One of three Americans acclaimed as heroes for tackling an alleged Islamic State gunman aboard a Paris-bound train testified at the man’s trial Friday that he tried to kill him.

Alek Skarlatos told the Paris court that he yanked a pistol from the attacker’s hand, turned it on him and pulled the trigger but that the gun did not fire.

“I was honestly trying my best to kill or restrain him,” Skarlatos said.

The attack suspect, Ayoub El Khazzani, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of attempted terrorist murder. The 31-year-old Moroccan is being tried with three suspected accomplices.

The recollections in court this week from passengers who disarmed the attacker on the train from Amsterdam have highlighted the split-second decisions that foiled what could have become a mass slaughter. The passengers’ heroics on Aug. 21, 2015 inspired Clint Eastwood to direct a Hollywood movie reenacting the dramatic events: “The 15:17 to Paris.”

Skarlatos and two other longtime friends were vacationing together. They grew up together in California. One of the friends, Spencer Stone, managed to pin down the attacker in a stranglehold. Skarlatos moved in, too, joined by another passenger once the gunman was on the ground.

He “was surprisingly difficult to control,” Skarlatos testified.

With the attacker under control, the train rerouted to Arras, in northern France, where El Khazzani was arrested.

Authorities say El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels armed with the Kalashnikov, nine clips with 30 rounds each, an automatic pistol and a cutter.

Once aboard the train, El Khazzani lingered in a restroom between cars, where two other passengers confronted him, and then emerged bare-chested with his weapons.


Updated : 2021-01-22 09:02 GMT+08:00