A nightmare scenario unfolded at Morton Public Library as over a dozen children and their mom’s were barricaded in a room by a man with knives yelling, “I’m going to kill some people!”
Enter army veteran, James Vernon. Seventy-five years old.
It would be “90 seconds of combat” as Vernon put it. A 75-year-old versus a knife wielding 19-year-old.
Dustin Brown would end up slashing two arteries and a tendon on the 75-year-olds left hand. But it was a small price to pay compared to Brown’s original intentions which apparently was to kill people and then kill himself.
He entered the library with his two grip taped knives ready. He stated he wanted the kids to die. Brown had already been brought up on charges for possessing child porn. He was currently free on bond.
Vernon first tried to reason with the young man and settle him down some.
“I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention 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 the children took shelter under tables, Vernon began approaching the man and he began backing away. Five decades earlier the army had trained Vernon in hand to hand knife fighting combat. This would be the first time in his life where he was going to have to put that training to use.
“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 Vernon knew which hand the attack would come from.
“First rule of combat: Be fast and vigorous,” said Vernon.
Vernon ended up getting close enough to quickly and vigorously grab the man and then throw him, overpowering the smaller 19-year-old. The battle continued and they ended up on a table.
“I hit him on the (right) collarbone with my closed hand.”
Finally the assailant’s arm went numb and he dropped the knife.
Vernon still held him down until police arrived. Vernon was “bleeding pretty good” from blocking some of the knife attacks. He is currently at home in Morton, Illinois recovering from surgery on his his wounds.
What an amazing hero who saved the lives of so many children!