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Terror On The Tracks

Three childhood friends from the Sacramento area reunited in Europe last August for a three-week vacation. The buddies—two in the military, the third a college student—would return home international heroes after disarming a man who threatened a crowded Paris-bound train with an AK-style rifle. According to an Air Force news release, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone was dozing on the train when his friend, Alek Skarlatos, jostled him awake, warning about a man entering their car with an AK. Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman, urged Stone to rush the gunman.

“That’s when I got up and sprinted at him,” Stone said. It was a powerful tackle, but the man sliced Stone with a box cutter and nearly severed his thumb. Skarlatos, who had just returned from service in Afghanistan, and the third friend, Anthony Sadler, joined the fight. Also in the fray was British businessman Chris Norman. Together they disarmed the gunman of his rifle, a pistol and the box cutter, and subdued him. The three friends, all in their early 20s, and Norman received the Legion of Honour medal, France’s highest decoration.

“Actions like this clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave,” said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. The gunman, Ayoub El Kahzzani, 25, of Morocco, faces multiple charges of terrorism. “He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end,” Stone said. “So were we.”

Pastor Packs A Pistol

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Pastor Benny Hodges has been asked a lot why he didn’t just “turn the other cheek” early one morning last July, when he encountered a burglar at his church in Baytown, Texas. Police said in a press release that the 27-year-old burglar, toting a box of electronic gear from the church, came face-to-face with the pastor, who was there early for prayer. Hodges, however, a Vietnam vet, was armed with a 9mm pistol. He said the man made a threatening move, so he shot him in the shoulder.

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Hodges, 65, said that while waiting for police, he led the burglar in salvation-seeking prayer. The incident made national headlines, and Hodges got emails from disapproving pastors around the U.S. “They say, ‘Brother, maybe he just needed prayer.’ But just because I’m a pastor does not mean I am immune from protecting myself…King David protected the sheep on the back side of the mountain. I take care of the sheep…I chose to fight when that Goliath was standing in front of me.”

But despite Hodges leading the burglar in prayer, the man again made headlines a week later when he walked out of a Houston hospital and broke into a fast-food restaurant. He was cooking burgers when police arrived. “All I can do is keep praying for him,” Hodges said. “Then I got to go on to the next one who is lost.”

Knives To A Gunfight

A rural area in the hills above the Pacific Coast was rattled around 9 p.m. one Sunday last August when two men entered a woman’s home uninvited. Monterey County Sheriff’s officials told the Monterey Herald that the burglars brought knives to the address on Garrapatos Road, between Monterey and Big Sur, California. They threatened to rob and rape the woman, who is in her late 60s, but she wouldn’t have it. Sheriff’s officials said she grabbed a gun and the burglars fled.

Winning Odds

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Three men pounced on a man and woman who had just parked their car last August in southeast Las Vegas. “At that point, one of the suspects pointed a handgun at the female and demanded her purse,” police said in a press release. “The male exited the driver’s side door and drew his own handgun and fired several times, striking the suspect.” When police arrived, the suspect was “suffering from apparent gunshot wounds,” according to the release. Police added that the man was taken to the hospital, “but he succumbed to his injuries.”

History Of Violence

Residents were shocked to hear about the next-door violence in their usually quiet Jackson, Ohio, neighborhood. But early one morning in August, a 52-year-old man appeared uninvited at the home of his niece. Police told the Jackson County Times-Journal that the man attacked his niece’s boyfriend who was leaving the house. The fight moved from the living room to the front porch and finally to the front yard, where the boyfriend was later found dead with multiple knife wounds. The niece, who has a two-year-old daughter, shut the door and locked it, but her uncle burst through it. Gunfire erupted. The niece went to the hospital; the uncle went to the morgue. The baby was unhurt.

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Days later, investigators were still trying to figure out the uncle’s motives, but there was a documented history of violence between him, the niece and her boyfriend. The Times-Journal reported that there was another incident five months earlier. A grand jury subsequently indicted the uncle for aggravated robbery, sexual battery and abduction. There were warrants for his arrest, but police didn’t catch up with him until it was too late.

Aiding An Officer

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Robert LeDoux pulled over to ask about the commotion up ahead near the intersection of Highway 14 and Fruge Street in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Other motorists on that Sunday afternoon in August said it looked like a state trooper had been shot. Colonel Mike Edmonson, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, later told the Associated Press that LeDoux sped to the scene. He then jumped out and tackled the man standing over Senior Trooper Steven J. Vincent, a 13-year veteran. The other motorists followed and used the trooper’s handcuffs to bind the shooter, 54-year-old Kevin Daigle. Vincent, 44, died at the hospital.

