YOUNG VOICES

Tunisia Terror Attack Survivor Owen Richards Tried To Shield Grandfather From Gunman During Shooting

'Owen behaved with extraordinary courage while trying to protect his grandfather.'

01/02/2017 18:11 GMT

A heroic teenager tried to shield his grandfather from the gunman during the Tunisia terror attack that also killed his brother and uncle, an inquest has heard. 

Owen Richards, who was 16 at the time, tried to help Charles Patrick Evans, 78, escape as extremist Seifeddine Rezgui hunted for victims in the five-star hotel in 2015.

But Evans, his 49-year-old son Adrian and his grandson Joel Richards, 19, were all shot dead within 12 hours of arriving in the Sousse beach resort, the Press Association reported. 

Nick Ansell/PA Wire
A court heard how teenager Owen Richards tried to protect his grandfather during the Tunisia terror attack 

They were among 38 people killed by Rezgui at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel on June 26 2015.

Inquests at the Royal Courts of Justice heard how the West Midlands family, who were enjoying the first day of a “boys’ outing”, fled from the pool after hearing gunshots. 

In a police interview in the UK, Richards said he and his brother Joel were in the pool when they heard what sounded like “firecrackers, but a lot deeper”. 

As guests began to flee, both teenagers ran to the older men, who were sat on sun loungers, before making for the hotel’s indoor pool.  

Richards told police: “On the way granddad kept falling over so he was not very fast.

“I saw the person running after us and he just came around the corner. Clearly we knew he had caught up with us.

“Ade (Adrian) dived down and laid down. I was still holding granddad, trying to help him run.” 

OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
Owen and his mother Suzanne observing a minute's silence at Walsall football club for his brother, uncle and grandfather 

As the gunman approached, Richards and his grandfather, known to his family as Pat, fell to the floor.

“I was hugging granddad on the floor and then I could see out of my right hand corner my brother and seeing him dive to the floor,” the teen said.

“Then Joel screamed - I think he shouted ‘no’ three times, like pleading him to stop.

“He lifted the gun up and I closed my eyes, then I heard a bunch of shots.”

Richards described seeing the elder Mr Evans was wounded before adding: “Granddad just said, ‘he’s got me’.”

Rezgui moved closer and shot Evans again at close range as Richards was still clinging to his grandfather.

Realising his brother was lying nearby, Richards said: “I hit his foot a few times, telling him to get up.

“You could see in his eyes that he was not alive - there was no life in his eyes.”

His uncle was also lying motionless a little further away. 

Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images
Owen's mother Suzanne said her family had been 'destroyed' by the terror attack

Richards ran to the neighbouring Soviva hotel before being taken in an ambulance for medical treatment for a bullet wound on his left shoulder. 

Gunman Rezgui was shot by police later that day. 

The coroner, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, said: “It seems to me Owen behaved with extraordinary courage while trying to protect his grandfather.” 

Owen’s mother Suzanne, who lost her eldest son, brother and father in the shooting, told the court the attack had “destroyed” her family. 

“There are three empty chairs every Sunday for lunch. Three empty chairs at Walsall (football club).

“We feel like we have been cut in half and will never get over what we have lost.”

Of her son, she said: “The world has lost a truly shining star.”