Two unarmed U.S. servicemen traveling on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris overpowered a Moroccan gunman with terrorist ties and armed with a Kalashnikov rifle.
Watch raw cellphone video shot after the gunman was taken down:
The gunman, 26, reportedly pleaded with the Americans to hand his gun back, according to the French news agency AFP.
“Everything happened very fast,” Anthony Sadler, a student traveling with friends Alex Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, both of whom are in the U.S. military, told AFP.
“I didn’t realize what was happening until I saw a guard run past. I looked back and saw a guy enter with a Kalashnikov. My friends and I got down and then I said, ‘Let’s get him,'” said Skarlatos, 22, a member of the National Guard in Oregon who recently returned from service in Afghanistan.
“We didn’t know if the gun wasn’t working or anything like that. Spencer just ran anyway, and if anyone had gotten shot, it would have been Spencer, and we’re just very lucky that nobody got killed,” he added.
Stone tackled the gunman but was cut with a knife.
“At that point I showed up and grabbed the gun from him and basically started beating him in the head until he fell unconscious,” Skarlatos told reporters.
Sadler added that the gunman “didn’t stand a chance.”
“As soon as we saw him, we all ran back there. It all happened really fast,” he said.
“He didn’t say anything. He was just telling us to give back his gun. ‘Give me back my gun! Give me back my gun!’ But we just carried on beating him up and immobilized him and that was it.”
Mobile phone footage from inside the train and shown on several TV stations shows the suspect, a skinny man wearing white trousers and no shirt, flattened on the floor of the train with his hands and feet tied behind his back.
A Kalashnikov is seen leaning against a seat and blood is visible on a window.
Sadler said he had spoken to Stone, recovering from the knife wound in hospital, adding that he was “doing well.”
“He can’t believe that all this happened,” said Sadler. “I’m just a college student. I came to see my friends for my first trip to Europe, and we stop a terrorist. It’s kind of crazy.”
President Barack Obama offered his congratulations to the Americans.
“It is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy,” he said.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was relieved that things turned out as they did.
“Without their cool-headed actions we could have been faced with a terrible incident,” he said.
Other news services picked it up:
Gunman wounds three people on train in northern France before being overpowered by passengers – rail officials http://t.co/KxwL3TWXG7
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) August 21, 2015
MORE: French minister says two Americans subdued train gunman, one was seriously wounded: http://t.co/BpEc9OTCHF
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 21, 2015
Hero US marine who prevented terrorist train massacre ‘in critical condition’ – praised for ‘extreme bravery’ http://t.co/YSwfiaUBau
— Diana Allocco (@dianamee) August 21, 2015
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