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France

‘I thought he was going to kill me’, says French-American hero of train attack

© Mark Moogalian

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-08-26

French-American professor Mark Moogalian, who was shot as he tried to disarm a Kalashnikov-wielding gunman on a Paris-bound train last week, gave his first interview on Wednesday.

Moogalian, 51, told Paris Match from his hospital bed how he disarmed the gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani, only to be shot in the back.

The Paris-based professor, who will be given France’s prestigious Legion d’Honneur medal for his bravery once he has recovered, managed to wrestle the rifle off Khazzani before being shot in the back with the attacker’s second gun.

Moogalian was travelling with his wife Isabelle Risacher when he spotted Khazzani “behaving strangely” near the train toilets.

“I then saw him coming out of the toilet and saw another man struggling with him from behind,” he recounted.

The man who had grabbed Khazzani is a French banker who has asked to remain anonymous.

Moogalian, a professor at Paris’s famed Sorbonne University, rushed to his aid.

“We struggled, and somehow I managed to get the Kalashnikov out of the gunman’s grip,” he said.

‘I’ve got the weapon!’

Moogalian said he then ran through the train towards his wife, shouting “I’ve got the weapon!”

“But then I heard gunshots and I felt a huge pain in my back,” he said. “I fell between the seats and let go of the weapon. I didn’t know he also had a handgun.”

Moogalian told Paris Match that he collapsed on the ground bleeding profusely. Khazzani retrieved the rifle, while Moogalian “played dead because I thought he was going to finish me off, to kill me”.

Khazzani was eventually disarmed by 23-year-old US Air Force Airman Spencer Stone and 22-year-old National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, with the help of their friend Anthony Sadler and 62-year-old Briton Christopher Norman. French President François Hollande presented the four with Legion d’Honneur medals in front of the world’s press and with full pomp on Monday.

Moogalian’s French wife Isabelle told France's Europe 1 radio station on Monday that Stone, who was himself injured after Khazzani slashed him with a box cutter, came across the wounded Moogalian and staunched the bleeding by holding his finger on the wound until paramedics arrived.

"My husband is among the heroes of this story, and he nearly paid with his life, because just a few millimetres closer and the bullet would have sliced his carotid artery," she said.

Moogalian lives in Paris but is originally from Midlothian, Virginia, in the United States.

Date created : 2015-08-26

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