- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2015

“Dancing With the Stars” contestant Alek Skarlatos, best known for being one of three Americans who stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train in August, says he would have been on the Oregon college campus at the time of Thursday’s shooting if it weren’t for his involvement in the popular ABC show.

The 22-year-old Oregon Army National Guardsman said he was deeply saddened when he received news that the attack took place at Umpqua Community College, where he was enrolled for classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays before he accepted his dancing gig, TMZ reported.

“I would have been there today if I didn’t agree to do [DWTS],” he said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” alongside his DWTS partner, Lindsay Arnold. “I had classes picked out and everything.

“It’s a fairly small community college and, just the town in general, everybody knows each other, so with that many deceased, I mean, everybody’s going to know at least one person,” he said.

Appearing on “Good Morning America,” Mr. Skarlatos revealed that he was in a rehearsal for DWTS when he heard the news from one of his friends, Entertainment Tonight reported.

“I got a text from one of my friends telling me what had happened, so I looked it up on the Internet to confirm it and I was just in total shock,” he said. “I just sat down for a second and then hid in the bathroom so the cameras couldn’t see me.”

Mr. Skarlatos was then asked if he would have tried to take the gunman down if he was there.

“I would have tried anyways,” he said. “I mean, it’s just absolutely insane to be in a situation like this, especially in my town, Roseburg. This is a really small community and just something of this magnitude happening here is just very rare and just unheard of.”

Mr. Skarlatos and two friends — Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, 23, of California, and Anthony Sadler, 23, a senior at Sacramento State University — were hailed as heroes in August after thwarting an apparent terrorist attack and saving the lives of dozens of passengers aboard a Amsterdam-to-Paris train.

“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,” Mr. Skarlatos told Entertainment Tonight in a statement. “I wish that I could have been there today to assist. 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.”

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