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


Latest Canada & World News

  • Adopted and brought to U.S., South Korean man to be deported 37 years later

    World News CTV News
    SALEM, Ore. -- A South Korean man flown to the U.S. 37 years ago and adopted by an American couple at age 3 has been ordered deported back to a country that is completely alien to him. Source
  • Theft of $2,000 watch among hundreds of items stolen from government, accounts show

    Canada News CBC News
    Global Affairs is beefing up security around its collection of gifts presented to Canadian government officials after a thief made off with a valuable watch worth an estimated $2,000, CBC News has learned. The department says it does not expect to recover the watch. Source
  • Tiny dog needs life-saving surgery to remove a porcupine quill from its heart

    Canada News CTV News
    A rescued dog is fighting for its life after a violent encounter with a porcupine that left a quill stuck inside its heart. Hershey was out for a walk with her owner and some canine pals when she crossed paths with the prickly rodent. Source
  • Man, linked to organized crime, shot in car, crashes it into house [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A 44-year-old Burnaby man was blasted in a targeted shooting early Wednesday, causing his car to crash into a house in the 5900-block of Broadway. RCMP Sgt. Annie Linteau said police received multiple 911 calls about the shooting. Source
  • Sex and politics a potent mix

    World News Toronto Sun
    Sex and politics have always been bedfellows. Think of JFK, Pierre Trudeau, Bill Clinton. Try not to think of Anthony Weiner and his selfies. But never before have sex and politics commingled as explosively as in the current U.S. Source
  • Obama speaks with Turkey's president about ISIS fight

    World News CTV News
    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a rally in Gaziantep, Turkey, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. (Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP) Source
  • Donald Trump’s Hollywood star vandalized [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS First posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 02:32 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 02:47 PM EDT Source
  • Saskatoon mayoral candidate gets endorsement from Zach Galifianakis

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The most random endorsement of the 2016 mayoral campaign came just hours before polls closed, courtesy the star of The Hangover trilogy. From the side of a road in California, seemingly shooting the video himself, Zach Galifianakis urged Saskatoon voters to support Charlie Clark in his tight race with Don Atchison and Kelley Moore. Source
  • Trump: I’ll run America like my business

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — His presidential dreams increasingly in question, Donald Trump pushed his business empire to the centre of his political campaign Wednesday. Taking a break from battleground states, he made the case at his newest hotel that all Americans should look to his corporate record for evidence of how well he’d run the country. Source
  • Trial set for Red Deer woman accused of sexually assaulting four-year-old son [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    RED DEER, Alta. — A trial date has been set for a central Alberta woman accused of sexually assaulting her four-year-old son. The woman, who is 43, was arrested in June at a licensed daycare in Red Deer where she worked. Source