In a world that worships celebrities and fictional superheroes, we've made it our mission to find regular, everyday folks who stepped up in life or death circumstances, their own safety be damned. Because as we've mentioned once or twice (OK, more like thrice or ... fource?) before, the world is full of heroes. Whether they're exceptionally brave or simply insane, we'll let you decide:
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It's the oldest trick in the incompetent counterfeiter's handbook: Take a fake large-denomination bill into a convenience store, use it to buy a small-ticket item, trick the unsuspecting store clerk into handing over wads of real bills in change, and ... PROFIT! That's exactly what went down in a Vancouver Food Stop in 2010 -- with the exception of the "unsuspecting store clerk" part.
In the store were Cindy Grewal, who was working the counter that day, and a customer in a wheelchair that everyone probably just ignored. When an unnamed man tried to hand Grewal the fake bill, she was having none of that shit. She promptly told him to hit the door, at which point the would-be counterfeiter decided to try his hand at would-be convenience store robbing instead, muscling his way behind the counter to have his way with her cash drawers.
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Maybe if the drawers hadn't been dressed so provocatively.
That's when our third player -- the wheelchair-bound Larry Skopnik -- stepped in. Skopnik, having been in an ATV accident 10 years prior, was a paraplegic, but as soon as the altercation over (we assume) painstakingly crayoned funny money transformed into a robbery in progress, he sprang into action, launching his wheelchair toward the assailant at a speed that must have left skid marks on the waxy tile floor.
Grabbing the assailant in a headlock, Skopnik wrestled him to the ground and held him there. Once the threat was safely neutralized by the guy in the wheelchair, the able-bodied store patrons kicked into action -- while Skopnik held the thwarted counterfeiter/robber in a reverse full nelson, another customer administered a severe spanking with a nearby "CAUTION: Wet Floor" sign. Seriously. Here, watch the video:
According to Skopnik, "Just because I'm in a chair doesn't mean I can't stand up and do what's right." We'd say it's people like Skopnik and stories like this one that make us proud to be Americans, if only it hadn't happened in Canada.
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There are good days and bad days in this convoluted clusterfuck we call life. Some days you might find an extra 20 bucks in your drawers; other days you might have to throw haymakers at a predator with 200 million years of evolutionary experience in the field of flesh rending. This story falls into the latter category.
It's times like this you'll wish you would have paid attention to Mick Dundee instead of laughing at his folksy Outback charm.
On a routine father-son canoe trip in Florida, Joe Welch and his son, 6-year-old Joey, were paddling along when Joey fell into shallow water ... and smack dab into the waiting jaws of an 8-foot, 200-pound alligator. Joey's father, knowing that there was no way in hell he was going to paddle the canoe all the way back by himself, decided that the best course of action was to square up and unleash his fists of fury on the head of a living freaking dinosaur that outweighed him by a good quarter bill, an act that he later said "felt like I was hitting cinder block."
After hearing Welch's battle cry (and realizing that this was Florida and the crazy meter on a news story can't teeter anywhere south of 11), another unidentified man sprinted to the rescue. The good Samaritan phoned the nearest animal control office and calmly explained the situation, and the proper authorities were promptly dispatched. Only, no, that's not what happened at all.
Please enjoy this selection as you read the next paragraph.
After a dramatic entrance and a prolonged interrogation as to whether the gator could smell what the Rock was cookin', the unnamed man began repeatedly kicking the alligator right in the dick. Just, right in it. Meanwhile, Welch continued his bare-handed assault about the monster's head and neck. Having suffered one too many People's Elbows and fearing that the Rock Bottom was mere seconds away, the animal released little Joey and retired from its newfound human-wrestling career -- a retirement that was soon to be cut short by the business end of a wildlife official's rifle.
Inexplicably, the beast hadn't clamped down on little Joey with the full force of its serrated deathjaws, and the boy walked away with a few scrapes and a well-backed claim to the coolest dad this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.
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"So Jim is swimming out to save a drowning kid and all of a sudden this dude jumps in and just starts whaling on him ..."
