An 80-year-old liquor store owner shot a suspected robber armed with an AR-15 rifle then suffered a heart attack

·2 min read
Footage shows an armed gunman in Craig Cope's California store.
Surveillance footage shows an armed gunman in Craig Cope's California store.Riverside County Sheriff's Department

  • Four men, armed with an AR-15 rifle, approached a liquor store in Norco, California, on July 31.

  • The store's 80-year-old owner responded by pulling out his shotgun and shooting one in the arm.

  • The suspects fled the scene, but Craig Cope suffered a heart attack afterward.

An 80-year-old man calmly shot an armed intruder who tried to rob his California store, surveillance footage shows, but suffered from a heart attack shortly after, according to reports.

Craig Cope was inside his liquor store in Norco, in Riverside County, on July 31 when a man armed with an AR-15 approached his store at about 2.47 a.m., according to a press release by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The primary suspect, a 23-year-old man wearing a balaclava, walked into the store with his gun pointed at Cope, the press release said. Three other suspects were waiting outside, per the press release.

Cope, who spotted the armed gunman as soon as he'd entered the store, used his shotgun to shoot him from behind the counter, footage shows.

Craig Cope uses shotgun to shoot armed gunman in his store
Craig Cope, circled, used a shotgun to shoot at an armed gunman in his store in Norco, California.Riverside County Sheriff's Department

"He shot my arm off, he shot my arm off," the 23-year-old suspect can be heard screaming while fleeing the premises, the surveillance footage shows.

The four suspects fled the scene in a stolen black BMW SUV, according to the sheriff's department. Officers later recovered firearms and additional evidence related to the attempted robbery in the vehicle.

Suspects flees the scene at Norco Market & Liquor in Norco, California.
A suspect flees the scene after being shot by Craig Cope at a liquor store in Norco, California.Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Meanwhile, Cope, who has owned the store for 55 years, then suffered a heart attack, MailOnline reported. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, the media outlet said.

In an interview with Fox 11 News on Wednesday, Cope said he was doing "a lot better" than he was that night. He joked that he didn't know what caused the heart attack. "Maybe I'm just old," he told Fox 11 News.

Cope said his message to the suspects is that "this isn't a good place to pick."

The suspects were tracked down at a hospital. The primary suspect, who remains hospitalized in a critical but stable condition, is in police custody, the sheriff's department said.

Three other suspects were taken into police custody at the hospital parking lot and were booked into jail for robbery and conspiracy on a bail of $500,000.

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