Who is Craig Cope? California store owner, 80, who shot armed robber says ‘it was him or me’

'I would always protect my employees, my customers, and myself,' says the braveheart who suffered a heart attack after the incident


                            Who is Craig Cope? California store owner, 80, who shot armed robber says ‘it was him or me’
An armed suspect entered a liquor store in Southern California where he was fended off by the 80-year-old owner Craig Cope (Fox 11/YouTube)
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NORCO, CALIFORNIA: An 80-year-old California liquor store owner, who was caught on camera firing a shotgun at a would-be robber, is speaking out, claiming, "I did a lot of hunting when I was a little kid." The early-morning incident at Norco Market & Liquor in Norco, California, just east of Los Angeles, caused the armed suspect to flee his place of business yelling, "He shot my arm off!"

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"I would always protect my employees, my customers, and myself. In this instance, fortunately, I was here by myself, so I only had to worry about that. I took care of it and that was that," the store owner, identified as Craig Cope by 'CBS LA', told the station. 

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"I did a lot of hunting when I was a little kid," he added. "I'd put food on the table. So, I still remember things from a long time ago." 

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Additionally, Cope told 'CBS LA', "More people should vote and vote the right way, and I think the politicians... This isn't going to put me on the good side of many people, but there are a whole lot of people out there who have no idea 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 are bad people. Bad people we don't need. We need to get them locked up because this is a scary situation when that happens," he also said.  

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“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'.

The liquor store in Southern California where the attempted robbery unfolded (Photo by NBC News/YouTube)
The liquor store in Southern California where the attempted robbery unfolded (NBC News/YouTube)

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“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. When I looked and saw them getting out of the vehicle, they got gloves, masks, a weapon, that just solidified the deal for me, I knew what was coming," he added. 

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The unidentified 23-year-old shooter, who was captured on surveillance video brandishing a rifle, was later found at a nearby hospital "suffering from a gunshot wound consistent with a shotgun blast," according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Office. He's still in critical but stable condition, and when he's released, he'll be jailed.

Police say three additional men who were allegedly in a getaway car during the attempted robbery are now in custody and are being investigated for robbery and conspiracy. Media reports state that Cope, who had a heart attack after the shooting, returned to work on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

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