U.S. Air Force airman Spencer Stone, one of the three Americans who thwarted an August train attack in France, was stabbed several times during a fight outside a Sacramento bar early on Thursday and was hospitalized in serious condition, police said.
The fight was not related to Stone’s role in taking down the gunman on a train headed to Paris and there was no connection to terrorism, Sacramento Deputy Police Chief Ken Bernard told a news conference. Stone’s assailant, who has not been caught, is not believed to have known Stone’s identity, Bernard said.
Bernard would not say what caused the fight that led to “significant injuries” to Stone, who was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
“At approximately 1 a.m., Airman First Class Stone was involved in a stabbing incident in Sacramento,” Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said in a statement.
Police said the altercation began outside a bar in the California capital’s midtown district, a gentrifying area with many popular clubs, restaurants and art galleries that still retains some rough edges.
“This incident is a very unfortunate altercation between two groups of folks who were enjoying the nightlife in midtown Sacramento,” Bernard said.
Stone and two friends, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, who is part of the Oregon Army National Guard, subdued a gunman on a high-speed train bound for Paris in August, winning accolades from the presidents of France and the United States.
The three men, who grew up in the Sacramento area, were touring Europe, partly to celebrate Skarlatos’ return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, when they took down the man armed with a box-cutter, a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle.
They were feted back home in Sacramento with a parade.
After the fight on Thursday morning, police initially did not believe Stone would survive, but doctors were able to control his bleeding, the Sacramento Bee reported. The medical center said on Thursday Stone was in serious condition.
Bernard said police had not yet asked Stone whether he had been drinking before the altercation. Bernard said Stone was out with four friends, a man and three women, and his companions had been drinking.
The other group consisted of two or three people who fled the scene in a gray or black Toyota Camry and have not yet been apprehended, Bernard said.
“Everybody send prayers out to the Stone family today,” Skarlatos said on Twitter.
Stone, who works in a medical unit, was recently transferred to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento and has been slated for a promotion to staff sergeant, Air Force spokeswoman Captain Brooke Brzozowske said.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago,; Editing by Will Dunham and Dan Whitcomb)