ROSEBURG, Ore., Oct. 2 (UPI) — Dancing with the Stars contestant Alek Skarlatos is opening up about his time attending Umpqua Community College and his regret that he could not be there to help out during the mass shooting.
The 22-year-old Army National Guard Specialist, who became an international hero after helping to foil a mass murder plot aboard a France commuter train, had to put his Dancing with the Stars rehearsals on hold after he heard of the terrible tragedy at the school that left 10 dead and seven injured.
“I was enrolled as a student at Umpqua Community College prior to my 2014 deployment to Afghanistan,” Skarlatos said in a statement. “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,” said Skarlatos.
“I wish that I could have been there today to assist. I praise the first responders who were on the ground today in Roseburg as they undoubtedly were integral in saving numerous lives and putting a stop to what could have been more than tragic than it is. My heart and prayers go out to this community, my community, right now.”
Skarlatos later tweeted that he was on his way back to Oregon.
“Heading home to Roseburg tonight. Everyone send thoughts and prayers to the families,” he wrote.
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show show Thursday, Skarlatos noted how he could have been on campus were he not competing on Dancing with the Stars.
“I mean I would have been there today if I didn’t agree to do this show, he said referring to DWTS. “I had classes picked out and everything.”
President Barack Obama also expressed his sorrow and frustration regarding the deadly campus shooting and reiterated his belief that gun laws in the United States need to change to avoid incidents like the one in Oregon.