The American student who, along with two friends, helped thwart an attack aboard a French train en route to Paris from Amsterdam, nearly didn’t leave the Dutch city, underlining how easily their heroic triumph could have been a tragedy.
“You almost didn’t make this train, right?” host Jimmy Fallon asked.
“We were having so much fun in Amsterdam, we actually almost stayed,” Anthony Sadler revealed on the “Tonight Show” Tuesday, compelling Fallon to crack a string of stereotypical Amsterdam-themed insinuations.
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"Please just walk me through what happened," Fallon asked. "I know you've probably told the story a thousand times."
"I could tell it to you all day, man," the 23-year-old California State University student replied.
Sadler explained that he was sleeping on the train when a gunshot went off followed by the sound of glass breaking and he awoke in the commotion. He turned to look at his childhood friends, Spencer Stone, a U.S. Air Force member, and Alek Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard, and noticed they were looking behind them.
"There's the gunman coming in the train cocking an AK and I'm like, 'Is this real? Is somebody playing a joke?' the California native recalled. “The next second I look back at my friends and he's just like, 'Go.' Both of them get up and then I just followed them.”
The three friends subdued the suspect, identified as 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani, by “beating him down a little bit” and Sadler says he’s thankful no shots were fired in the ensuing struggle.
Sadler said he had no military training, but, thankfully, his friends did. And despite being slashed by a box cutter while holding El-Khazanni in a chokehold, Stone was able to give medical assistance to another injured passenger.
“I couldn’t have picked a better two [friends] to be with,” the student proclaimed.
El-Khazzani was carrying several magazines of ammunition for his assault rifle and a bottle of petrol. The Moroccan’s phone showed that he had watched a jihadist video shortly before launching the attack, and prosecutors have filed formal charges against him.
All three Americans received the France’s highest honor, the French Legion of Honor, from President Francois Hollande for their bravery.