August 25, 2015
By Bill McKelway Richmond Times-Dispatch The Daily Progress
Family members of a former Midlothian man hailed as a hero for being the first passenger to grab an assault rifle from a gunman aboard the high-speed train headed from
Amsterdam to Paris say they are proud
of Mark Moogalian and anxious to learn more about his condition after being
shot while wresting the weapon Friday from Ayoub El-Khazzani.
The Telegraph of London reported that Moogalian, 51, who teaches English at the Sorbonne, tackled El-Khazzani during Friday’s train attack and grabbed his weapon before being shot through the neck. The attacker was then subdued by three vacationing Americans who have been cited for their heroism in the episode, as well as a Briton.
Moogalian, a graduate of
High School, is a member of a family
of Armenian descent with deep roots in Virginia.
Relatives operated a grocery for many years in the Hopewell area.
“We couldn’t be more proud,” said an uncle, Harry Moogalian. He said in an interview Monday morning that the family is still trying to sort out the sequence of events that left the author and musician shot and hospitalized. Moogalian said the family here is still awaiting word about his nephew's condition.
Moogalian's encounter with the gunman appears to be the first confrontation in the episode that was quelled by the three Americans and Briton who Monday were given France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, by President Francois Hollande.
Hollande acknowledged that Moogalian also intervened. Moogalian's wife told Europe-1 radio Monday that he, too, "is among the heroes in this story," the AP reported.
Isabella Risacher-Moogalian described hiding behind train seats from the attacker and then seeing her husband wounded. "He looked at me and said 'I'm hit, I'm hit.' He thought it was over and he was going to die," the AP quoted her as saying.
According to The Telegraph, Moogalian was hospitalized but doing well despite the ordeal.
The British newspaper quoted Moogalian’s sister, Julia, as saying the gunman was able to pull another weapon and shoot her brother, who suffered nerve damage as the bullet passed through his body.
According to The Telegraph, Moogalian made sure his wife was behind a seat before confronting the gunman and taking his weapon.
Moogalian's sister said "there's a video of him saying, 'help me' - he thought he was losing so much blood he would die." The newspaper reported on its website that Moogalian was doing well in the hospital despite the ordeal.
"We're extremely proud of him," the sister was quoted as saying.
Moogalian's uncle described his nephew as a a free spirit who recently authored a vaguely autobiographical novel called Mr. Farride about a man living on a houseboat on the Seine River in Paris, is married and teaches English at the Sorbonne.
“He has taken a much different path than much of the family and what he has accomplished has been very much on his own,” Harry Moogalian said.
An artist, sculptor and musician, Moogalian formed a duo called Secret Season with his wife, whom he married in 2003.
Moogalian’s father, now retired, was a senior scientist with Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co.
The family moved to
from Durham , N.C.
and Moogalian has written that rivers, the Eno in North
Carolina, the James in Richmond and
the Seine in Paris
have always been central to his life.
A short biography states that after travelling to
France he busked from London
taking in the culture and writing songs. He paints, sculpts, writes and plays
music for a living. “The trip to Europe was a
turning point in his life,” according to a short biography accompanying his
Moogalian was the founder of two musical groups in
Richmond, Look Like
Bamboo and Javaman. And his range of abilities as a musician stretches from the
guitar to the hand saw. Both musical groups were widely praised by area critics
for their musical ability.
Friends and family praised Moogalian on Facebook late Sunday.
“Please keep my cousin in your prayers. What courage,” Sheila Konis posted.
“Incredible act of bravery from former classmate
,” posted Caycee Poust Buscaglia. “Prayers
on speedy recovery!” Mark Moogalian
this morning, the three Americans and Briton were honored by Hollande. He said
that while two of the Americans who tackled the gunman were soldiers, "on
Friday you were simply passengers. You behaved as soldiers but also as
responsible men," according to an account by The Associated Press.
Hollande then pinned the medals on U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and their longtime friend Anthony Sadler. British businessman Chris Norman was also honored.
A French passenger was the first to try to stop the attacker and was also honored Monday, but he did not want his identity publicly known, Hollande said, who added "I understand" the decision.
August 25, 2015
French Train Attack: Hero American Teacher Mark Moogalian 'Would Give Anything for Anybody'
French President François Hollande noted the courage of Mark Moogalian, 51, originally from
Dr. Patrick Goldstein, director of the hospital emergency room, told reporters on Monday that Moogalian was being treated for a neck wound, three broken ribs and other unspecified injuries.
But she said her brother's attempt to wrestle down the Kalashnikov-armed gunman during Friday's attack on the
"Mark would give anything for anybody," Allen said. "He's just that kind of person."
Moogalian, who's lived in
"My husband told me that he had seen someone strange because he had entered the toilets with his suitcase and it lasted a long time," Moogalian's wife, Isabella Risacher-Moogalian, told Europe1 Radio on Monday. "A little while later, the guy came out, and that's when he saw that the guy was carrying a gun."
Moogalian told his wife to "go" and then "rushed toward the gunman to remove ... the Kalashnikov," Risacher-Moogalian said.
"I look at my husband through the seats at an angle, and he looked straight at me and said, 'I'm hit!' ... There was blood everywhere," she said. "I ran toward him, and I could see that he a wound on his back. I then saw another wound by his neck."
Allen told NBC News that it still wasn't clear when Moogalian would be able to leave the French hospital, which has added to the family's stress.
"It's been extremely emotional because he's an ocean away, and we cannot be there to give him our comfort and our love and our hugs" Allen said.
"The last time we saw our brother was just a few short weeks back," she said. "We did lose our mother, and we know she would be extremely proud of Mark."
An uncle, Harry Moogalian, told The Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch on Monday that his nephew was a graduate of
High School, near , where the family has deep roots. Richmond
"He has taken a much different path than much of the family, and what he has accomplished has been very much on his own," Harry Moogalian said.