France is lauding a 24-year-old man as a hero after he bravely intervened, armed with nothing but a backpack, during a knife attack that left four children critically injured Thursday.
After a knife-wielding asylum seeker in France stabbed four children at a playground, a man identified only as Henri gave chase, reportedly using his heavy backpack to defend himself against the attacker’s blows, The Associated Press (AP) reported. (RELATED: Axe Attack At Daycare Leaves 4 Children Dead, 4 Injured)
“He took a lot of risks – when he wasn’t armed, with just his backpacks,” Henri’s father told The AP. “He didn’t stop running after him for many minutes, to stop him from coming back and massacring the kids even more. I think he prevented carnage by scaring him off. Really very courageous.”
Well-wishers laid flowers at the site in the French mountain town of Annecy where an attacker stabbed four toddlers, as a shocked nation paid tribute to a backpack-wearing student who tried to stop the assault https://t.co/eCx0R4qM1W
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 9, 2023
Henri’s pursuit of the 31-year-old Syrian refugee earned him the moniker “the hero with a backpack” by French media Friday, a label the young man dismissed.
“I am far from alone in having reacted. Many other people around started, like me, to run after him to try to scare him, push him away. And other people immediately went over to the children to take care of the injured. I remember there was also a municipal worker who arrived from the right with a large plastic shovel to try to hit him,” Henri told The AP.
Henri, who was undertaking a modern-day pilgrimage via a walking tour of France’s cathedrals, said he was simply in the right place at the right time. “All I know is that I was not there by chance. On my journey to the cathedrals I crossed paths with this man and I have acted instinctively. It was unthinkable to do nothing,” Henri stated, according to Reuters.
Four children and two adults were critically injured in the attack. The four children have undergone surgery for their injuries and are currently stable, The AP reported, citing a statement from French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne. However, government spokesman Olivier Veran, who is a former doctor, said two of the children remain in critical condition, according to the outlet.