The mystery man who tackled rifle from train terrorist is an Armenian American academic named Mark Moogalian
The mystery identity of the first heroic passenger to wrestle a weapon from the high-speed train gunman can be disclosed for the first time by The Telegraph.
Mark Moogalian, a 51-year-old professor at the Sorbonne, tackled Ayoub El-Khazzani during Friday’s bloody incident aboard an Amsterdam-Paris international service.
Mr Moogalian, who lives in Paris but is originally from Midlothian, Virginia, US, is the previously unnamed man who came to the aid of “Damien A”, 28, a French banker who confronted El-Khazzani.
The academic acted instinctively to protect his wife Isabella Risacher, who was also aboard the Thalys train.He tackled the Kalashnikov assault rifle off El-Khazzani, who then drew a sidearm and shot him in the neck before taking back the rifle, his sister has revealed. Three other US citizens including two military personnel, and Chris Norman, a British businessman then stepped in to disarm and overpower the assailant.
Mr Moogalian’s sister Julia said that first he made sure his wife was hidden behind a seat, but she watched the whole thing happen.
According to her words he did manage to get the weapon away from the gunman, but the latter then pulled another gun and shot her brother.
“There’s a video of him saying ‘help me’ – he thought he was losing so much blood he would die. He’s in extremely good shape – he cycles miles and runs – so we think that stood him well for this”.
“The French President has reached out to ask him to come to dinner when he is fit enough.”
The academic, a keen musician and cyclist, was shot in the back of the neck and the bullet passed through his body causing nerve damage, his sister said. She said that he’s okay, though he still has metal from the bullet in his body.
“We are extremely proud of him. We are excited that he has been so brave but he is an ocean away from us so it’s difficult to be apart at a time like this.”
Miss Risacher said: “He is in hospital and he is alright. But it was quite a difficult situation. Because he took the bullet in the back of the neck and it came out from the front it is quite a bad wound. So far nobody knows what has been going on with Mark. We have not spoken to anyone.”
Mr Moogalian is understood to teach English at the Paris-Sorbonne University.
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