Alek Skarlatos, the Army National Guard Specialist who helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August, has rushed back to his hometown in Oregon after the mass shooting there on Thursday.
Skarlotos, who is currently starring on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, was enrolled last year at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He had been registered for classes on this week on campus, but postponed his education to appear on TV.
“If I didn’t get called for Dancing With The Stars I would’ve been on campus,” he told Good Morning America on Friday.
Skarlotos has already proved he’s willing to risk his life to rush an armed attacker. When asked whether he would have done the same had he been at Umpqua Community College, he said: “I would have tried, anyway.”
Skarlatos, 22, told PEOPLE on Thursday: “I was enrolled as a student at Umpqua Community College prior to my 2014 deployment to Afghanistan. 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. I wish that I could have been there today to assist.”
Skarlatos within an hour of learning the grim news, he booked to flight to return home.
“I was actually in the studio with Lindsay dancing and I got a text from one of my friends. I was just in total shock. I just sat down for a second and hid in the bathroom so the cameras couldn’t see me,” he told GMA. Skarlatos also tweeted en route, asking people to “send thoughts and prayers to the families.”
Skarlatos’ father, Emanuel Skarlatos, told PEOPLE in August that his son is dedicated to helping others, and wanted to become a police officer, which is why he enrolled at UCC in the first place.
“He thinks the world should be just. He’s for the underdog and the weak,” Emmanuel said.
Fortunately for Skarlatos, none of his friends were hurt in Thursday’s shooting.
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