MORTON, Illinois - James Vernon, a 75-year-old army veteran, was spending some quality time on the afternoon of October 14, teaching chess at the local library to a group of 16 children ranging in age from 7 - 13. Suddenly, a young man named Dustin Brown burst into the room, wielding a knife in each hand. The crazed 19-year-old brandished his knives and yelled, "I'm going to kill some people!" James immediately put himself between Brown and the children, who quickly hid themselves underneath the tables. James tried talking some sense into the young man and getting him to calm down. But Brown was not to be deterred in his horrible plans.
James motioned to the children to escape while he distracted Brown. His plan worked; all the children were able to get safely out of the room. That left only James and the knife-wielder. Brown slashed at James' arms and wrists. He managed to cut him pretty badly, but James did not give up. Using his larger size to his advantage, James was able to grab Brown and take him down to the ground. He punched him in the collarbone, causing the knife to drop out of his hand.
James was bleeding pretty badly, but he continued to hold Brown down - with some help from a library employee - until police and paramedics arrived. Brown was arrested, and is now being held on multiple charges. In a statement to police two days later, he said, "I failed my mission to kill everyone."
James' injuries included two cut arteries and a slashed tendon on his left hand, but he is recovering well. His thoughts when he had first seen Brown enter the room were: “This can’t happen here and I’m not going to let it happen. These kids are my responsibility right now.” And thanks to his heroic actions, it didn't happen.