When a gunman armed with an AK-47 attempted to attack a packed passenger train in a terror attack in France, Chris Norman, 62 – who grew up in South Africa – thought he was going to die.
But he was determined to die fighting, and therefore “sprang into action”.
Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25, has been arrested by French police after opening fire in the packed high-speed train. But his attack was cut short by four men, including Norman and Americans Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler.
The train was travelling between Amsterdam and Paris on Friday and the attack happened shortly after the gunman emerged from the toilet inside carriage 12. One man was hit in the neck by a bullet as terrified passengers and staff fled. Three people were injured in the attack, including Stone.
The men “tackled, beat up and hogtied the suspect”. Besides the assault rifle, they also confiscated a Luger pistol, ammunition and a box cutter.
Norman said he was scared when they decided to tackle the would-be attacker but carried on, with the idea of stopping him.
He spoke to French media after the eventful train journey.
“My first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard one guy, an American, say, ‘go get him’. Then I heard another American saying, ‘don’t you do that buddy’, or something like that.
“I think that was it. So then I decided it was perhaps the only time or only chance to take on the terrorist.”
Norman said the man had extra magazines for the AK-47 and he thought he was going to die.
“My thoughts were I’m probably going to die anyway. I thought I’d rather die being active, trying to take him down than sitting in the corner and being shot. But once you start moving you are not afraid anymore,” he said.
Norman lives in France and has a UK passport. He was born in Uganda and grew up in South Africa before starting his own IT consultancy business in 2012.