Chris Norman, Belgium Train Hero: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Chris Norman

Chris Norman (far right) was one of the heroes who subdued the gunman. He is pictured here with Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, two Americans who subdued the gunman. Spencer Stone was injured stopping the attack and was in the hospital when the photo was taken.  (Twitter)

Chris Norman was one of four men who tackled a gunman on a train in Belgium, thwarting an attack that could have killed hundreds: the gunman had nine full magazines with at least 300 rounds. Norman, from Britain, helped three Americans subdue the gunman, even though the gunman kept fighting even after they tackled him to the ground. The train was traveling between Amsterdam and Paris, France, when the attack happened. Three people were injured on the Thaly train, including Spencer Stone, the first man to reach the gunman. Norman is a hero who risked his life to make sure the gunman couldn’t follow through on his plan.

Here’s what you need to know.


1. Chris Norman Is a British Consultant Living in France

Chris Norman is a British IT consultant living in France. The 62-year-old said he was on the same carriage where the attacks began, The Mirror reported.  At first he wasn’t sure what to do. He heard gunfire and looked up and saw a man standing with what appeared to be an AK-47, he said. The gunman was armed with a Kalashnikov, a handgun, and a knife.

Norman has two sons, is a grandfather to three, and has been married for 35 years, The Daily Mail reported. Right after the attack, he called his wife, Martine Leonardy, and told her he had a choice to either sit and get shot or get angry and do something. He chose to get angry.

The IT consultant was born in Uganda and raised in South Africa, according to The Daily Mail. He studied at The University of Reading and started his consultant business in 2012, which specializes in helping businesses in Africa. He said in a press conference that he’s ready to get back home and help his wife, who is caring for two of their grandchildren, France24 reported.


2. He Helped Tie the Gunman Up And Subdue Him

The video posted above shows the train moments after Norman and the three Americans had the gunman subdued and tied up. The video shows Stone applying pressure to a passenger’s neck to try to keep him from bleeding out. Norman said that when he first saw the gunman, his initial instinct was to duck down in his seat, NBC Los Angeles reported. But then he heard Skarlatos telling the other men to “get him.” Stone jumped up and ran forward, tackling the gunman. Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler followed. Norman quickly joined them, helping wrestle the gunman to the ground and get him under control. They used T-shirts to tie the gunman’s arms behind his back so he couldn’t resist or hurt anyone else.


3. He Was Awarded a Medal of Bravery And Will Receive a Legion d’Honneur Medal

Norman and the three Americans have already been awarded medals of bravery by the local mayor for stopping the attempted attack. Stopping the gunman wasn’t easy. Norman said that even after they had him on the ground, he lashed out with a knife or box cutter and cut Stone on the head, neck, and almost severed his thumb, NBC Los Angeles reported.

In interviews, Norman has been very humble about his role in subduing the suspect. He said that he was acting purely on survival instincts and had thought that since he was going to die anyway, he’d rather die doing something instead of hiding in a corner and being shot, ABC News reported.

Norman and the three Americans will also receive Legion d’Honneur medals from Francois Hollande, the president of France, during a ceremony on Monday. This medal is the highest honor that France awards. Two other men, a French citizen who tackled the gunman in the bathroom and a passenger who helped and was hit by a bullet, will also receive medals at a later date, The Telegraph reported.


4. The Gunman Was Under a Terrorist Watch

The gunman, who emigrated from Morocco and lived in Spain with his parents, was already under watch by at least three European counterterrorism agencies and classified as potentially dangerous, The Telegraph reported. He was sympathetic to ISIS, but it’s not known if the attack was connected. The 26-year-old man, named in reports as Ayoub el-Qahzzani, boarded the train in Brussels and started the attack shortly after crossing the French border, The Daily Mail reported. The Americans noticed the gunman before the attack began because he was acting suspiciously. After being subdued, the gunman pleaded for his gun back, according to The Daily Mail. There were 550 passengers on board the high-speed train.

The gunman was arrested at the train station in Arras and is in custody. One publication, El Pais, said the gunman was in Syria just before returning to Europe, according to The Daily Mail.


5. People Across the World Are Thanking Norman on Social Media

People across the world are profusely thanking Norman and three Americans who stopped the gunman. Here are just a few reactions on Twitter: