Dancing with the Stars celebrity Alek Skarlatos also known for his efforts stopping a train attack in France in August, reportedly attends Umpqua Community College, where 10 students were fatally shot October 1. Alek was in Los Angeles rehearsing for Dancing with the Stars when he heard about the shootings and immediately called home, reports Gossip Cop.
On October 1, a gunman opened fire at the community college in Oregon, killing 10 people after confirming their religion and wounding several others. There’s been no word yet about why.
Before Skarlatos was deployed to Afghanistan, the Dancing with the Stars contestant attended the college and studied law enforcement, reports Gossip Cop. Alek also grew up in the area. It’s unknown whether he knew any of the victims.
According to Gossip Cop, Skarlatos was rehearsing with his Dancing with the Stars partner Lindsay Arnold at a Los Angeles location. After learning about the shootings, Skarlatos contacted his relatives and tweeted, “Everyone send prayers out to ucc.” He also notified Dancing with the Stars fans that he was “[h]eading home to roseburg [sic] tonight. Everyone send thoughts and prayers to the families.”
After the incident, Skarlatos released a statement, saying, “I was enrolled as a student at Umpqua Community College prior to my 2014 deployment to Afghanistan.”
The Dancing with the Stars celebrity referred to his heroic actions in France, confessing while he “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.”
In August, Alek and two friends were visiting Europe when a gunman threatened passengers on a train. Skarlatos and his friends quickly subdued the gunman, earning him laurels in France and an invite to join Dancing with the Stars.
In his statement to the media, Alek Skarlatos also expressed regret he wasn’t on the campus to assist, confessing, “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.”
He also said his “heart and prayers go out to this community, my community, right now.” The statement was released on Gossip Cop.
Following the shootings at his college, the Dancing with the Stars contestant appeared on Ellen to discuss the tragedy, reports the Mirror. During the episode of Ellen, Alek revealed how close the shooting hit home. If he hadn’t agreed to be on Dancing with the Stars, he would have been at the college on October 1, attending classes.
According to the Mirror, he told Ellen Degeneres that “I had classes in Snyder Hall,” which is the building in which the shooter began his deadly rampage. Alek explained that “it’s a fairly small community college and just the town in general everybody knows each other so with that many deceased I mean everybody’s going to know at least one person.”
During the interview, Ellen was speechless and searched for words as Alek confessed, “I would have been there today if I didn’t agree to do [Dancing with the Stars]. I had classes picked out and everything.”
The shooter, who was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, was shot dead by police during the tragic incident.
Accompanying Alek Skarlatos during his Ellen interview was his Dancing with the Stars partner Lindsay Arnold. The pair have performed well on Dancing with the Stars and have consistently been in the upper half of the pool of contestants, according to Gossip Cop.
[Image credit: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images]