The quick-thinking action and seasoned experience from a Marine Corps Veteran employed as a contractor at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) helped thwart an attempt to rob a Chevron employee at gun point in Yuma on Oct. 20, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO).
James Kilcer said he visits the Chevron on North Frontage Road about three times a week before heading off to work at YPG.
He had purchased a couple of Gatorades, energy drinks, and a snack that morning while talking with the clerk he has gotten to know over the years.
“I heard the door start opening forcefully and my ‘Spidey senses’ or whatever kind of tingling, and I turn around and saw they were coming in real quick,” Kilcer said.
Surveillance video shows the moment three suspects wearing black with masks entered the Chevron. A .22 caliber handgun could be seen in the hands of the front man pointing in the direction of the clerk and Kilcer.
With keys in one hand and a bag of goods in the other, Kilcer without hesitation dropped his keys, relied on his Marine Corps training, and went for the firearm.
“I was ready: I saw it coming,” Kilcer said “The minute my hands closed around it, I never lost contact with the gun. And I pulled him down.”
He held the suspect down until law enforcement arrived.
The person arrested by deputies was a juvenile according to YCSO, and was charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of aggravated assault.
The two other suspects seen in the video fled the scene. Deputies arrested one of them, a juvenile, on Oct. 22.
While Kilcer’s actions were heroic they shouldn’t be repeated by just anyone thinking they can take down an armed individual, according to Chief Donnie Lucas with the YPG Police Department.
“The law enforcement community advises non-trained civilians, non-combatant civilians who have not been through any law enforcement course or de-arming course or some military-type training, not to engage an armed gunman, or an armed suspect with a knife, or a machete, or any other weapon,” he said. “In most cases it would be better if you complied with the request that they are making.”
Kilcer served as a tactical air operations technician in the Marine Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan during his time in the military. He credits his actions to his Marine Corps basic training and mindset.
“Being in that mindset of if something happens, I will have to and will react appropriately,” he said. “I was just ready.”
“I really didn’t know how fast I reacted.” He said in response to watching himself in the video. “That is just insane.”