Around 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, a man armed with an assault rifle entered a convenience store in Riverside County, California with the intent to rob the store. However, he was no match for the store’s owner, 80-year-old Craig Cope, who quickly pulled out his shotgun and shot the would-be robber in the arm.
The entire incident was captured on newly-installed security cameras.
Cope noticed a black SUV pull up to his Norco Market & Liquor store while working behind the counter in the very early hours of the morning. He watched them on his surveillance system as three suspects exited the vehicle, leaving a fourth man inside the car as the getaway driver.
“I saw them getting out of the car in masks and with guns,” Cope later reported. “So, I figured what was going to happen. I just knew they were armed and masked and that they were coming in, so I was ready for them.”
In the surveillance footage, the armed gunman entered the store and pointed a rifle at Cope, yelling at him to freeze. Without hesitation, the 80-year-old pulled out his shotgun and fired at the robber.
“I got a long gun pointing directly at me,” recalled Cope. “It was either him or me and I was a little bit faster.”
Cope shot the robbery suspect in the arm, and the gunman can be heard screaming in the surveillance footage. “He was screaming that I shot his arm off,” said Cope.
The suspects quickly retreated to their getaway vehicle and sped off, almost leaving one of their crew behind. Cope can be seen monitoring his security cameras as the men leave in their car – which later is found to have been stolen.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, all four of the suspects showed up at a Southern California hospital where they were arrested and are currently beign held in jail on $500,000 bail.
Three suspects have been identified as Justin Johnson, 22, Jamar Williams, 27, and Davon Broadus, 24.
After the incident, Cope suffered a heart attack but it is reported that he will make a full recovery. The tough 80-year-old is already making plans to return to work at the store he has owned since 1967.
“It’s not going to be on my mind or keep me from doing anything,” Cope said. “It’s not going to change how I operate. I’m already alert and pay attention to my surroundings at all times.”
Norco in Riverside County, where the attempted robbery took place, is not a “high-crime area” according to Cope. “It’s not a good area for robbers to come,” said the store owner. “Many of the homeowners are conservatives and probably armed. These guys didn’t do their homework.”