Not a month before he was stabbed multiple times on a Sacramento street, Spencer Stone was honored in the city’s hometown heroes parade.
Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler had waved from a float as a band played “God Bless America” and crowds cheered the brave trio who had rushed a terrorist gunman aboard a speeding French train in August.
When the moment came at the Sacramento parade for the three to step up to a podium and speak, Stone had gone last. He reminded everybody that the parade also honored those who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
“Let’s all just remember that,” Stone had said. “We live for each other and die for each other.”
As he stood there in his blue Air Force uniform, his left hand still bandaged from the struggle with the jihadi, Stone had seemed to embody the very best in us, the good that always rises to meet evil, be it at the World Trade Center or aboard a Paris express.
His fellow hero, Skarlatos, had planned to resume his studies at Umpqua Community College in the fall but had put that off after the train incident. That may have saved Skarlatos from encountering a gunman of another kind who killed nine people at the Oregon school last Thursday.
During that horror, the best in us manifested itself in the person of an Army vet named Chris Mintz who charged the gunman. Mintz was shot multiple times, but survived.
Once more, good had risen to meet evil.
In this world of too many horrors, it seemed that God really does bless America with brave and selfless souls such as Mintz and the three on the train.
And that is what made it so shocking when word came this most recent Thursday that Spencer Stone had been stabbed and seriously wounded during a street altercation in Sacramento.
By various accounts, Stone had been at the Badlands nightclub in midtown with another male and three young women. His group apparently got into a disagreement of some sort with at least two other young men.
Around 12:45 a.m., Stone and his friends emerged, as did the others. Surveillance camera footage shows that the dispute turned physical.
Stone took on two young men or more, essentially with one arm, his left not yet completely healed from when the terrorist on the train slashed him in a vain attempt to escape his grip. Stone was not heedlessly aggressive, but he was also not backing down. He danced as if the intersection of 21st Street and K Street were a boxing ring.
One of the opponents then turned pure coward and began swinging his right arm in a stabbing motion. A dark splotch appeared on Stone’s white shirt.
His opponents, described as two adult Asian males in jeans and white T-shirts, fled in a dark-colored Toyota Camry. A passerby called 911, and police responded along with fire department paramedics. They found Stone with four stab wounds to his chest.
For the second time in less than two months, Stone was hustled to an ambulance after an encounter with a knife. His injuries this time appeared to be so serious that the homicide detectives were notified.
This hero who had been invited with his two comrades to the White House and had been honored at a 9/11 parade in these same streets now seemed in danger of becoming a murder victim.
But whether it was because Stone is uncommonly tough or because the trauma team at UC Davis Medical Center is uncommonly skilled or both, his condition went from extremely critical to stable. The shock that accompanied the news that one of the train heroes had been stabbed was tempered by word that he is expected to survive.
There remained the fear that Stone might have fallen victim to some jihadi bent on revenge. Sacramento Deputy Police Chief Ken Bernard was quick to say this was not the case.
“This incident is not related to terrorism in any way, and we know it’s not related to what occurred in France months ago,” Bernard said at a press conference Thursday morning. “It’s believed to be related to a nightclub incident.”
As evening arrived, a police spokeswoman said there had been no arrests. The police tweeted a blurry still of the two suspects and asked for the public’s help in identifying them.
“That’s where we are with it,” the spokeswomen said.
Another tweet came from Skarlatos, the fellow hero who had attended Umpqua and would have been back there were it not for the trouble on the train.
“Spencer is one tough guy. And only he could have done something like that and lived, yet again.”