Three men have been arrested and the injured gunman remains in hospital
An 80-year-old store owner has spoken out about shooting an attempted armed robber who pointed an AR-15 at him.
“It was him or me,” the store owner insisted.
Craig Cope was seen on surveillance video pulling out a shotgun at Norco Market & Liquor store in Norco, California, and blasting the gunman.
“There wasn’t much time to think about it, the guy pointed the gun directly at me and then it was him or me,” Mr Cope told FOX11.
“I was not going to give him a chance. I recognised it as a semi automatic, and maybe someone had converted it into an automatic, the equivalent of a machine gun, but I’m not going to let him get the first shot off at that point.”
Asked what his advice to any other would-be robbers was, he smiled and replied, “This isn’t a good place to pick.”
Mr Cope told the news channel that he blamed politicians for allowing career criminals to be put back on the streets and said that business owners and law enforcement were struggling to deal with the “crime wave”.
Police say that four male suspects in a black BMW SUV tried to rob the store at around 2.45am on Sunday. The video showed a male suspect in a red and black sweatshirt and balaclava go into the store and point his weapon at Mr Cope.
“When I saw them get out of the vehicle with gloves, masks, and a weapon that solidified the deal for me, I knew what was coming,” he said.
“It would not have done any good to call the local sheriffs they can’t get here that quick. From the time I saw him coming around the side of the building and coming through the door was 10 seconds, and from him pointing the gun at me was a half or three-quarters of a second.
“I’m not waiting. When you point that gun directly at me and I see what you’re carrying, I’m not waiting.”
Mr Cope said that he had grown up in Illinois, and as a boy had used a rifle to hunt for small game.
“I put a lot of food on the table on a regular basis. Ammunition was expensive and when you have to pay for it yourself you don’t want to miss. It still holds true – don’t miss.”
In video of the incident, the alleged robber that he shot can be heard screaming “He shot my arm off” as the man got back into the getaway car.
The suspects were then tracked to a Southern California hospital, with one of them suffering from an injury consistent with a gunshot wound.
Police say that the three other suspects were found at the hospital in the getaway vehicle, which had been reported stolen.
Investigators say that the vehicle contained a number of stolen guns.
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 booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center for robbery and conspiracy.
Officials say that the main suspect, who has not yet been named, is a 23-year-old male who remains in hospital in a stable condition. He will be arrested and charged upon his discharge.
Mr Cope suffered a heart-related incident after the attempted robbery and was taken to hospital for treatment but says he is “feeling much better.”