Saturday, October 17, 2015

Elderly veteran saves 16 children from knife attack

Morton, a small town in Illinois, is best known for its annual Pumpkin Festival. But pumpkins were the last thing on anyone's mind last Tuesday. About 16 home-schooled boys and girls and a few mothers were gathered at the public library for a chess class coached by 75-year-old James Vernon. He'd just finished his tutorial and was walking around the room checking each child's first move when the door opened and Dustin Brown, 19, burst in carrying a knife in each hand. "I'm going to kill some people!" he yelled, as frightened children crawled under tables. With a spate of school violence across the country, Vernon decided his class would not be a statistic. Even though he has weak knees and a bad shoulder, he remembered his Army basic training.
First he asked Brown if he was from Morton. Did he go to school here? What was his problem? Brown said "my life sucks," but was persuaded to let the children and mothers leave the room. Vernon had already observed Brown was right-handed, so he knew where the first blow would come from. When the children were gone, Brown slashed from the right and Vernon blocked the blow with his left hand. "I should have hit his wrist," he said later. That's how he was trained, but it was 50 years ago. Brown cut Vernon's hand, but Vernon flipped him onto a table and restrained him until a library employee arrived to remove the knives and keep Brown pinned down for police. Speaking later at home, Vernon's wife was not surprised at his courage. "That's the way he is," she said. "That's why I married him.

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