Army veteran saves 16 children from library slaughter

Veterans of all eras have showed that their service demands special kinds of courage, both physical and moral.

They are heroes to us, but to them they are just normal people. They are modest. They don’t look for publicity. They claim to just be doing their job.

But a military veteran is the last person you want to mess with.

This also applies to 75-year-old army veteran James Vernon from Morton, IL.



Back in 2015, James Vernon, a retired Army veteran, was at the library to teach chess to a class of 16 students.

He was in the middle of his session with the group was surprised by the arrival of 19-year-old Dustin Brown.

The man burst into the library carrying two knives, and he made his intentions clear immediately. The disgruntled teen said he specifically wanted to kill children that day.

Morton Public Library

“He actually ran into the room yelling, I’m going to kill some people,” Vernon told Pekin Daily Times.

But James Vernon didn’t allow the young man to do that.

The veteran remembered his training from the military, and the elderly man went into immediate action.

“I tried to talk to him. I tried to settle him down,” Vernon said.

“I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention from the kids 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”.

Dustin Brown

As the 19-year-old entered rushed forward to attack, the retired chess club teacher gave the children a route of escape.

He then quickly reverted to the knife-fighting training he remembered from his Army days 50 years ago.

Even if Vernon actually never faced combat when he served in the Army, the training he got still came in handy, though. Vernon was able to disarm and pin the man.

“First rule of combat: Be fast and vigorous. I should have hit his wrist. That’s how you’re trained, but it’s been half a century,” the veteran recalled.

Unfortunately, Vernon was injured during the attack. Brown sliced through 2 of his arteries and a tendon when Vernon went to block the knife swipe with his left hand.

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But though he was “bleeding pretty good” he managed to keep Brown pinned down until an employee at the library was able to take the knives out of his hands.

The employee then helped Vernon to keep Brown under control until police and paramedics arrived at the scene.

According to a court affidavit, Brown told the police that he ”failed his mission to kill everyone”. He also admitted he’d been plotting to kill the kids and then himself for 2 weeks.

Vernon definitely showed that age does not matter when it comes to bravery or being able to stop someone from doing harm.

”Sometimes old guys aren’t as easy of a target as you may think,” he said.

Vernon’s wife, Hanna, also spoke with the media after the incident. She supported her husband’s brave act completely.

“I would have been very disappointed if he would have crawled under a table”, Hanna told reporters.


For Vernon, a little bloodshed was a small price to pay to save so many precious lives. For a fifty year gap in his hero training, this vet fought like a pro! 

Children’s parents couldn’t be more grateful for the courageous man willing to risk his own life to save their little ones.

God bless you Vernon for your bravery in saving these 16 children from being slaughtered.

You were their guardian angel! May God grant you good health, happiness and God’s blessings.?????

Share this story if you think this army veteran is a real hero!