It was just an average lunch hour at a Salt Lake City Arby's when in burst Curtis Allgier, a 27-year-old, 6-foot 1-inch, 200-pound, eerily grinning white supremacist. If the words "SKIN" and "HEAD" tattooed where Allgier's eyebrows should be (with a center swastika completing the unibrow look) didn't tip off the patrons that their quest for flaccid curly fries was about to end in disaster, the gun he was waving surely did. Allgier hadn't stepped into Arby's for some "freshly sliced" roast beef; no, he had just effected his escape from custody by way of brutally murdering a corrections officer, then led police on a high-speed chase that ended with his split-second decision to take a unique hostage in the form of a fast-food restaurant.
Allgier tossed out the standard "everybody on the ground" cliche before bounding over the counter and grabbing an employee in a headlock, warning the fast-food worker (who, by the way, seriously did not get paid enough for this shit) to hold still or be shot. The fry scooper-cum-hostage did the precise opposite of not move, and Allgier fired off a point-blank shot that inexplicably missed the person whom -- we repeat -- he was holding in a headlock at the time.
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Which he should have taken as a sign that perhaps he just wasn't cut out for this crime thing.
The gunshot was like a wake-up call for Eric Fullerton -- a 5-foot 6-inch grandfather of six and, oh, also a former Army paratrooper who saw action in the 'Nam. But instead of awakening religious enlightenment like Jules in Pulp Fiction, this gunshot awoke Fullerton's long-dormant Army training. He vaulted over the counter and latched onto Allgier's gun. The two struggled throughout the kitchen for control of the weapon, we're assuming in slow motion while surrounded by cinematic avalanches of still-frozen french fries and geysers of fry oil.
The skinhead, unable to wrestle the gun from Fullerton's G.I. Joe Kung-Fu Grip, used his free hand to grab a serrated knife and did his damnedest to thin-slice Fullerton's neck meat. Ignoring the stomach-turning sound of his flesh ripping, the visibly outmatched Fullerton didn't give up his struggle for control of the gun until he was able to rip it right out of the convict's hand. Fullerton kept the weapon trained on the no-longer-grinning escapee until the police arrived, presumably while staunching the blood flow from his tattered throat with his free hand and mumbling something about being "too old for this shit."
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Fullerton was then politely informed that only Arby's employees were permitted in the kitchen.
In July of 2013, 5-year-old Jocelyn Rojas was abducted by a man who lured her from her yard and into his vehicle by offering her ice cream, because little kids still fall for the oldest tricks in the book. Upon noticing her disappearance, Jocelyn's mother frantically called the police, who began scouring the area for the youngster, to no avail.
At the same time, Temar Boggs, 15, and his unnamed vigilante friend, either overcome with a sense of duty to save the little girl or determined to show everyone what people really will do for a Klondike Bar, switched into full-on Goonies mode, taking off on their bicycles with an unbending resolution to win the Tour de Molester.
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"Dude, wait up, let me queue my Cyndi Lauper playlist."
Roughly a half-mile away from her home, the boys spotted Jocelyn in the back of a sedan. The two teens chased the suspect's car on their bicycles for 15 exhilarating minutes as he swerved throughout the neighborhood, his maroon shitbox clearly outmaneuvered by the teens' fewer-wheeled transports. Realizing that he was being tailed by a pair of Joseph Gordon-Levitts from Premium Rush, the abductor stopped at the bottom of a hill, booted Jocelyn out, and sped off.
Boggs and his friend took a shaken but otherwise unharmed Jocelyn back to her distressed family, who lined up to deliver the teens' multimillion-dollar reward, to be entirely paid out in the form of extended bear hugs.
Sadly, the IRS took half for taxes.
Adding a down note to the tune of this story's happy ending, the suspect got away. He was described as a white male between the ages of 50 and 70, wearing green shoes, green pants, and a red-and-white-striped shirt. So apparently the residents of Lancaster have themselves a disgruntled Christmas elf on their hands.
