Last week, 32-year-old James Kilcer, a contractor with the Department of Defense, was on his way to work at the Yuma County Proving Grounds, a training and testing site for the U.S. Army, when he stopped at a convenience store for cold drink at around 4:40 in the morning.
You’ve probably seen the surveillance video where an armed gunman and at least two others enter the store behind Kilcer.
‘S–t needed to be done,’ Kilcer said. ‘I kind of saw what was coming my way and just, you know, I wasn’t gonna sit around and cry about it. And I just waited until he took that one extra step and – boom! – f—ing hit him and just instinct kicked in.’
“I was just getting ready to turn around to leave and I heard the door swinging open in an aggressive fashion,” said Kilcer. “It kind of had my spidey senses tingling a little bit.” Some people would have frozen or run when seeing a gun at eye level. Not Kilcer. Not a Marine. “Well my first thought was that it was an awfully small barrel,” said Kilcer, commenting on the gun.
ZERO FEAR:— Zach Crenshaw (@ZachCrenshaw) October 21, 2021
When this Yuma, AZ veteran saw some criminals pop in guns high -- he didn't wait for things to potentially go south.
“The Marine Corp taught me not to [mess] around,” he later said.
'The few, the proud' for a reason.
More on the story on @ABC15 at 10. pic.twitter.com/fGjKthcXvO
He said instinct took over.
“The situation had to be dealt with, and there was really only one way to deal with it,” the Marine continued. “I picked my target and said that’s the one I’m going for and he took an extra step towards me, towards the counter and he was in my reach.”
In a flash, he pounced.
“I hit him and the gun before my keys hit the ground. That’s how fast I moved – and I’m a little chubby guy. So I mean, I don’t move that fast anymore. I’ve put on a couple pounds since the Marine Corps,” said Kilcer, chuckling.
Then he swung his shopping bag like a weapon.
“It smashed him in the face and may or may not have broke his nose because he was bleeding all over the place.”
The marine, who did a tour in Afghanistan, wasn’t sure if the other two suspects were still coming at him, so he grabbed the suspect’s gun as if he was still under attack.
“I bring [the gun] up his body and grab him around his neck, and put the gun to his head. Spin him around, and get him in between me and — because I didn’t know if his buddies were gonna come at us,” said Kilcer, acting out a hostage-like situation.
The video doesn’t show the struggle that continued, with Kilcer discovering the gun was armed, but jammed.
In the back of the store, Kilcer said he and the gunman‑ who was just 14 years old — struggled for control of the weapon. They both tried to get their hands on the trigger before Kilcer eventually won out.
‘It was really surreal,’ Kilcer said. ‘Like, I counted in my head. As all this was happening at frickin’ lightspeed I was counting trigger pulls, and I realized I was pulling a trigger, making attempts to pull the trigger, but everything was just jammed up.’
The Marine grabbed the gun away from the teen and tried to fire the weapon four times but it never went off.
He eventually put pressure on the slide of the .22 pistol, releasing a round, and realized it was loaded the entire time.
‘I felt the round hit my hand and I’m like, Oh s–t. So I locked the slide back and I look in my palm and it was a .22 in my palm,’ Kilcer said.
Kilcer then punched the suspect and believed he may have broken the kid’s nose. He was then able to get control and hold him down until police arrived. Klicer said he ‘held the gun to [the 14-year-old’s] temple’ like a hostage, in case either of the other two suspects came after him, not realizing they’d already left.
Kilcer asked the boy his age, only to discover he was just a teen.
‘It was kind of disheartening to find out he was only 14,’ Kilcer said. ‘It was his lucky day.’
The suspect faces armed robbery and aggravated assault charges, according to the county sheriff’s office.
On Friday, they announced that they had arrested a second teen suspect in connection with the attempted armed robbery, and are still looking for a third.
When a reporter asked Kilcer if he had a message for the young gunman, he replied,”That boy needs some Jesus. He’s going down the wrong path real quick.”
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