It turns out the story is even scarier than was first reported. The attacker was carrying enough weapons to have killed scores of passengers within moments -- even with a malfunctioning AK47. So if not for the Americans' decision to get better WiFi on the train and claim their seats in another car, the carnage would likely have happened....
3 Americans changed seats, stopped attack
August 23 at 2:17 PM EDT
The Washington Post
PARIS — The three American friends who helped foil a mass shooting on a packed high-speed train on its way to Paris started the trip in a different car, they said Sunday, underlining how narrowly their triumph could have been a tragedy.
When they got on the train in Amsterdam, they could not find their first-class seats, so they sat in a nearby car, said Anthony Sadler, one of the three vacationing childhood friends who have been lauded as heroes by President Obama and French President François Hollande.
“We decided to get up because the WiFi wasn’t so good on that car,” Sadler said. “We were like, ‘We have a ticket to first class. We might as well go sit in first class.’ ”
About half an hour after the train pulled away from Amsterdam, they switched to the car where the shooter, a short time later, opened fire, he said.
Along with two other men, they tackled, then disarmed, a suspected Islamist militant who packed a trove of weaponry into his rucksack Friday.
The three men — friends since middle school in California — appeared together in public on Sunday for the first time since they overpowered and then trussed the shooter.
One of the men, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, had his arm in a sling after an operation to reattach his thumb, which was nearly severed during the attack. All three looked exhausted and sported days-old beards. But they displayed some of the camaraderie that had bound them together since their teens, quietly finishing each other’s sentences when answering questions from reporters in a gilded hall inside the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris.
All three of them said they had barely had time to ponder what they had gone through — and that as the fighting unfolded over the course of just a few minutes, they barely thought at all.
“He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we,” Stone said, his right eye bloodshot and watering, his left hand heavily bandaged.
The third friend, Spec. Alek Skarlatos, who just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, said that some of his training kicked in after the gunman was subdued, as he searched for more shooters and tried to provide security on the train.