Machete-attack hero describes the fight: 'He was swinging to kill'

FREDERICTON -- The bloodshed began with a knock on the classroom door.

James Raoul was among about 15 students in an Eastern College criminology class around 8:30 a.m.

See Full Article

on Jan. 20, 2014, when fellow student Luke Powers arrived late.

"There was a knock at the door. It was him. He had a bag. He mumbled something. He took the machete out of the bag and came at me," Raoul said Friday, as he prepared to be decorated on Monday by Governor General David Johnston for his actions in the ensuing attack.

Raoul, a 31-year-old former soldier and father of two boys, likely saved his instructor's life as Powers swung the machete savagely around the classroom.

"There was a lot of blood. Bad wounds. He was swinging to kill. But she blocked it," said Raoul.

He and another Eastern College student who helped subdue Powers, Sylvain Pedneault, will be among 31 Canadians given Medals of Bravery for acts of heroism.

In his first interview since the attack, Raoul said Powers had been a friend. The two had trained briefly together in the Forces before Powers was medically discharged after an injury, and Raoul tried to look out for him when they found themselves at Eastern together.

"If anything, I would say I was his only friend in the world. Once we started school together, I reached out."

Raoul, who is originally from Sydney, N.S., said he usually picks Powers up on the way to school, but Powers had told him that morning he'd meet him there.

When Powers arrived and pulled out the 16-inch machete, he went directly at Raoul, who was sitting four seats back.

"Had I not put up my hands, I don't know what damage would have been done."

The teacher yelled at Powers to stop, and he immediately turned and ran at her. He was athletic and fit, and started swinging the machete at her.

"He almost cut off her hand," said Raoul, who was dazed and bloody from his own wounds but ran to help her.

"He managed to hit her a couple times before I realized what was happening and got out of my seat."

Raoul said he knocked Powers hard into a corner by pushing a long table into him, and then flipped the table at him. Raoul grabbed the arm holding the machete and threw Powers against one wall, then another, before the pair fell to the ground and rolled out to the hallway.

"It was intense. I was bleeding and it was all over my face and starting to get hard to see."

Pedneault, who was in a nearby classroom and heard the yells for help, jumped in. Once Powers was pinned, Raoul took off his shirt to clean the blood from his face and put pressure on the wound on his forehead.

Pedneault was bitten during the struggle, and has other cuts to his hand too. But the instructor - who Raoul said was "the best I ever had" - suffered the most injuries, with wounds to her hand, arms, and the back of her head.

"The poor lady had her life ruined by this attack, and my heart breaks for her."

The drama lasted no more than two minutes, and Raoul said two years later he still doesn't know why it happened. Powers pleaded guilty to three charges, but was found not criminally responsible in April, 2014. He is confined to a psychiatric hospital.

"Do I agree with it? No," Raoul said of the not-culpable finding. "Do I have to live with it? Yes."

"What his motives were, only he knows."

A friend theorized that Powers, who was also carrying a knife, intentionally targeted the biggest guy first in a room full of young smaller females and small men.

"Had he taken me out, the rest would have been easy pickings."

Raoul is now unemployed, and said he is looking for work but it is difficult in New Brunswick when you're not bilingual.

"I'm a veteran, so I get priority hiring. I'm scouring the job banks."

On Monday, he and Pedneault will get the Medal of Bravery in a ceremony at the Citadelle of Quebec.

By Rob Roberts in Halifax



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Pompeo downplays possibility of summit with North Korea

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the possibility of another summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the U.S. presidential election, saying Trump would only want to engage if there were real prospects of progress. Source
  • Newly released video shows distraught George Floyd moments before his death

    World News CTV News
    MINNEAPOLIS -- Body-camera footage made public Wednesday from two Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd's arrest captured a panicked and fearful Floyd pleading with the officers in the minutes before his death, saying "I'm not a bad guy!" as they tried to wrestle him into a squad car. Source
  • Trump replaces campaign manager amid sinking poll numbers

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump shook up his campaign staff Wednesday amid sinking poll numbers less than four months before the election, replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with veteran GOP operative Bill Stepien. "I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager," Trump said on Facebook. Source
  • China says progress made in latest border talks with India

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- China and India made progress in their latest talks on a long-running border dispute that turned deadly last month, a Chinese spokesperson said Wednesday. Top commanders from the two sides held their fourth round of talks on Tuesday, a month after the deadly clash between their soldiers in the Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China. Source
  • Maine to use ranked voting for president after repeal fails

    World News CTV News
    AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Maine voters are poised to become the first group of voters in U.S. history to be able to use a ranked style of voting for president, following a ruling by the secretary of state Wednesday. Source
  • Ex-officer in Hawaii sentenced for making man lick urinal

    World News CTV News
    HONOLULU -- A U.S. judge sentenced a former Honolulu police officer Wednesday to four years in prison for forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal, telling him to imagine someone doing that to his two young daughters. Source
  • U.S. sanctions companies linked to businessman close to Putin

    World News CBC News
    The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on companies connected to a Russian businessman who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and suspected of helping finance the covert social media campaign aimed at American voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Source
  • Megan Thee Stallion says she 'suffered gunshot wounds' and police drove her to hospital

    World News CBC News
    Rapper Megan Thee Stallion said Wednesday that she was shot multiple times on Sunday but expects to fully recover. "I suffered gunshot wounds, as a result of a crime that was committed against me and done with the intention to physically harm me," the 25-year-old Texan, whose legal name is Megan Pete, wrote in an Instagram post, without saying who shot her or why. Source
  • No Tokyo Games likely means no Beijing either, IOC's Dick Pound says

    World News CBC News
    If the postponed Tokyo Olympics do not go ahead next year due to COVID-19 then the 2022 Beijing Winter Games will likely also fall victim to the pandemic, said long-time International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound. Source
  • Alberta health minister directs doctors' regulatory college to stop doctors from leaving practices en masse

    Canada News CBC News
    Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro has directed the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to change its standards of practice for physicians by July 20 in an attempt to stop the province's doctors from leaving their practices en masse due to an ongoing dispute over pay. Source