Marine veteran disarms robber: "The situation had to be dealt with"

Posted at 10:30 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 15:53:06-04

YUMA, AZ — Millions around the world have now watched a Marine veteran from Yuma jump into action. James Kilcer singlehandedly stopped an armed robbery at a Yuma gas station early Wednesday morning.

The video has exploded online, with the vast majority of viewers applauding his bravery and quick thinking.

Kilcer was on his way into work at around 4:30 a.m. He is a contractor with the Department of Defense, so he is not allowed to carry a gun into work, which is why he was not carrying his gun that morning.

Had he been armed, Kilcer says things might have ended differently. Fortunately for the suspects, the Marine only tackled and detained one of them.

"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."

Most people would have froze or ran when seeing a gun at eye level. Kilcer is not one of those people.

"Well my first thought was that it was an awfully small barrel," said Kilcer, commenting on the gun.

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, the 32-year-old father 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.

The father wielded 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 soldier, who did a tour in Afghanistan, was not 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 other two suspects had taken off running when the one that Kilcer had pinned came into focus.

"I discerned that he was 14 because I asked him, 'How old are you?' And he goes, 'I'm just 14!'"

"Do you have a message for him, now that you know he's 14," asked ABC15's Zach Crenshaw.

"That boy needs some Jesus," replied Kilcer. "He's going down the wrong path real quick."

Kilcer said after the deputies arrived and took over, he grabbed his snacks and went into work, albeit a little late.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office said Friday an additional juvenile suspect was arrested for one count of armed robbery and aggravated assault in this case. One other suspect still has not been located.

Anyone with information regarding this case, please contact the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office at 928-783-4427 or 78-CRIME to remain anonymous.