By Jordan Mintzer
Just days after three American tourists helped thwart a potentially deadly attack on a Thalys train en route from Amsterdam to Paris, a well-known French actor who was traveling aboard at the same time has gone public to accuse personnel of abandoning passengers while the incident was taking place.
In an interview with Paris-Match that first appeared on Saturday, 60-year-old star Jean-Hugues Anglade (Killing Zoe, Queen Margot) recounted events that took place last Friday on Thalys train 9364 at approximately 5:45 pm Paris-time. Anglade was traveling back home with his partner and two children when shots broke out in the adjoining car, where Moroccan-born Ayoub El-Khazzani, armed with an AK47 and Luger, began firing on passengers.
Khazzani was eventually subdued by three American friends – Spencer Stone, Alek Skaratos and Anthony Sadler – and a British consultant, Chris Norman, all of whom risked their lives to stop a potential massacre from occurring. (An unnamed Frenchman had tried to intervene earlier.) They have since been deemed heroes by local media and were decorated Monday morning by French president Francois Hollande with the nation’s coveted Légion d’honneur.
While Anglade thanked the men for their “heroic courage,” adding that “without them, we would all be dead,” he had less favorable things to say about the Thalys staff. Trapped with his family in the last car when the attack began, Anglade said that Thalys staff members came running past them down the aisle, opened a service door with a key and locked themselves inside.
At the point, Anglade saw the shooter heading their way in the adjoining car. He broke the safety glass of an alarm with his fist, severely cutting himself in the process, and then pulled the alarm chord to stop the train from moving. Then he tried to get his family to safety behind the locked door, banging on it and screaming for someone to open up. But the Thalys staff did not respond, and Anglade was forced to shield his children with his body, waiting for the shooter to arrive.
After a few tense minutes, Sadler came running through Anglade’s car to say that American servicemen had subdued the assailant, while asking for a first aid kit to assist his friend Stone and the Franco-American Mark Moogalian, both of whom were wounded during the attack.
Anglade qualified the Thalys personnel behavior as “inhuman” and “terrible.” Officials from both the Thalys and the SNCF (French National Railway Company) have assured that an internal investigation is underway. In a press release they further added that the employees Anglade accused of fleeing belonged to the “restaurant staff,” and thus to a subcontracting company.
Anglade is perhaps best known in the U.S. for portraying the coked-up bank robber in Roger Avary’s 1993 thriller, Killing Zoe, or for playing the boyfriend in Luc Besson’s 1990 femme action smash, Nikita. But he has starred in dozens of other French films, most notably Jean-Jacques Beinex’s Betty Blue and Patrice Chereau’s Queen Margot, the latter for which he received the 1995 César award for Best Supporting Actor.