Armed robbers scrambled for cover Sunday morning when a Riverside County liquor store owner opened fire with his own gun from behind the counter.
Security camera video from inside Norco Market and Liquor shows a masked man shouting commands as he entered with a rifle raised in the direction of the store owner. Within seconds, the store owner replied by opening fire.
“They came in telling him, ‘Freeze,’ and something about, ‘This is a robbery,’” said Marnie, a store employee. “To himself, I’m sure he thought, ‘No, it ain’t,’ because he just opened fire.”
One rifle blast can be heard from behind the counter. The would-be robber immediately ran from the store.
Cameras outside the market showed the man running to a BMW SUV as one of four armed accomplices exited from a rear door. That man quickly got back inside the SUV after the sound of gunfire and screams.
“He was screaming, ‘He shot my arm off! He shot my arm off!” Marnie said.
A third individual raced to catch up with the SUV during the chaotic getaway.
Store employees said the owner saw the armed men on the outside security camera when they arrived. The security cameras were just recently installed at the market.
“He prepares himself,” Marnie said. “He’s dealt with this before.”
The man who entered the store was hospitalized in critical, but stable, condition after being treated for wounds consistent with a gunshot, deputies said. The other individuals were located at a parking lot inside what was reported as a stolen BMW.
The three men in the SUV were arrested and booked on robbery and conspiracy charges, authorities said. They are from Inglewood, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The hospitalized individual’s arrest is pending his release from the hospital, authorities said.
“In this case, a lawfully armed member of our community prevented a violent crime and ensured their own safety while being confronted with multiple armed suspects,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
Employees said the store owner suffered a heart attack shortly after the confrontation. He is recovering and expects to return soon to work, they said.
“I’m proud to call him my boss,” Marnie said. “He’s very protective of us all.”
Source: NBC Los Angeles