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LAS VEGAS, NV – In a shocking incident caught completely on surveillance video, a Las Vegas vape store owner defended himself during an attempted robbery by stabbing a juvenile suspect multiple times who had vaulted over his counter, police say.
The robbery took place on Wednesday, August 3, when two suspects – identified by authorities only as juveniles – entered the Smokestrom Smoke Shop on West Sahara near Decatur at approximately 3:25 p.m., both wearing ski masks.
In the video – the store has a surveillance camera set up behind the counter – Smokestrom owner Johnny Nguyen, 22, can be seen approaching the counter, when he asks the sketchy duo “Why are you guys wearing masks like that?” The two suspects, however, remain completely silent, at which time Nguyen asks them to leave the store.
In news interviews, Nguyen would later say that he quickly realized the suspects were clearly up to no good, and at that point he can be seen in the video palming what appears to be a knife that he had next to his cash register.
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“At first I thought they were normal customers and then I realized they had like ski masks on,” Nguyen told reporters. “I had to assume they had a firearm so I just wanted to make sure I could protect myself.”
The encounter starts to go south when one of the suspects grabs a mug with change in it off of the counter and begins walking to the door; Nguyen tells him to take the mug, but requests that he leave the money behind. The suspect then returns to the counter, reaches over and grabs an item, and then runs out of the door.
At this point, the second suspect jumps over the counter and immediately begins grabbing merchandise from shelves mounted on the wall; Nguyen then runs over to the suspect behind the counter with the sharp object he was holding in his hand and stabs the crook at least seven times.
During the struggle, the suspect begins screaming “He’s stabbing me! I’m dead! I’m dead!” before finally slumping down and going silent; Nguyen proceeds to drag the limp suspect around the counter and then dumps his body on the floor before retreating to the back of the store to call 911.
Nguyen would later state that “It was kind of adrenaline rush and fight or flight… even thinking about it now, my heart rate is a little bit elevated.”
Police report that both juvenile suspects have been placed under arrest, and that the individual that was stabbed – who police said was 17 years-old – was transported to the hospital; currently, his condition is unknown.
“I don’t think he planned on getting stabbed that day obviously, but if you try robbing a store you are taking a risk,” Nguyen said. “I remember him saying, ‘Please don’t let me die.’ He said he was sorry. By that point, he took off his mask himself. I was trying to get on the phone with the police when he was trying to talk to me. I just ran and wanted to make sure the police and ambulance would get here on time.”
Nguyen added that he would only be buzzing customers into the store going forward, and that he would now be armed at all times.
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