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A dash-cam video from Vincent’s patrol car showed Daigle shooting the trooper with a shotgun. Vincent had stopped to investigate a truck in a ditch—a truck that reportedly had been moving erratically through traffic. Daigle, who had a history of drunk driving convictions, was charged with first-degree murder of a police officer, according to a State Police news release. Colonel Edmonson said, “Troopers bravely embark each day across the state to serve and protect the citizens of Louisiana.” But, he added, the men who rushed to help Vincent weren’t just good Samaritans; they were heroes.

Repeat Offender Stopped

An Illinois store clerk used deadly force to protect himself and a customer one Sunday evening. The incident happened in the village of Wauconda, about 45 minutes northwest of Chicago. Police told reporters that a masked gunman entered the Kwick Shop on Liberty Street and demanded money. The 24-year-old clerk said he was reaching beneath the counter for the safe, but instead he went for a semi-automatic pistol, the clerk’s brother told the Chicago Tribune. The clerk fired at the masked man, who was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said. Police learned later that the robber was a 30-year-old man on parole for a 2011 armed robbery conviction. The clerk, meanwhile, was “in shock,” according to what his brother told the Tribune. But, the brother added, with the help from family and friends, “he should be okay.”

Deadly Visitor

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A West Virginia woman agreed to meet a man last July after connecting with him on a classified advertising website. But he was no gentleman upon arriving at her Charleston apartment. A police investigator told Fox News that he leveled a 9mm handgun at her chest and declared that she was about to die. Despite the threat, the woman put up a fight. The hysterical woman cried on a 911 recording posted by Fox that, “He set the gun down…and I grabbed it, and I shot him.”

Police said the attacker was Neal Falls of Eugene, Oregon. The contents of his vehicle also alarmed police. Inside were axes, knives, handcuffs, jugs of bleach and even a bulletproof vest. Lt. Steve Cooper told Fox that, “Based on the sheer nature of the attack Mr. Falls bestowed upon the victim and based on the items that we recovered from his vehicle…we believe that it is likely that he has been involved in similar crimes.” As summer wore on, police across the nation were investigating Falls in relation to unsolved murders of women in their communities.

Brought To Justice

A homeowner heard a thump in his backyard one night on the east side of New Orleans. There had already been plenty of excitement that night in the neighborhood, a few blocks from the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. About a half-mile south of the man’s home, two carjackers stole a tow truck, police said in a press release. A member of the New Orleans Police Department’s Violent Crime Task Force got the call, spotted the truck and gave chase. The suspects “exited the vehicle and fled into the neighborhood,” according to the release. A perimeter was then established.

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Residents told officers that they saw one man escape, but the other was probably nearby. And then the homeowner heard the “thump.” Police said he grabbed a shotgun, and when he went outside, “the suspect stood up and placed his hands in the air.” The homeowner then “escorted” the 17-year-old suspect to the police perimeter. He was arrested for carjacking, flight and resisting an officer, illegal possession of a stolen vehicle, reckless driving and criminal trespassing.

Neighbor Vs. Neighbor

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A Sunday-night squabble resulted in a shootout last July in Cincinnati, landing a 62-year-old man in the hospital, and then the jail. Police told Fox19 that the man was arguing with a woman on Holland Drive. When her brother walked over, the man pulled a gun and opened fire. The brother, a concealed-carry license holder, shot back, wounding the man in the leg. But the belligerent man wasn’t finished. He went back into his house and emerged with a second gun. The man then shot at the woman and her 1-year-old son, but her brother put down cover fire as everyone ran for safety. Police subsequently arrested the neighbor. He was treated for the leg wound and was then taken to jail and charged with four counts of felonious assault, Fox19 reported.

Dangerous Work

Three men tried to rob a convenience store last July in southwest Houston, but two did not survive, according to police. The trio entered the Super K on Beechnut Street early on a Monday evening. One of the men pistol-whipped a 37-year-old clerk, but a co-worker, age 57, shot the attacker and then shot a second robber, police said in a news release. All the robbers then fled in a tan sedan. The two wounded men were dropped off across the street from a nearby hospital, but they died from their injuries, police said. Investigators continued searching for the third man and the driver of the getaway car. The store’s owner told KTRK Channel 13 that a clerk had suffered a beating in an earlier robbery and could no longer work. The owner subsequently decided to arm his employees because their work is “so dangerous.”

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