Meet James Kilcer, the Marine veteran seen disarming a robber in a viral video

The Yuma County Sheriff will present him with a citizens valor award.
Jeff Schogol Avatar

James M. Kilcer, who is being hailed as a hero for grabbing a thief’s pistol during an attempted armed robbery, is a Marine veteran who served in the Corps from July 2007 until August 2011, according to his military service record.

Kilcer is a former tactical air operations technician who deployed to Afghanistan from March to October 2010, his service record says. His awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Navy Unit Commendation; and NATO Medal – ISAF Afghanistan.

His last duty assignment was with Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Marine Air Control Group 38, based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 20, Kilcer was in a Yuma gas station when two of three assailants entered, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office. The first robber wore a ski mask and black clothing as he pointed a pistol at the cashier.

The gas station’s surveillance camera caught the scene as Kilcer, who was in arm’s reach of the armed robber, counterattacked.

Kilcer dropped what he was holding with his left hand and quickly reached for the armed burglar’s wrist. The robber moved his weapon out of Kilcer’s grasp, but he could not break the momentum of the Marine veteran’s attack.

Still holding his shopping bag, Kilcer threw a punch at his opponent.  The bag ended up slamming into the assailant’s face. The thief  found himself on the ropes and his two accomplices retreated.

Kilcer thwarted the entire robbery in roughly five seconds. He told sheriff’s deputies after the incident that, “The Marine Corps taught me not to [mess] around,” a Yuma County Sheriff’s Office news release says.

A screenshot of a gas station’s surveillance video showing the moment just before James Kilcer reached for the thief’s weapon. (Courtesy of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.)

The suspected burglar is a juvenile who faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault, the news release says.

Yuma County Sheriff Leon N. Wilmot will present Kilcer with a citizens valor award next week, said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Tania Pavlak.

Task & Purpose was unable to reach Kilcer. Speaking to Fox News host Dana Perino on Friday, Kilcer said that while his military training gave him the muscle memory to respond, he makes a point of always being mentally ready to deal with emergencies.

Kilcer ended the interview with, “And remember: Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

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