- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2015

A 75-year-old Army veteran is recovering from stab wounds after saving 16 terrified children from a knife-wielding teen who had reportedly planned a mass murder.

James Vernon was leading a chess club meeting with children at a public library in Morton, Illinois, Tuesday afternoon when Dustin Brown, 19, burst into the room wielding two knives and threatening the children, Fox News reported.

“He actually ran into the room yelling, ‘I’m going to kill some people!’ ” Mr. Vernontold the Pekin Daily Times Thursday.

The 16 children — ranging in age from 7 to 13 — hid under tables in the library’s conference room as Mr. Vernon tried to distract the teen.

“I tried to talk to him. I tried to settle him down,” Mr. Vernon told the Pekin Daily Times. “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. That’s a quote.”

As Mr. Vernon inched closer to Mr. Brown, Mr. Brown started to back up, giving the children room to escape.

“I gave them the cue to get the heck out of there, and, boy, they did that! Quick, like rabbits,” Mr. Vernon said.

Mr. Brown slashed the knife at the Army vet, who blocked the blade with his left hand.

“I grabbed him and threw. … Somehow he wound up on a table” with the knife in his left hand pinned under his body, Mr. Vernon told the Times. “I hit him on the (right) collarbone with my closed hand” until Mr. Brown dropped that knife.

Mr. Vernon was able to keep the teen pinned down until police and paramedics arrived.

Mr. Brown was reportedly free on bond for charges of possessing child pornography. He told police he’d been planning to kill people and then himself, according to an affidavit, Fox reported.

“I failed my mission to kill everyone,” Mr. Brown later told police, according to an affidavit. 

Mr. Brown has been charged with attempted murder, armed violence, aggravated battery to a person over age 60, and burglary, Fox reported.

Mr. Vernon underwent surgery for his injuries, which included two cut arteries and a tendon on his left hand from blocking the knife.

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