Paris train hero Alek Skarlatos said he would have been on campus at Umpqua Community College in Oregon the day of the deadly mass shooting there, if he hadn't put his education on hold to join "Dancing with the Stars."
Skarlatos was filming a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Thursday, the same day that 10 people were killed in the shooting at UCC, including gunman Chris Harper Mercer.
Skarlatos was originally booked to discuss his role in thwarting a French train terrorist attack — and show off his "Dancing With the Stars" routine.
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He told DeGeneres that he "had classes picked out and everything" for this semester at UCC's Reserve Academy before he decided to lace up for the ABC reality competition instead.
Well before Skarlatos became a household name for taking down a gunman on the Paris-bound train, he attended UCC then deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. As a student he took classes in Snyder Hall, where the shootings took place.
"It’s a fairly small community college and just, the town in general, everybody knows each other so with that many deceased I mean everybody’s going to know at least one person," Skarlatos said.
Skarlatos has since tweeted that was headed home to Roseburg. "Everyone send thoughts and prayers to the families," he wrote.
At least seven people were injured in Thursday's attack at UCC. Mercer, 26, was killed amid a firefight with police. According to a parent of a student who was in the classroom during the shooting, the gunman demanded to know his victims' religions before he opened fire. Anyone who identified as a Christian was shot in the head.
After the tragedy in Oregon, President Barack Obama called for action on gun control.
"Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough — it does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now," Obama said.
Last month, Skarlatos met with the president in the White House to honor him for his involvement in taking down the French train gunman back in August. A specialist in the Oregon National Guard, Skarlatos and his friend, Spencer Stone, an airman first class in the Air Force, disarmed and took down the assailant, preventing a massacre. They were aided by their friend Anthony Sadler and a British man living in France, Chris Norman.
France's president awarded each man the Legion d'Honneur, the country's highest honor.
On Thursday, Skarlatos released a statement that confirmed his ties to UCC and referenced his earlier heroics.
"While I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time in August aboard a train bound for Paris, I only wish that the same could be said for today," he said.