On Sunday, July 31, at 2:45 a.m. in Norco, California, four male suspects wearing facial coverings and hoods pulled up to the Norco Market & Liquor store in a black BMV X3 SUV. One of the suspects entered the establishment brandishing a rifle.
CBS Los Angeles reports that 80-year-old store owner Craig Cope had seen the suspects exiting the vehicle outside his store via surveillance cameras. An employee of Cope's, Marnie Tapia, claims “he saw them coming,” which prompted him to arm himself with the shotgun that he keeps behind the counter.
In the footage of the exchange, Cope can be heard offering a brief warning. With the suspect continuing to aim his rifle at Cope, the store owner then opened fire, hitting the would-be robber in the arm.
The wounded suspect then fled back to the vehicle, screaming, “He shot my arm off, he shot my arm off.”
After scaring off the would-be robbers, Cope suffered a heart attack, though is reportedly recovering.
Store owner opens fire on would-be robber FOX 11 - Video
While the wounded suspect, yet to be named by officials, still remains hospitalized and in critical condition, the other three suspects were taken into police custody in the hospital parking lot and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center for robbery and conspiracy. According to the Riverside County sheriff’s department, Justin Johnson, 22, of Inglewood, Jamar Williams, 27, of Los Angeles, and Davon Broadus, 24, of Las Vegas, are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The suspects’ vehicle was reported stolen and is said by police to have contained numerous stolen firearms.
The Riverside County sheriff’s department has noted that Cope is a “lawfully armed member of our community” and that he “prevented a violent crime and ensured their own safety, while being confronted with multiple armed suspects.”
Marnie Tapia told ABC7 that Cope and his team had been warned ahead of time by the sheriff's department concerning crimes of this sort in the area: "Just be on your toes ... [Cope] was on his toes, thank God."
According to Neighborhood Scout, a resident of Norco has a 1 in 675 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime. In the broader Los Angeles area, the likelihood of becoming a victim of a property crime is 1 in 44.