The owner of a Norco liquor store who went viral for thwarting a robbery with a shotgun in August has died, his family confirms.

Craig Cope, 80, gained local fame after surveillance video captured him defending his store by blasting a would-be armed robber with a shotgun.

On Tuesday morning, the store’s Facebook page announced Cope’s passing:

“We Lost our Craig this Morning. I’m sorry I am without words right now but I promised to not leave you in the dark. There will be a memorial here at the store so when I come up with a date I will be sure to let you know.”

A cause of death was not mentioned.

  • Norco liquor store owner Craig Cope in a photo provided by family.
  • Norco liquor store owner Craig Cope in a photo provided by family.

Cope was a local community fixture who owned the Norco Market liquor store in the 800 block of 6th Street.

Video from early August 2022 shows the wild confrontation as an armed robber entered Cope’s store around 2:45 a.m. while pointing an assault-style rifle at Cope and ordering him to put his “hands in the air.”

Within a few seconds, Cope steps behind a glass display and fires a shotgun at the suspect, who immediately runs out of the store screaming and shouting, “He shot my arm off!”

The shooting left the 23-year-old suspect hospitalized while three other suspects were arrested and booked for robbery and conspiracy.

Cope’s quick thinking and desire to defend his shop were praised by authorities and members of the community.

“Great job old man. People should know that Norco is made up of real-life cowboys,” said KTLA viewer Jacob Borrego on Facebook.

“Just love it when the bad guys get the Tables Turned on THEM,” Mark Ferency wrote.

“Might not be so quick to try to rob someone in the near future. He’s lucky he has a future,” Frances Contreras said.

“Maybe more criminals will think twice about robbing someone after seeing this video,” Kristi Cocke wrote.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department also praised the store’s owner for his quick action.

“In this case, a lawfully armed member of our community prevented a violent crime and ensured their own safety, while being confronted with multiple armed suspects,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.