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70-year-old Korean War veteran wounds robber

Injured victim wounds robber
[Bad guy in jail where he belongs]


December 29, 2000

Ephriam Briggs' 50-pound key-cutting machine sits on the counter of his Chuck's Locksmith shop at 2623 Nine Mile Road.

When a customer came in Wednesday afternoon and asked him to make a key, the 70-year-old locksmith turned around to reach for a blank.

This gentleman was the wrong guy to mess with. Nice shootin', partner!
Locksmith Ephriam Briggs, 70, not only survived being hit in the head with a 50-pound key-cutting machine, he got back up and shot the man who attacked and robbed him. (DON LONG)

The next thing Briggs knew, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, and he fell to the floor. The man who had asked for the key had hit Briggs with the key-cutting machine.

Briggs was bleeding profusely from the gash and momentarily couldn't get to his feet.

"If you don't give me your wallet, I'll hit you again," the robber said, Briggs recalled yesterday.

Briggs said he handed up his wallet, "but I said to myself, 'I don't think he will get too far with it.'"

Dropping the key-making machine on the floor, the robber snatched Briggs' wallet and started out the door.

Briggs, a tough Korean War veteran, didn't stay down long. Still bleeding, he followed the robber out the door.

Briggs pulled out a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and fired, hitting the robber in the arm and knocking him down about 25 yards from the locksmith's shop.

Richmond police arrived shortly thereafter, about 1:30 p.m., and called for two ambulances, one for Briggs, one for the suspect. Both were taken to the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

After his head wound was stitched and bandaged, Briggs left for a hero's welcome home.

The accused robber stayed on for surgery and a stay at the hospital. And, on discharge, a date with police.

Police charged Gary Russell, 31, of Charles City, with felonious assault and robbery. Russell is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Richmond General District Court.

"The shop owner is not being charged with anything," police spokeswoman Christie Collins said yesterday.

Briggs was back at work at Chuck's Locksmith shop yesterday. Over the holidays he's taken off only Christmas Day, which he spent with his wife, two sons, two daughters and five grandchildren.

He said his head didn't hurt and the robbery hadn't marred his holiday.

"In this type of world," he said, "you've got to live with all the setbacks and anything bad that comes your way. You've got to learn to live with it.

"What happened is not going to bother me at all. I'm going on about my business."

Contact Jim Mason at (804) 649-6451 or Staff writer Bill Wasson contributed to this report.

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