The U.S. Army National Guardsman who thwarted an attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris in August is a former student at Umpqua Community College, and was supposed to be on campus when a shooting broke out Thursday morning.
The 22-year-old had enrolled at the school for the fall semester, and had classes scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursday.
But if he had not accepted a gig on “Dancing with the Stars” this season, Alek Skarlatos is almost certain he would have been on campus during the shooting Thursday.
“While I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time in August aboard a train bound for Paris, I only wish that the same could be said for today,” Skarlatos said during an interview on ABC Friday morning.
He said if he had been in the classroom he would have tried to take down the gunman.
“I praise the first responders who were on the ground today in Roseburg as they undoubtedly were integral in saving numerous lives and putting a stop to what could have been more tragic than it is.”
“I mean, it’s just absolutely insane to be in a situation like this, especially in my town, Roseburg,” he said. “This is a really small community and just something of this magnitude happening here is just very rare and just unheard of.” (RELATED: Army Vet And Double Amputee Noah Galloway Just Proposed On ‘Dancing With The Stars’)
Skarlatos had been in rehearsals for the dancing competition when he found out about the shooting. Though none of his friends were injured, ABC bought him a flight home immediately so he could be with his friends and family, TMZ reports.
“My heart and prayers go out to this community, my community, right now.”
Skarlatos and two others were awarded medals after they stopped a man with an automatic rifle and box cutter who began shooting on a Paris-bound train in August. (RELATED: US Soldiers Take Down AK-Wielding Gunman On High-Speed Train To Paris)