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Friday, 14 January 2011

Train shooting eyewitness says he wrestled gun from suspect

Fri, 14/01/2011 - 11:52
Photographed by المصري اليوم

For Mahmoud Abdul Bassit Hamid, seeing the carnage of the recent train shooting in Samalout was like watching a movie. Back at home after the incident, Hamid tells how he grabbed the shooter’s gun and jacket, which helped police identify and arrest an off-duty policeman.

The shooting on the Cairo-bound train killed one Coptic Christian man and injured five other passengers.

“I was sitting in the first seat next to the car door,” Hamid told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “When the train stopped in the Samalout station, the suspect suddenly entered and looked at all the passengers. In one minute, the suspect started shooting randomly at the passengers. I did not know the number of casualties or the number of shots fired, but I was surprised when he pointed his weapon at me.”

Hamid said he grabbed the shooter, leading him to fire a bullet into the window of the ninth car of the train.

After the incident, Hamid spent his first day back with his family at home. He told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he was on the train heading back to Cairo from a visit with a relative in Assiut.

During interrogations he explained to detectives that he grabbed the suspect’s hand and was able to get hold of his weapon. Hamid then hit the shooter on the head with the gun.

When the shooter ran, Hamid said, “I ran after him and asked those present to catch him. But no one listened to me. A few minutes later the police arrived; they initially thought that I was the suspect, but after collecting a number of witness accounts, they realized that I was a witness and asked me to provide a statement.”

According to Hamid, police interrogated the suspect for six hours after they arrested him based on the identification found in his jacket.

“I did not believe myself when I saw the crime being committed and the passengers screaming and hiding under the seats,” he said. “It was like I was watching a movie. Suddenly, I realized that I was being shot at, and in a matter of seconds, I decided to grab a hold of the suspect.”

Hamid said newspapers reports that the suspect repeated phrases such as “Allah is great” were untrue. According to him, the suspect was silent and fired haphazardly during the shooting, which Hamid said lasted less than three minutes

“I thank God for returning me to my family and I am saddened by the death of a man who was sitting quietly by his wife,” he said. “I am also saddened by the injuries of Marianne and Magi. One of them was on her way to buy an engagement present with her fiancé and her family. I will not be able to forget what happened, and I thank God for being able to catch the suspect before he could fire on me or any other passengers.”

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