Yuma, AZ – The U.S. Marine veteran who singlehandedly stopped an armed robber without putting down his bag of groceries last week wore his “LETS GO BRANDON” t-shirt while accepting an award from the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) on Tuesday morning.
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Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot presented James Kilcer with the Citizen’s Valor Award for his display of “extraordinary heroism and exceptional courage” during an Oct. 20 encounter with a masked armed robber at a Chevron gas station, the YCSO said in a press release on Oct. 26.
Sheriff Wilmot said Kilcer voluntarily came “to the aid of another citizen during an incident involving criminal activity at extreme, life threatening, personal risk in an attempt to save or protect human life.”
“The YCSO Citizen’s Valor Award is the highest award for citizens whose actions warrant recognition,” the sheriff’s office noted.
Kilcer attended the ceremony wearing a red “Make America Great Again Hat” and a blue “LETS GO BRANDON” t-shirt adorned with a U.S. flag, a photo shared by the YCSO showed.
The Marine Corps League Territorial Detachment 635, the American Legion Post 19, the general manager of Chevron, and members of the Yuma community also attended the event and presented Kilcer with “tokens of appreciation,” according to the sheriff’s office.
The incident occurred inside the Chevron station located at 10747 E. North Frontage Road at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 20, the YCSO said in a previous press release.
Security footage released by the sheriff’s office showed a customer chatting with someone behind the service counter as two masked suspects barged into the business just feet behind him.
The customer was later identified as Kilcer.
As Kilcer casually turned away from the counter and stepped towards the doors, he glanced over and spotted one of the suspects pointing a gun, the video showed.
Without so much as a pause, Kilcer immediately snapped his left hand out and grabbed the gunman’s firearm, then held onto the suspect and hit him in the side of the head with a bag of drinks and snacks still gripped in his right hand.
As he scuffled with the masked gunman, the second suspect scurried out the door to join up with a third masked suspect standing just outside the open doorway, the video showed.
“The other two suspects fled the area when they witnessed their fellow criminal stopped,” the YCSO said in the press release. “The customer was able to detain the suspect he disarmed until law enforcement arrived.”
He stated: “The Marine Corp taught me not to [mess] around.” pic.twitter.com/aDWdi2w7W3
— Blake Keller WNEM (@blakekellertv) October 21, 2021
When deputies spoke with the customer to ask him how he was able to take such swift control of the potentially deadly situation, he told them he is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“The Marine Corp taught me not to [mess] around,” he said, according to the YCSO.
Deputies determined the gunman was a juvenile and booked him into the Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center on aggravated assault and armed robbery charges.
The other two suspects remain at large.
No injuries were reported as a result of the attempted holdup.
During an interview with FOX News last week, Kilcer said he takes the safety of others and his own personal safety “very seriously.”
“I turn around to go and leave, kind of walk out and as I’m turning around, I hear the door kind of open real aggressively,” Kilcer explained regarding the robbery. “At that point, the ‘spidey senses’ tingled a little bit.”
Kilcer said he did a “quick sweep” and quickly realized the other two masked robbers weren’t pointing firearms, so honed in on what he hoped was the lone gunman.
“[I] decided that’s the guy that I’m going to hit,” he told FOX News. “I was actually going to take control of his head and the gun at the same time, and the bag just happened to be heavy and attached to me and it smashed him right in the face.”
Kilcer said he was “mentally prepared” to react partially due to the training and muscle memory he received in the Marine Corps, FOX News reported.
“I did what had to be done,” he said.