France train attack hero stabbed in California, critical

Los Angeles, October 9

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 on 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 in serious condition after undergoing two hours of surgery.

“He is being treated for what appear 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 an argument escalated and he got stabbed. It was unclear if the woman was with Stone.

“A woman was being harassed and he got involved,” said the source. The source said several of those in Stone’s group -- three women and another man -- were drunk but it was unclear if Stone 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.

Another surveillance video released by police shows the two alleged suspects involved in the altercation running and getting into a car that quickly drives off.

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 honor 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 August 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 Honor, France’s highest decoration, along with Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, a civilian. The trio was also invited to the White House by President Barack Obama and Stone received a Purple Heart and an Airman’s Medal from the Pentagon.

Stone had only just returned to work at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento.