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80-year-old California store owner who shot robber dies

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NORCO, Calif. — An 80-year-old Southern California liquor store owner who opened fire with a shotgun and injured an armed robber this summer has died, the store reported Tuesday.

Craig Cope died Tuesday morning and a memorial at Norco Market & Liquor will take place at a later date, according to a Facebook post. He did not mention the cause of death.

Cope was alone at the counter shortly before 3 a.m. on July 31 in Norco, Riverside County when a man wearing a ski mask walked through the door, pointing a gun and demanding, “Hands up! Hands up!” Surveillance video shows Cope firing a shotgun blast.

The shooter fled. CCTV cameras outside the store caught him shouting “He pulled my arm, he pulled my arm!” as he got into a car and was driven away.

‘I had no time to be scared’ after the car with four thieves pulled into the parking lot, and some came out wearing masks and gloves and holding guns, Cope told KTTV-TV .

A thief came through the door with what Cope said appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle.

“The guy pointed his gun directly at me. It was him or me,” Cope told the station.

Four men were later arrested at a hospital where the injured suspect was being treated. The getaway car was stolen in Las Vegas and contained stolen weapons, authorities said.

Cope was congratulated by the sheriff’s department. The video of the shooting made him a celebrity. People flocked to the store to photograph him, congratulate him and buy items, including a t-shirt with the slogan “Don’t mess with Norco, we’ll shoot your arm,” KABC-TV reported.

Cope had owned the store since 1976. After the shooting, he suffered a heart attack but recovered and returned to work before suffering a disabling stroke in October.

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