Youngstown, FL – A trio of quick-thinking veteran law enforcement officers expertly subdued a hammer-wielding assailant inside a grocery store on Thursday, after one of the officers launched perfectly-aimed cans of beans at the attacker’s head (video below).
The incident began just after 11 a.m., when Justin Stanford, 25, crashed his vehicle near a Rainbow Foods supermarket, WMBB reported.
He then grabbed a hammer and charged into the store, where he threatened to shoot and kill those inside.
Sheriff Ford was on his way to lunch with Deputy Chief Joel Heape and Major Jimmy Stanford when frantic citizens began calling the station, the Panama City News Herald reported.
Callers said that Stanford – who is not related to Maj. Stanford – had fired at least one round, and that someone inside the store had been shot.
The trio responded to the scene and quickly spotted Stanford holding his hammer like a handgun. Stanford then pointed the tool towards the officers before he retreated back into the store.
They followed him inside, and were soon under attack.
“[He] came toward me and takes a swing at me with the hammer and I blocked the swing and hit him with the butt of the gun, and that knocked him back into a tray of lotion or something,” Deputy Heape said. “It went everywhere.”
Deputy Heape and Sheriff Ford followed Stanford as he took off down an aisle, while Maj. Stanford ran parallel to them in an adjacent aisle.
“My thinking is he’ll back into me and maybe I can grab him,” Maj. Stanford, a 29-year veteran of the department, later said.
“For whatever reason he turned when he got real close and sees me and my element of surprise is now gone, so there we are, the three of us.”
Surveillance footage from inside the store showed Maj. Stanford as he briefly stepped backwards, then grabbed a 16-ounce can of beans from the end of the aisle.
“He just suddenly went crazy again and when he raised the hammer, Jimmy went on his bean attack,” Deputy Heape said.
As Maj. Stanford proceeded around the corner of the display, he winged the beans at the suspect’s head.
The attacker ducked down after the impact, but Maj. Stanford wasn’t finished yet. He grabbed a second can from the shelf, and pelted the stunned assailant yet again, the video showed.
“My thoughts were I could take these and hit him with them and they’re not going to kill him, a less lethal alternative,” the major explained. “And it should get his attention diverted away from the sheriff and the chief and they could apprehend him.”
His quick-thinking strategy paid off.
“After Jimmy had hit him a couple of times, he turns and looks at Jimmy, and turns and looks at the sheriff and I, and charges,” Deputy Heape said. “I reached up and caught his arm swinging the hammer at me. He was slow. And then the sheriff was on him.”
The trio wrestled Stanford into handcuffs and hauled him to a local hospital to be treated for injuries he sustained in the earlier vehicle crash.
He was initially charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident with damage, and assault with a deadly weapon on an officer.
Despite the initial reports, no one was shot or injured during the incident.
While at the emergency room, Stanford tried to steal a duty weapon from the deputy who was guarding him, Newsweek reported.
His attempt was unsuccessful, but did earn him an additional charge of resisting arrest with violence.
You can watch the veteran trio’s takedown of the hammer-wielding assailant in the video below: