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Youtube.com/FOX11LosAngeles - Facebook.com/FoxNews
Youtube.com/FOX11LosAngeles - Facebook.com/FoxNews

80-Year-Old California Man Fights off Armed Robber on His Own: 'This Isn't a Good Place to Pick'

Stephen Thompson
Aug 09, 2022
10:40 A.M.

An 80-year-old store owner proved himself a hero after defending his legacy from armed intruders in the wee hours of the night. Residents of the community commend his selfless act.

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Craig Cope, an 80-year-old man in Norco, California, surprised himself and the rest of the Norco community when he defended his liquor store against armed robbers on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

His bravery led to the capture of the gunmen, ridding the community of a handful of criminals. Additionally, it ensured the safety of the older man, his entire staff, and any potential customer who might have walked into the store during the robbery.

Cope in his liquor store. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

Cope in his liquor store. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

THE HEART OF A HERO

Cope first purchased his liquor store, Norco Market & Liquor, in 1976, which became a crucial part of his life over the years. Hence, when danger came looming, he knew he needed to do something to defend his legacy.

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On that fateful day, the older man was in his store monitoring the security camera when he spotted a black vehicle pull up in a dark spot, away from the usual parking lot.

This piqued the man's curiosity, leading him to observe them further. That's when he noticed armed men alighting from the vehicle, with their faces hidden behind masks.

Cope speaking in an interview. | Source: Youtube.com/FOX 11 Los Angeles

Cope speaking in an interview. | Source: Youtube.com/FOX 11 Los Angeles

As the reality of the situation hit him, Cope realized he had only a split second to decide what to do. The man decided to take the hero's way out in that split moment. He recalled:

"It was either him or me and I was a little bit faster."

A video from the incident showed one of the armed men forcing his way into the store and yelling "freeze." However, as soon as the words left the armed robber's lips, Cope responded by ringing a shot through the air in the man's direction, forcing him to flee.

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Cope holding his pistol. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

Cope holding his pistol. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

DANGER DEFLECTED

As the gunman left the store, he held on to his arm, screaming that Cope had shot his arm off. Another surveillance footage captured the robbers fleeing the property. The gunman who got shot ran towards the awaiting vehicle.

Still screaming and holding on to his arm, the others quickly ignited the engine and drove off as one of them scrambled to get into the backseat.

Asked how he managed to react so quickly without freezing in fear, Cope admitted he was indeed scared for his life but knew he needed to be ready after seeing the gun pointed at him. He shared:

"I'm not going to give him the chance."

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Cope speaking with a representative of FOX 11. | Source: Youtube.com/FOX 11 Los Angeles

Cope speaking with a representative of FOX 11. | Source: Youtube.com/FOX 11 Los Angeles

Cope's observant nature and quick thinking saved his long-running business from intruders. However, the adventurous escapade took a toll on the aged hero, who suffered a heart attack soon after the robbers left.

When emergency responders arrived, they found the heroic store owner in his ailing state and transported him to an area hospital. Cope has since come out of danger and recuperates in his Riverside home.

Cope attending to a customer. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

Cope attending to a customer. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

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OFFICERS HUNTED DOWN THE WOULD-BE ROBBERS

Cope's effort and cooperation led to the arrest of the armed robbers. After listening to the older man's account and seeing the surveillance footage from the cameras installed by the store owner, officers were able to track the three gunmen to a Southern California hospital.

One of them was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound sustained on his arm following Cope's attack. The injury was consistent with a shotgun blast that Cope's firearm could have inflicted.

People coming to Cope's store to patronize and encourage him. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

People coming to Cope's store to patronize and encourage him. | Source: Facebook.com/Inside Edition

The three men, identified as Justin Johnson, 22, of Inglewood, California, Jamar Williams, 27, of Los Angeles, and Davon Broadus, 24, of Las Vegas, are in police custody, held on a $500,000 bond.

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However, the 80-year-old hero had a message for other would-be criminals looking to rob his business. He said:

"This isn't a good place to pick."

The robbers trying to escape. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

The robbers trying to escape. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

THE COMMUNITY COMMENDED HIS BRAVE ACT

Officials from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department have lauded Cope's bravery, which helped prevent a violent crime while ensuring his safety. However, the older man believes he only did the needful in that situation. To him, the armed robbers were simply victims of their own miscalculations. He divulged:

"It [Norco] is not a good area for robbers to come."

Going further, the man explained that residents of the Norco community could defend themselves, making it a low-crime area, a fact Cope believed the robbers would know if they did their homework.

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Tamara Gibbins, one of Cope's employees. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

Tamara Gibbins, one of Cope's employees. | Source: Youtube.com/Inside Edition

Asked if robbers had targeted his store since its establishment, the older man declined to reply. However, he pointed out that no robbery occurred during his recent tenure as the store owner. He added:

"I would always protect my employees, my customers, myself. In this instance, fortunately, I was here by myself, so I only had to worry about that. I took care of it and that was that."

Meanwhile, other residents have stepped forward to thank Cope for his excellent job and commend his bravery. Tamara Gibbins, one of Cope's employees, dubbed him a local hero. Her thought reflects that of the other residents and business owners who appreciate his effort in ensuring the neighborhood had four fewer criminals lurking.

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