Crazy person Charles Ronald Conner wound up in an armed standoff with police over the type of thing most of us just let slide: When a neighbor's dog took a dump in his yard, he shot the dog and its two owners. There was no reason to stop the rampage there, so when police sergeant Steven Means reported to the scene, he was instantly greeted with some good ol' Texas hospitality in the form of Conner's homemade bullet chili.
The secret ingredient is lead.
Means immediately returned fire with his AR-15, but was severely out-positioned by Conner, who had taken cover behind a nearby tree. And tree trunks, in case you weren't aware, make for much better cover than the sheet metal of your average police cruiser.
Things were looking grim until Vic Stacy, a resident of the same Peach House RV Park where the shooter and his victims lived, saw that Means was in serious danger of becoming eligible for a posthumous medal for this soon-to-be-fatal shootout. Stacy had himself a handgun and a perfect side view of the gunman, but he also had one major problem: He was 165 yards away. Just in case a steady diet of cop shows and action blockbusters has tainted your understanding of the range and accuracy of your average handgun, here's some context for you: A standard target at one of those indoor shooting ranges usually hangs somewhere south of 25 yards away. So this was that times seven.
Or 3.4 Hail Fluties.
Another way to put it is that making an accurate shot at a bad guy standing over 150 yards away with a pistol is only a smidge more likely than the bad guy getting unexpectedly devoured by a roving pack of rabid chupacabras. As a matter of fact, Stacy wasn't sure that his bullet could even hold up at that distance. But not being one to let little things like odds and the laws of physics stand in the way of justice, Stacy took aim, squeezed off a single shot ... and landed it directly in Conner's thigh.
As the gunman turned and fired on him, his shots landing around Stacy's feet and peppering his legs with gravel, Stacy showed him that the thigh wound was just a warning and proceeded to flip physics the bird three more times. By then, Means was able to make a few lead deposits of his own into the First Bank of Charles Ronald Conner -- an investment that ultimately saved the Texas criminal justice system the wads of cash they'd have blown on one of those pesky "trials."
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As Rhonda Carlsen awaited the approaching school bus with her children at their Albuquerque bus stop one day in early 2012, something quite out of the ordinary happened: The bus didn't stop. No, in the very antithesis of the entire concept of a bus stop, the bus just rolled right on by, picking up speed as it went. The driver, it turned out, had suffered a seizure and was barely conscious.
Everyone assumes it was the seizure, but did anyone bother to check for a Speed-type bomb first?
Carlsen knew that shit was about to get real. It was apparent from where she was standing that the driver had lost control of the vehicle -- a vehicle that, incidentally, was already carrying a load of grade school children and had absolutely no intention of spontaneously gaining sentience and pumping its own air brakes.
Realizing that she was the only one standing between a bus full of children and an episode of The Magic School Bus Explores the Bottom of the Rio Grande, Rhonda sprang into action, just her two feet against 12 tons of soon-to-be twisted metal. In what must have been one of the most inspirational examples of ghost-riding the whip ever documented, Carlsen sprinted alongside the speeding bus. Since the doors of a school bus can't be opened from the outside while the vehicle is in motion, Carlsen was forced to enlist the help of a third grader in the front seat, somehow managing to instruct him on how to work the door mechanism while still tearing along beside the bus at a full-on sprint.
The doors on the bus go "OPEN THE FUCK UP!"
The kid managed to get the door open, and after hurling herself into the moving bus, Carlsen gently shoved the drooling driver aside before slamming on the brakes and killing the ignition, thus simultaneously rescuing a bus full of kids and proving once and for all that Carlsen is a member of the most dangerous and important occupation of them all: being a mom.
Without fail, most of your favorite television shows let you down in the series finale. In our latest podcast, Dan O'Brien, Breandan Carter, and Adam Ganser join Jack O'Brien to discuss their version of finales that would've much improved the overall series. You can download it here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.
Related Reading: Ready for more? Dolph Lungren's face once scared a gang of burglars away. Next, read the incredible story of the world's tiniest Nazi fighter and then learn about the father and son who Bruce Lee'd a gang.
With this across your chest, self-defense is already handled.