A West Midlands teenager has been hailed for his bravery as he tried to save his granddad from a gunman who rampaged through a beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia in 2015. Owen Richards, then 16, witnessed the death of his grandfather Patrick Evans, 78; uncle Adrian Evans, 49; and brother Joel Richards, 19. They were among 38 killed by Seifeddine Rezgui on 26th June 2015.
Gunman Rezgui was also killed.
Owen told an inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice how he and his family had arrived for a "boys' holiday" at the resort only hours before the attack took place. The holiday was organised to celebrate Owen completing his GCSEs and the group had been to the same place — 5-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel — several times before, including once when Joel completed his own GCSEs.
Owen said the group were seated beside the outdoor pool when they heard shots from the beach. They decided to go back to the hotel but as they went to the indoor pool, Rezgui rounded a corner.
"On the way granddad kept falling over so he was not very fast," Owen said in a statement. "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."
Evans then fell to the floor as the gunman approached. "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. 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. Granddad just said, 'he's got me'."
Owen went on to describe how he tried to rouse his older brother but saw there was no life in his eyes. 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 Richards described to the court her grief at losing her father, her brother, and her son. "They arrived in Tunisia late on Thursday evening," said Suzanne, ITV reports. "Within 12 hours my dad, my eldest son and my brother were killed. Thankfully Owen survived. 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."