According to an article in the Peking Daily Times, last night in Peking, Illinois a group of 16 children and several of their mothers found the only exit of the elementary school library they were in blocked by a young man wielding two knives.
“I’m going to kill some people,” bellowed 19-year-old Dustin Brown while wielding two five-inch hunting knives that had been modified with duct tape for increased grip.
Brown was free on bond while facing charges of child pornography possession, and the home-school chess club of children ages 7 to 13 drew his anger. Brown had been planning to kill children and then himself for weeks according to the report.
The children and their mothers hid under desks and tables while Brown continued to shout. One man, however, did not hide. He chose instead to draw the attacker's attention to himself in the hopes of giving the children time to escape.
That man was 75-year-old James Vernon.
Vernon attempted to talk Brown down and placed himself between the attacker and the door, which allowed all of the children and their families to escape.
The only people left in the room were Brown and Vernon.
“There were no more potential victims in the room. There was no more talking,” Vernon said.
Brown may have liked those odds, but what he didn’t know was that Vernon was a retired soldier who had been trained in knife combat five decades ago. He began to put his training to use by studying his attacker.
“I knew he was right-handed. He was whittling on his left arm, making small cuts. He was trying to scare me, and he did. [But] I knew which hand [the attack] was coming from,” Vernon said.
When Brown finally did attack it did indeed come from his right hand and Vernon blocked with his left hand.
“I should have hit his wrist. That’s how you’re trained, but it’s been half a century,” Vernon said.
“First rule of combat: Be fast and vigorous,” Vernon said. “I grabbed him and threw ... Somehow he wound up on a table. I hit him on the right collarbone with my closed hand.”
These educated blows numbed Brown’s right arm and caused him to drop his knife while his left arm and knife were pinned behind his back on the table.
From there Vernon was able to hold Brown with the help of a library employee until the police arrived.
Vernon is currently recovering from the lacerations he sustained to his left arm and the ensuing corrective surgery in his Morton, Illinois home.
In this day and age where mass shootings and deaths are making headlines just about every day the story of this veteran is something to be celebrated. However, many have chosen to focus instead on the political ramifications of the incident.
Many are claiming that this story would have had a very different ending were Brown armed with guns instead of knives and are using this as proof that stricter gun laws need to be affected.
Vernon himself stated that if Brown had brought a firearm it “would’ve been a different story.”
An attacker armed with knives gave a brave man the chance to save lives. An attacker armed with guns may not have afforded him that same chance.
One thing that everyone agrees on, however, is that Vernon is a hero.
Keep Reading: Instagram Posts Nail The Logic Behind #GunControl