In the book 15:17 to Paris, to which Alek Skarlatos contributed, he candidly discussed his uneventful National Guard Afghanistan tour, comparing himself to a “mall cop.” One of his assignments was to assure the local cleaning crew didn’t steal toilet paper.
He admitted major blunders: Almost stepping on an unexploded mortar shell. Taking target practice on a derelict Soviet-era tank with .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds and narrowly avoiding killing numerous children. Irresponsibly losing his high-security GPS device that could have caused him and his superiors to lose rank.
With his childhood friends and others, Skarlatos helped disarm perhaps Europe’s most inept would-be terrorist. His buddy Spencer subdued the jihadist. Clumsily assisting, Skarlatos could have easily killed both, including his friend in the process, but for the Moroccan’s AK-47 misfiring. Skarlatos then endangered himself and other passengers by walking through the train with the rifle, fortunately not encountering any armed law enforcement passengers, or there might have been a calamitous shootout.
I asked Skarlatos if Chris Harper-Mercer, killer of nine at Umpqua Community College, should have possessed guns? Skarlatos didn’t know his name, faulting Harper-Mercer’s “irresponsible” mother, though Harper-Mercer purchased some firearms he used. Skarlatos naively contended if everyone could carry guns, that would have prevented massacres, claiming prohibitions wouldn’t help. Skarlatos said he always carried at UCC, last attending in 2014.
Skarlatos’ stump speech champions deforestation, with him not vaguely understanding the causes and consequences of anthropogenic global warming.
Over 100 attended Skarlatos’ Florence outdoor speech: Only three, including me, wore masks.