Alek Skarlatos, who is on this season of Dancing with the Stars, would have been at Umpqua Community College the day of the tragic shootings if he had not accepted the television gig.
Entertainment Tonight reports that Skarlatos, also known for stopping a train attack in France in August, attends Umpqua Community College. Alek has reportedly left Dancing With The Stars to visit his friends and family in the small Oregon town.
On October 1, 10 students were killed and more were injured after a gunman, identified as Chris Harper Mercer, went on a shooting rampage on the Umpqua campus. Although he was supposed to be on campus that day, Alek had accepted a gig on Dancing With The Stars, and was in Los Angeles that day rehearsing.
After Skarlatos got “a text from one of my friends telling me what had happened,” he “looked it up on the Internet to confirm it,” Skarlatos said on Good Morning America according to Entertainment Tonight. After learning the tragic news, Alek said he “was just in total shock. I just sat down for a second and then hid in the bathroom so the cameras couldn’t see me.”
On the Good Morning America appearance, Skarlatos confessed that he had classes picked out for this semester. Alek also revealed that before he was deployed to Afghanistan, the Dancing with the Stars contestant took classes at the college, where he studied law enforcement.
After talking to his family, Alek Skarlatos tweeted, “Everyone send prayers out to ucc,” and said he was “[h]eading home to roseburg [sic] tonight. Everyone send thoughts and prayers to the families.”
Due to the media attention he was getting because of his association with Dancing With The Stars, Alek Skarlatos released a statement which confirmed “I was enrolled as a student at Umpqua Community College prior to my 2014 deployment to Afghanistan.” The statement appeared on Gossip Cop.
While referring to his heroic actions in France, Alek confessed that 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.”
Alek Skarlatos confided in the statement that he wished “that I could have been there today to assist.” He also praised “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.”
Letting his town know his “heart and prayers go out to this community, my community, right now,” Alek let his community know he grieves with them.
Skarlatos also appeared on Ellen to discuss how close he came to the tragedy, reports the Mirror. On Ellen, Alek revealed that if he hadn’t agreed to be on Dancing with the Stars, he would have been on the campus October 1.
Alek confessed that “I had classes in Snyder Hall,” which is the building in which the shooter began his deadly rampage. Skarlatos also explained that he likely knows some of the victims.
“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.”
Alek Skarlatos confessed to a speechless Ellen that he “would have been there today if I didn’t agree to do [Dancing with the Stars]. I had classes picked out and everything.”
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