France hails ‘hero with a backpack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children

The 24-year-old Catholic pilgrim from France, Henri, was carrying a heavy backpack as he swung his blade to fend off and attack his assailant — rather than run, he held his ground. But the attacker, using the knife that he savagely stabbed another young child with, slashed at Henri. (AP) LE PECQ.

Two grown-ups were additionally harmed and four youngsters between the ages of 22 months and 3 years of age were seriously injured during the stabbing incident, in which Henri was seen wrestling with the attacker and pursuing him in a video. French media praised Henri as “the courageous individual with a backpack” on Friday.

Henri, who is currently on a nine-month hitchhiking and walking tour of France’s cathedrals, happened to be in the Alpine town of Annecy when the attacker rampaged through the lakeside park on Thursday. Despite the chaos, Henri was able to witness firsthand the swift actions of the French leader, who thanked and personally expressed gratitude to the firefighters, police workers, medical personnel, and other individuals whose quick actions helped save lives. Additionally, Henri toured hospitals to meet with the victims and their families, including civilians, and expressed his personal words of gratitude.

“You have endured incredibly challenging moments, distressing,” Macron expressed. “I am extremely proud of you.”

In the upcoming year, after the restoration of the cathedral that was harmed by a fire in 2019, Henri requested Macron’s invitation to attend the grand reopening ceremony of Notre Dame in Paris.

“I will personally handle it,” responded the French leader.

Macron expressed that the doctors were highly assured that the two cousins, who were the most severely injured children, had been stabilized and received positive updates regarding the victims. After discussing their injuries with the doctors, he conveyed hope that there would be further improvement in their condition. The president made this statement.

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Macron stated that his left elbow remains wrapped in a bandage, amidst the numerous individuals he encountered and expressed gratitude towards. The second injured adult, who was discharged from the hospital, was among them. Macron also mentioned that an adult with critical injuries is gradually regaining consciousness. This individual was both stabbed and shot by the police during the apprehension of the suspected attacker. Additionally, a Dutch girl who was wounded has shown signs of improvement. Macron further revealed that a British girl, who sustained injuries, is now awake and engaging with first responders while watching television.

Macron expressed his profound gratitude for your immense bravery. The initial information conveyed by the doctors was that the prompt action taken by the entire group played a crucial role in saving these children.

Henri appeared while carrying all his backpacks again, picking up another take to swing and pointing it at the assailant, who appeared to hurl one at him. Despite the chilling aggression of the attacker and the blade, Henri continued to pursue him, harassing him inside the playground where he repeatedly stabbed a child in a stroller. However, when the attacker slashed at him, Henri was holding another in his hand while also carrying a heavy backpack.

Henri stated that his Catholic belief was the driving force behind him.

“He informed BFMTV, a French media outlet, that one can engage in actions without excessive contemplation about one’s own existence, with the intention of rescuing the lives of children, especially when one is aware of God’s love and the fact that He has rescued our lives.”

François, the father of Henri, said that he believed his son’s doggedness helped dissuade the attacker from stabbing more victims before the police wrestled him to the ground.

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“He displayed immense bravery,” the father informed The Associated Press. “He averted tragedy by frightening the assailant away, I believe. In order to prevent him from returning and inflicting further harm on the children, he persistently pursued him for a considerable amount of time. Despite being unarmed and carrying only his backpacks, he undertook numerous risks.”

François asked that their last name not be published, as they inadvertently and suddenly found themselves thrust into the public eye during a time of outrage and shock in France, expressing their concerns about their family being attacked with a sense of helplessness and viciousness towards the young victims.

The lax controls on migration quickly became the subject of political arguments among critics on the far-right and right of French politics. The debate about French migration policies was also reignited by the profile of a 31-year-old Syrian political refugee, who is suspected to be the attacker.

Henri, on his part, refused to accept the title of “hero”. He emphasized that all French citizens should act, or be willing to act, as he himself “attempted to do”.

“At that instant, you disconnect your mind and respond somewhat like a creature by instinct,” he expressed.

He stated, “I am not the only one who responded.” “In an attempt to intimidate him, deter him, numerous individuals nearby also began, like myself, to pursue him. And to attend to the wounded, additional individuals promptly approached the children.”

Government spokesperson Olivier Veran stated that psychiatrists are currently assessing him. The suspect, who is a refugee in Sweden, remains in custody. The motives for the attack, which took place in a children’s playground, are still unexplained.

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Henri’s father recounted that the Syrian appeared to be incoherent, uttering numerous peculiar phrases in various languages, invoking his father, his mother, and all the deities.

The father informed the AP that, in short, he was influenced by an unknown force, but certainly influenced by foolishness.

Henri, who is documenting his pilgrimage around France on social media, said that he had set off to hitchhike to another abbey when he was confronted with a horrifying scene in front of him.

Henri said, “I had a reflex to start praying.” After the arrest, the first responders were seen treating the victims.

On Friday morning, Macron and his spouse visited the French Alpine city of Grenoble, where the 3-year-old British girl and two French relatives — a girl and a boy, both 2 years old — were promptly taken to a hospital.

The Annecy prosecutor’s office identified the fourth child as a 22-month-old Dutch girl. She underwent medical care in Geneva, located in the adjacent country of Switzerland.

He was trying to stop the fleeing attacker, said the police. “Get out of danger now,” he said, and he is from Portugal, according to the Portuguese foreign ministry. The seriously injured adult was treated in Annecy.

“For this display of courage and valor, we express our deep gratitude to him,” the ministry included.

According to French authorities, a decade ago, Sweden had already provided him with permanent residency and refugee status as the suspect had just been denied asylum in France.

The prosecutor, Bonnet-Mathis Line, stated that the man was armed with a folding knife. He did not appear to be related to terrorism, but the motives of the unknown man were unknown.

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