A young man who has been hailed as a “hero with a backpack” in French media attempted to stop a knife attack in Annecy that left four children seriously injured. Henri, 24 years old, was captured on video chasing the suspect and using his bag to fend him off. As a Catholic pilgrim, he has been travelling around France visiting its cathedrals and followed his instincts to “protect the weak” during the incident. President Emmanuel Macron met with Henri on Friday, praising his bravery and acknowledging the trauma he experienced.
Macron also visited the victims of the attack and commended the work of first responders. He mentioned receiving “positive” news about the condition of the four injured children. Two adults were also harmed in the attack. Footage showed Henri swinging his backpack at the attacker, who attempted to slash at him in response. Another video clip displayed him chasing the knife-wielding individual across a grassy area.
As the hashtag #MerciHenri gained traction online, Henri posted on Instagram, urging people to “pray for the children” and reassuring them that he was okay. He received messages of gratitude for his actions and his modesty. In an interview with CNews, Henri stated, “All I know is, I was not there by chance.” He added that he followed his instincts and did what he could to protect the vulnerable.
Henri, a management graduate who has not disclosed his surname, highlighted to BFMTV that he was not the only civilian who risked their safety during the incident. He believes he “acted like any French person would” and mentioned that he saw a park employee attempt to hit the attacker with a large plastic spade.
Henri’s father told the Associated Press news agency that his son’s actions likely prevented more people from being injured by the assailant, describing his son as “really very courageous.” Days before the attack, Henri had been interviewed by the Dauphiné Libéré newspaper about his nine-month tour of France’s cathedrals, which he planned to complete by walking and hitchhiking.
Regarding the suspect in the attack, who also claims to be a Christian, Henri said it was “profoundly unchristian to attack the vulnerable” and instead suggested that “something very bad inhabited him.”
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