PARIS – A US passenger who tackled a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris said survival instinct led him to react.
Speaking of the incident for the first time, off-duty US airman Spencer Stone told journalists he had just woken from a deep sleep when he saw the gunman and moved to restrain him on Friday.
His friend, Alek Skarlatos, a member of the US National Guard, said the gunman appeared to have no training.
French authorities say the suspect, Moroccan national Ayoub El-Kahzzani, 25, has links to radical Islamism.
French police are questioning the gunman who was flagged up to French authorities by their Spanish counterparts in February 2014.
He is reported to have lived in France, Spain, and Belgium and to have travelled to Syria.
Stone, Skarlatos and a third American, Anthony Sadler, have been hailed as heroes for their actions on Friday, and were giving a press conference at the US embassy in Paris.
It was the first appearance before the cameras for Mr Stone, who has been treated in hospital and was wearing a sling because of injuries to his thumb.
Asked what led him to react, he replied “survival”.
“I turned around and I saw he had what looked to be an AK-47 and it looked like it was jammed or wasn’t working and he was trying to charge the weapon.
“Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said ‘let’s go’ and ran down, tackled him. We hit the ground.”
Friday’s incident began when a French passenger tried to enter a toilet, encountered the gunman and tried to overpower him. It is thought this passenger may have since requested anonymity.