Europe 1 14:36, 09 June 2023

As he travels the France to tour the cathedrals, Henri, 24, crossed the road of the alleged perpetrator of the knife attack in Annecy that injured six including four children Thursday morning. He pursued him and tried to disarm him until the police arrived. Guest of "Europe Midi" Friday, he tells.

He is the one called "the hero with the backpack". Henri, 24, pursued the assailant of the knife attack that injured six including four children Thursday morning in Annecy. Guest of Europe Midi Friday, he tells what happened.

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"He had the look of a madman"

Shortly after 9:30 a.m. on the outskirts of the Jardin de l'Europe, a busy park on the shores of Lake Annecy, a man wearing black shorts, a blue scarf tied on his head, attacked a group of children with a knife on a playground. "I was walking in the Pâquier when I crossed the road of this madman. He had the look of a madman." Henri, who travels the France to tour the cathedrals, did not immediately understand that it was an attack. "I first believed in a snatching, then as soon as he attacked the children in the square, I unplugged the brain and I really acted by instinct, as any French would have done," he says modestly at the microphone of Europe 1.

"I tried to interfere as best I could with what I had, so my backpack. This man seemed to me inhabited by something very bad in him and I, internally, I was, really by instinct, pushed by something very powerful in me, "says this fervent Catholic. "To tell you, I really had a fixed idea during the action, I had the image of Colonel Arnaud Beltrame in mind," he says. Gendarme Arnaud Beltrame was murdered by a jihadist after taking the place of a hostage in Trèbes in March 2018.

"A great inner strength pushed me to do it"

"It was impossible for me to let this man act against these innocent and defenseless children. It's very mysterious to say but a great inner strength pushed me to do it, something very intimate pushed me to act," adds Henri.

Listening only to his courage, Henri chased the attacker into the park before the police arrived. Seeing the student trying to disarm the assailant, other people come to his aid. "I may have been the first to react but what is certain is that other people around me immediately mobilized. Other people ran with me behind the attacker. Other people immediately turned to the smaller ones to compress the wounds and prevent the wounds from getting worse," he says.

According to various testimonies, the assailant then tried to flee, wounding a man in his flight, before being arrested by police officers who opened fire, hitting an adult already wounded by the attacker.

>> READ ALSO - Attack in Annecy: the suspect subjected to a psychiatric examination to try to determine his motive

"It is our individual action that will save the country"

Without directly mentioning a direct influence, Henri says he did not cross paths with the alleged perpetrator of the attack by chance. "Perhaps my action has prevented an even greater tragedy, but perhaps it also has a symbolic significance which, today, I hope, will nourish souls and spirits and will continue to indicate to the French that in the face of attacks of this kind, we must above all raise our heads and refuse that evil does its work. It is our individual action that will save the country."

The 24-year-old says he has already forgiven the assailant. "What he did is completely beyond him. And what I have done is beyond me, beyond us completely. The message of all this is simply to say that as soon as we refuse that evil acts, we are able to act against evil," he concluded. Henri is expected to meet President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.