In a video that went viral, 80-year-old convenience store owner Craig Cope brandished his shotgun to defend his Norco, California shop against multiple armed robbers — leaving one suspect screaming, “he shot my arm off!”
When asked by Fox 11 Los Angeles what he was thinking when the armed men entered his store, Cope said: “There wasn’t much time to think about it. The guy pointed a gun directly at me. I’m not going to give him the chance. If I recognize the weapon that’s a semi-automatic gun, the faster you can pull the trigger, maybe someone converted it to automatic, the equivalent to a machine gun, I’m not going to let him get the first shot off at that point.”
Cope added: “As far as here and my place, it wouldn’t do any good to call the local sheriff. They can’t get here that quick… I’m not waiting. When you point the gun directly at me and you’re that close to me and I see what you’re carrying, I’m not waiting.”
The incident, which was captured on the store's security cameras, happened at around 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning. Cope fired his shotgun in self-defense at the armed robber. The suspect was hit in the arm and fled the scene with four other suspects.
Sheriff's deputies said the 23-year-old suspect that Cope hit remains in critical condition.
During the run in with the attempted robbers, Cope, a father and grandfather, suffered a heart attack and needed three stents. He's now out of the hospital and back at work at the store.
According to Cope's wife, the shooting sends a message to criminals: "Stay out of Norco, because everybody in Norco has a gun."
Asked by local news if he had a message for fellow business people in his area and Southern California about the recent surge in crimes at convenience stores and liquor stores Cope said:
"Well, I think more people should vote and vote the right way, and I think the politicians...this isn't going to get me on the right side of a lot of people. But there's a whole lotta people out there, they got no clue what it's like to try to run a small business. And when they're letting people out...and we've got bad people, let's face it. There's bad people, bad people we don't need. We need to get them locked up because this is a scary situation when that happens. Everybody works hard. They got bills to pay. These guys are going to come in and take it away from you. Not here."