An 80-year-old California liquor store owner has called out politicians after his trigger finger helped him fight off armed robbers, claiming ‘I’m not going to let them shoot first.’
Craig Cope, 80, said the ‘crime rate is going up and will continue to go up until they start keeping the bad guys away’ after his shooting was caught on surveillance footage.
Although he refrained from ‘naming names,’ he said ‘there are many of them that cause serious problems for business owners,’ and complained that ‘most’ criminals are ‘career criminals, they need to be locked up.’
He said the way to prevent crimes like this from happening is to ‘put pressure on politicians because they didn’t know what was really going on here in the real world.’
Cope was inside his Norco Market & Liquor store in Norco, California just before 3 a.m. when he saw a gang of men with guns walking up to the door.
He said ‘there wasn’t much time to think about it’ as the 23-year-old entered the store armed with an AR-15, forcing Cope to fire his gun, hitting the man in the arm and sending the group scrambling. .
Video shows a 23-year-old man holding a gun at Norco Market & Liquor on Sixth Street in Norco at 2:47 a.m. on Sunday.
‘He shot my hand! He shot my hand off!’ the man can be heard yelling as he sped back to a black BMW SUV that deputies later said was reported stolen.
The store owner described the compulsion to act in an interview with Fox, saying ‘when you’re pointing a gun at me and you’re right next to me and I can see what you’re carrying, I can’t wait.’
Cope said the ordeal happened very quickly, estimating about 10 seconds from the time the men parked their car to the shooting, and less than a second to think when the man pointed his assault rifle during the attempted robbery.
“There are people who choose to be thieves, there are people who choose to be armed robbers,” he said.
Cope suffered a heart attack after the incident but says he doesn’t know what caused it and joked ‘maybe I’m old,’ but confirmed he is now ‘doing fine.’
The suspects were found a short time later at a local hospital, where one of the suspects, a 23-year-old man, was suffering from a gunshot wound consistent with a gunshot wound, according to a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department release. He remains hospitalized in serious, but stable condition.
Three other suspects were taken into police custody and taken to the Robert Presley detention center for robbery and conspiracy. They are being held on $500,000 bail.
This surveillance photo released by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department shows the suspect getting out of the stolen vehicle they were using with a large handgun.
Craig Cope, 80, opened fire when an armed robber stormed Norco Market & Liquor armed with an AR-15. The suspect was shot in the arm and fled the store. Cope then suffered a minor heart attack from the seizure
Cope said ‘when you point that gun at me and you’re right next to me and I can see what you’re carrying, I can’t wait,’ as he described his immediate thoughts when faced with the gun.
Deputies identified the suspects as 22-year-old Justin Johnson of Inglewood, 27-year-old Jamar Williams of Los Angeles and 24-year-old Davon Broadus of Las Vegas.
The 23-year-old man who was shot is in serious but stable condition. He has not yet been named.
Cope said the group yielded to some red flags he called suspicious, including not parking ‘where a normal person would park… on the side of a building where they’re basically out of sight.’ He said the gloves and masks they were wearing also put him on alert.
Deputies responded to reports of an attempted armed robbery around 2:47 a.m. at the store in the 800 block of Sixth Street in Norco, near San Bernardino.
Surveillance video revealed the suspects approached the business armed with long guns while wearing face coverings and hats. As soon as the first suspect entered, his gun was aimed, the store’s owner, Craig Cope, fired one shot from the gun, and the suspect fled the store.
They jumped into a black BMW SUV, which had previously been reported stolen. It was also found to contain several stolen firearms, deputies said.
Hitting the accelerator, the driver almost left one of the accomplices behind – he had to stop so that the last hooded attacker could jump into the car.
Back inside the store, Cope suffered a heart attack from the shock of the incident and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Some of Cope’s employees posted on social media that their boss is at home receiving treatment and that he is eager to get back to work.
Business owner Craig suffered a heart attack, and had to be rushed to hospital after the shock of the attack
Hitting the accelerator, the driver almost leaves one of the partners behind. The suspects are now being detained after the police found them in the hospital, recognizing them from the gunshot wound
Back inside the store, Cope suffered a heart attack from the shock of the incident and had to be rushed to the hospital
Tamara Gibbons, who has worked at the store since October, told DailyMail.com that Cope is well-liked by the community and is a great boss who gives anyone and everyone a chance.
“He’s very kind and never turns anyone away,” Gibbons said, adding that Cope has been known to help transients in the area. ‘He treated everyone equally.’
Gibbons said his boss was the only one working Sunday night when the would-be robbers broke in. But he saw them coming – armed – and was ready to defend his 55-year-old business.
“He was standing, thank God,” another store employee, Marnie Tapia, told ABC7. ‘He just prepared himself. He is always prepared as far as weapons go.’
Tapia credits the store’s newly installed, high-quality security cameras with saving her Cope’s life. He said his boss installed a security system because of a recent spate of shoplifting incidents.
“The sheriff came and warned me about eight months ago that this thing was going on and to be careful and be careful,” he said.
He added that having Cope as his boss makes employees feel more secure.
Cope said his shooting skills came from being a small boy in Illinois, where he owned a single-shot rifle and hunted small game. ‘The shots were expensive’ he said, so ‘you don’t want to miss out.’
As of Tuesday evening, the three suspects in custody remained in custody on $500,000 bail despite being in the state of California, where Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has been criticized for his progressive policies that have let other criminals go. get-out-of-jail-free card.
The progressive prosecutor – who was elected in 2020 – has been vocal about the need to reform the criminal justice system to focus more on intervention and rehabilitation, dismissing “tough on crime” policies as racist and ineffective.
Jose Alba (right) poses for a celebratory photo with Francisco Marte, President of the New York Chamber of Commerce last month after DA Alvin Bragg dropped murder charges against him.
Cope will not face any charges in Riverside County, unlike a New York City bodega worker who was charged with murder for stabbing an assailant in self-defense.
“In this case, a lawfully armed member of our community prevented a violent crime and ensured their own safety while confronted by multiple armed suspects,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement referring to Cope’s case.
However, in New York last month, an employee of the store, Jose Alba, was arrested and initially charged after stabbing a man who physically assaulted him over a bag of chips. The store employee said he was acting in self-defense.
Alba, 61, who had been charged with second-degree murder, was working at the Blue Moon store on July 1 when she stabbed Austin Simon in the neck and chest.
Surveillance footage clearly showed that Simon, 37, had moved behind the counter at a convenience store in Hamilton Heights and pushed the store clerk into a stack of shelves before grabbing her.
That’s when Alba reached to the shelf and pulled out a knife to fight.
Public outrage over DA Alvin Bragg’s charges against Alba escalated to the point of dropping them.
Bodega employee Jose Alba (right) was physically attacked by a customer before he pulled out a knife and killed the man. The charges against Alba have been dismissed