French train attack hero stabbed in California

Spencer Stone leaving hospital in France on Aug 22, 2015.
Spencer Stone leaving hospital in France on Aug 22, 2015. AFP
Stone receiving his Legion of Honour medal from French President Francois Hollande.
Stone receiving his Legion of Honour medal from French President Francois Hollande.REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - One of three Americans who helped thwart a terror attack on a Paris-bound train was stabbed in his home state of California – apparently after coming to a woman’s rescue, authorities said Thursday.

Airman Spencer Stone, 23, was stabbed in Sacramento after he got into a fight with a group of men as he was leaving a bar with friends, Ken Bernard, the city’s deputy chief of police told reporters.

He said police received a call at 12.46am from a passerby who witnessed the incident.

Bernard said officers who arrived at the scene found Stone with multiple stab wounds to his upper torso.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was listed as in serious condition.

“He is currently being treated for what appears to be non-life threatening but very significant injuries,” Bernard said, adding that two male Asian suspects were being sought in connection with the attack.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that Stone was apparently trying to defend a woman being harassed by a group of men outside the bar when he got stabbed.

It was unclear if the woman was with Stone.

“A woman was being harassed and he got involved,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The source said several of those in Stone’s group – three women and two men including himself – were drunk but it was unclear if he himself was inebriated.

Video footage of the incident caught by a nearby surveillance camera and released by US media shows Stone fighting off a group of men who scatter when what appears to be a police car arrives at the scene.

A red stain can be seen spreading on Stone’s white shirt.

HEROES PARADE

Bernard said the assault was in no way related to a terrorist act or to the train attack that Stone and two of his friends helped foil while vacationing in France.

Just weeks ago, the town of Sacramento staged a “Heroes Parade” in honour of the trio.

Stone suffered deep slash wounds as he helped to overpower a heavily-armed gunman, 25-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El Khazzani, on Aug 21.

Armed with a pistol, an assault rifle and 270 rounds of ammunition, Khazzani is accused of seeking to massacre passengers on the Amsterdam-Paris train.

Stone was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest decoration, along with Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, a civilian, for their role in thwarting the attack.

The trio were also invited to the White House by President Barack Obama and Stone received a Purple Heart and Airman’s Medal from the Pentagon.

Stone had only just returned to work at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Skarlatos also had a near miss last week.

The 22-year-old had been due to attend the community college in Oregon where a gunman went on a rampage, killing nine people.

The only reason he was not at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, he says, was the attention he has been getting since the train attack.

Instead, he was in Los Angeles rehearsing for this season’s Dancing With The Stars, in which he has been invited to compete, when he heard of the shooting and rushed back to Roseburg where he is assigned to an infantry unit.

“If I didn’t get called for ‘Dancing’ I would have been on campus,” Skarlatos said.

“I mean, it’s just absolutely insane to be in a situation like this, especially in my town, Roseburg,” he said.

Skarlatos put out a message of support on Thursday in a Tweet that read: “Everybody send prayers out to the Stone family today.”