The Norco convenience store owner who shot an attempted armed robber, and then suffered a heart attack as a result of the traumatic experience, returned to work Tuesday and was speaking out for the first time.
CBSLA spoke to 80-year-old Craig Cope, the store owner, and his wife.
. Cope fired his shotgun in self-defense at the armed robber. The suspect was hit in the arm and fled the scene with four other suspects.
Sheriff's deputies said the 23-year-old suspect that Cope hit remains in critical condition.
Cope's wife, who did not want to be identified on camera, said that her husband rarely uses his gun.
A loud blast can be heard on the security footage and then screams, as the gunman ran to his getaway car, yelling over and over, "He shot my arm off."
CBSLA asked Cope's wife if he knew that he'd hit the suspect.
"The guy yelled. So, he figured he did, but he didn't know the extent of the damage, but the guy is in the hospital, in critical condition. So, it must have been a pretty good shot," she said.
During the run in with the attempted robbers, Cope, a father and grandfather, suffered a heart attack and needed three stents. He's now out of the hospital and recovering.
At the store on 6th Street, the phone has been ringing nonstop. Calls came in from people as far away as Canada, praising Cope for his bravery. One man drove to Norco Market and Liquor from Eastvale to show his support.
"...I was telling my fiancé by the time that happened, you have no time to react, you know, whatever you can grab or whatever you can...especially, you know, for his safety. You know, he had to think fast," customer Adrian Guzman said.
According to Cope's wife, the shooting sends a message to criminals.
"Stay out of Norco, because everybody in Norco has a gun," she said.
As for Cope himself, he spoke with CBSLA's Michele Gile on the first day back at his store since the incident happened.
Asked what the experience has been like for him, Cope said he just did what he had to do.
"I would always protect my employees, my customers, myself. 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 80-year-old said.
In response to his wife's comment that he rarely shoots his gun, he said he hasn't had much of a chance.
"I did a lot of hunting when I was a little kid," he added. "I'd put feed...food on the table. So, I still remember things from a long time ago."
CBSLA asked Cope if he had a message for fellow business people in his area and Southern California about the recent uptick in crimes at convenience stores and liquor stores. He had this to say:
"Well, I think more people should vote and vote the right way, and I think the politicians...this isn't going to get me on the right side of a lot of people. But there's a whole lotta people out there, they got no clue 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's bad people, bad people we don't need. We need to get them locked up because this is a scary situation when that happens. Everybody works hard. They got bills to pay. These guys are going to come in and take it away from you. Not here."
The district attorney's office said that three of the four suspects are set to make their first court appearance tomorrow, charged with robbery and conspiracy. The fourth suspect, who was shot by Cope, remains in the hospital in critical, but stable condition.
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