80-year-old store owner speaks out after shooting in attempted robbery

An 80-year-old shop owner talked about shooting an armed robber who pointed an AR-15 at him.

“It was him or me,” insisted the store owner.

Craig Cope was seen on surveillance video pulling out a shotgun at the Norco Market & Liquor store in Norco, California, and blowing up the shooter.

“There wasn’t a lot of time to think about it, the guy pointed the gun right at me and then it was either him or me,” Cope told FOX11.

“I wasn’t going to give him a chance. I recognized it as a semi-automatic, and maybe someone converted it to an automatic, the equivalent of a machine gun, but I won’t let you fire the first shot at that moment.”

Asked what his advice was to other would-be thieves, he smiled and replied, “This is not a good place to choose.”

Cope told the news outlet he blamed politicians for allowing career criminals to be put back on the streets and said business people and authorities were struggling to deal with the “crime wave”.

Police say four male suspects in a black BMW SUV attempted to rob the store around 2:45 am on Sunday. The video showed a male suspect in a red and black sweatshirt and balaclava entering the store and pointing his gun at Cope.

“When I saw them get out of the vehicle with gloves, masks and a gun that solidified the deal for me, I knew what was coming,” he said.

“It wouldn’t do to call the local sheriffs, they can’t get here that fast. From the moment I saw him go around the side of the building and through the door it was 10 seconds, and from him pointing the gun at me it was half or three quarters of a second.

“I’m not waiting. When you point that gun right at me and I see what you’re carrying, I’m not expecting it.”

Cope said he grew up in Illinois and, as a boy, used a rifle to hunt small animals.

“I put a lot of food on the table regularly. Ammo was expensive and when you have to pay for it you don’t want to miss out. It’s still true – don’t miss it.”

In video of the incident, the alleged thief he shot can be heard shouting “He shot my arm” as the man returned to the getaway car.

The suspects were then tracked to a Southern California hospital, with one of them sustaining an injury consistent with a gunshot wound.

Police say the other three suspects were found at the hospital in the getaway vehicle, which had been stolen.

Investigators say the vehicle contained a number of stolen weapons.

Justin Johnson, 22, of Inglewood, Jamar Williams, 27, of Los Angeles, and Davon Broadus, 24, of Las Vegas, were arrested in the hospital parking lot and taken to the Robert Presley Detention Center for theft and conspiracy.

Authorities say the main suspect, who has not yet been identified, is a 23-year-old man who remains in hospital in stable condition. He will be arrested and charged after his discharge.

Cope suffered a heart attack after the attempted robbery and was taken to hospital for treatment, but says he is “feeling much better”.

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