75-year-old army veteran, James Vernon was teaching a youth chess class at his local library in Morton, Illinois when a psycho ran in threatening to harm the children.
In the middle of the class, a 19-year-old named Dustin Brown ran in screaming, “I’m going to kill some people.” Brown had two, 5-inch hunting knives with him wrapped in tape so he could have a better grip on them, and it was time for Vernon to act fast.
Vernon tried to talk to the attacker, and settle him down, he said. “I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention from the children and calmed him a bit. I asked him if he was from Morton, did he go to high school. I asked what his problem was. He said his life sucks. That’s a quote.”
As Vernon spoke to Brown, Brown backed away when he got closer, and Vernon was able to put himself between the attacker and the door, enabling the 16 children, ages 7-13 to run and get out. Vernon told the Pekin Daily Times,
“I gave [the children] the cue to get the heck out of there, and, boy, they did that! Quick, like rabbits.”
When there were no more potential victims in the room, Brown focused on Vernon. This was when Vernon watched what Brown did with his knives, then he learned what to do. “I knew he was right-handed. He was whittling on his left arm with the one in that hand, making small cuts. He was trying to scare me, and he did. [But if Brown attacked] I knew which hand it was coming from.”
Vernon who was trained in combat, but never served was still able to overcome his smaller attacked.
“I grabbed him and threw … Somehow he wound up on a table with the knife in his left hand pinned under his body,” Vernon said. “I hit him on the collarbone with my closed hand, until Brown dropped that knife.”
Brown wound up causing Vernon some knife wounds, which he has been recovering from, but in those ’90 seconds of combat,’ Vernon saved the lives of 16 children.