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‘He shot my arm off!’ 80-year-old store owner shoots would-be robber

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged the store owner’s role in “preventing a violent crime” while being confronted by armed suspects.

An 80-year-old convenience store owner fired his shotgun on an armed man who was trying to rob his Norco store over the weekend, officials said.

Surveillance video shows several people arriving in a black SUV at the Norco Market & Liquor in the 800 block of Sixth Street around 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

One of the would-be robbers enters the store with a rifle drawn, but seconds later, the store owner, James Craig Cope, steps behind a glass display case and fires a single shot. The suspect immediately retreats to a waiting vehicle, repeatedly shouting: “He shot my arm off!”

Four suspects were found shortly after at a nearby hospital, where one was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound, according to a statement issued by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The others were found outside in a vehicle, which was determined to be stolen, authorities said.

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Police arrested Justin Johnson, 22, of Inglewood; Jamar Williams, 27, of Los Angeles; and Davon Broadus, 24, of Las Vegas on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy. The men are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.

The Riverside County district attorney’s office charged the three with attempted robbery, elder abuse and carrying a stolen, loaded firearm in public. All have pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

The fourth suspect, DaShawn Lee Belvin, 23, has not been released from the hospital since he was shot, the district attorney said. He remains in “critical but stable condition” and “will be booked into a Riverside County jail upon his release,” sheriff’s officials said. Along with the above charges, Belvin also was charged with firearm assault.

The shooting remains under investigation. In a statement, the Sheriff’s Department acknowledged Cope’s role in “preventing a violent crime” and ensuring his “own safety, while being confronted with multiple armed suspects.”

Tamara Gibbons, an employee of the Norco Market, said Cope was taken to a hospital after the shooting, where he is still recovering.

Gibbons wasn’t in the store at the time, nor were any of her co-workers, all of whom are women, she said. But in the wake of the incident, they discussed what they would have done in a similar situation.

“It does make me want to get more protection myself,” Gibbons said. “Now that they caught the guy, we’re all holding up pretty good, but before that, we were kind of iffy being in here, especially by ourselves.”

Gibbons said she and the other employees feared the suspect might come back.

“You have to think that these gentlemen came here for a specific reason, and they didn’t get what they came for. And more, one of their hands was shot off,” she said.

In the days since the shooting, Gibbons said business at Norco Market has been “off the hook.” Phones have been ringing constantly with calls from people sending their thoughts and prayers. People from other cities have come to the shop to show their support.

“It shows older people that they can stick up for themselves,” Gibbons said. “Just because of your age doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of doing something like this.”


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