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French train shooting: Passengers thwart a gunman’s attempt to attack Paris-bound train

Originally published on 24 August, 2015

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Several passengers, including three Americans, thwarted a possible massacre on a high-speed train on Friday when gunman, Ayoub El Khazzani, opened fire while the train was traveling near the French town of Arras.

On a high-speed Thalys train bound for Paris, El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan national, loaded his Kalashnikov assault rifle in the bathroom of car 12. Besides the assault rifle, the shirtless gunman also had nine magazines of ammunition, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition for the pistol and a box cutter on him.

One passenger, 51-year-old professor Mark Magoolian, met El Khazzani as he was leaving the bathroom and wrestled away the Kalashnikov. But then El Khazzani took out his sidearm and shot Magoolian in the back of the neck.

El Khazzani strolled down the aisle in the train’s carriage and tried to discharge his Kalashnikov, which was jammed. Three Americans saw the gunman, and seeing that his gun appeared to be jammed, charged at him from their seats approximately nine metres away.

One was able to grab El Khazzani around the neck, immobilizing him, while another grabbed the handgun and threw it away during the tussle. He then picked up El Khazzani’s Kalashnikov and proceeded to hit him in the head with it. During the struggle, El Khazzani was able to pull out his box cutter and cut one of the Americans several times, but the neither of the trio received any life-threatening injuries.

Eventually the passengers were able to subdue El Khazzani and tied up his arms and legs. Another passenger, a British man, was hurt while helping to subdue the man.

Two of the Americans, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, had military backgrounds. Stone is in the U.S. Air Force while Skarlatos is a member of the National Guard.


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