A 75-year-old Army veteran fought off a knife-wielding man who allegedly planned to kill children at a Morton, Illinois, library.
“I’m going to kill some people!” Dustin Brown, 19, yelled when he entered the Morton Public Library with two knives on Oct. 13, veteran James Vernon told the Pekin Times.
Vernon said the knives Brown had were “hunting types” with “fixed blades about 5 inches” long. Authorities said they were wrapped in tape for a more secure grip.
Vernon was teaching a chess class to 16 children, ages 7 to 13, when Brown entered the library. He had the children go under tables and he stood to face Brown.
“I tried to talk to him,” Vernon said. “I tried to settle him down. I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention [from the children] 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.”
Vernon moved closer to Brown as they spoke and positioned himself between him and the room’s door, with the children behind him under the tables.
“I gave [the children] the cue to get the heck out of there, and, boy, they did that!” Vernon said. “Quick, like rabbits.”
“There were no more potential victims in the room,” Vernon said. "He focused on me. There was no more talking."
Vernon watched Brown’s movements and learned how he used the knives, as he was trained to do half a century ago in the Army.
“I knew he was right-handed,” Vernon said. "He was whittling on his left arm ... making small cuts. He was trying to scare me, and he did."
If an attack came from Brown, he said, “I knew which hand it was coming from.”
Brown did attack Vernon, cutting him with his knife.
Vernon said he was “bleeding pretty good” but managed to win his “90 seconds of combat.” He held Brown down until police arrived.
If Brown had brought a firearm instead, “it would’ve been a different story,” Vernon said.
The veteran is recuperating from cuts to two arteries and a tendon on his left hand.
Brown, who was out on bail for child pornography charges, faces charges of attempted murder, armed violence, and aggravated battery, the Chicago Tribune reports. It is unknown whether he has a lawyer.
“I failed my mission to kill everyone,” Brown allegedly told police, according to a prosecutor’s court affidavit that accompanied formal charges, the Pekin Times reports.