Fact Check

John Lovell - Subway Shooting

A 71-year-old former Marine broke up an armed robbery at a Subway sandwich shop in Florida?

Published Feb 20, 2012

Claim:   A 71-year-old former Marine broke up an armed robbery at a Subway sandwich shop in Florida.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February 2012]

Gotta love the concealed hand gun law!

Retired Marine and former Pan Am/Delta Pilot John Lovell is Top Gun at Subway Sandwich Shop

Plantation, Florida: Last week police were called to investigate an attempted armed robbery: The 71-year-old retired Marine who opened fire on two robbers at a Plantation, Florida, Subway shop late Wednesday, killing one and critically wounding the other, is described as John Lovell, a former helicopter pilot for two presidents. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, and he works out every day. Mr. Lovell was a man of action Wednesday night.

According to Plantation police, two masked gunmen came into the Subway at1949 N. Pine Rd. just after 11 p.m. There was a lone diner, Mr. Lovell, who was finishing his meal. After robbing the cashier, the two men attempted to shove Mr. Lovell into a bathroom and rob him as well. They got his money, but then Mr. Lovell pulled his handgun and opened fire. He shot one of the thieves in the head and chest and the other in the head.

When police arrived, they found one of the men in the shop, K-9 Units found the other in the bushes of a nearby business. They also found cash strewn around the front of the sandwich shop according to Detective Robert Rettig of the Plantation Police Department.

Both men were taken to the Broward General Medical Center , where one, Donicio Arrindell, 22, of North Lauderdale died. The other, 21-year-old Frederick Gadson of Fort Lauderdale is in critical but stable condition.

Mr. Lovell was a pilot in the Marine Corps, flying former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He later worked as a pilot for Pan Am and Delta Airlines.

He is not expected to be charged authorities said. ''He was in fear for his life,'' Detective Rettig said, "These criminals ought to realize that most men in their 70's have military backgrounds and aren't intimidated by idiots."

Something tells me this old Marine wasn't 'in fear for his life', even though his life was definitely at risk. The only thing he could be charged with is participating in an unfair fight. One 71- year young Marine against two punks. Two head shots and one center body mass shot.

Outstanding shooting! That'll teach them not to get between a Marine and his meal.

Florida law allows eligible citizens to carry a concealed weapon. Don't you just love a story with a happy ending?


Origins:   The above item, circulated in February 2012, is a recapitulation of a shooting that took place in June 2007 at a Subway sandwich shop in Plantation, Florida, when a 71-year-old former Marine pilot named John Lovell broke up an armed robbery attempt, killing one robber and hospitalizing another. According to a Marine Corps Times account of the incident:

While John Lovell was finishing up his sandwich around 11:15 p.m., two masked men armed with guns barged into the restaurant, according to a statement from the Plantation police. After taking money from the register, the two men turned to Lovell and demanded his wallet, police said.

As the two tried to force Lovell into the ladies' room where he thought he would be killed, the former Marine reached behind his back to grab his .45-caliber handgun, which he fired seven times at the two men, according to the police statement.

Donicio Arrendell, 22, of North Lauderdale, was fatally shot in the head and chest. Frederick Gadson, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, ran from the store after he was shot in the chest, according to the police statement. A police canine unit found him hiding next to a nearby bank. He was sent to Broward General Hospital and was listed in stable condition.

John Lovell was not charged by the police, as he acted in self-defense and held a concealed weapons permit to carry the gun he had on him that night. The surviving gunman, Frederick Gadson, was charged with felony murder (for the death of his accomplice) and armed robbery.

Last updated:   20 February 2012


    Hoffman, Michael.   "Former Marine Thwarts Subway Robbery, Kills 1."

    Marine Corps Times.   2 July 2007.

    WSVN-TV [Miami].   "Ex-Marine Shoots Suspects Who Attempted to Rob Sandwich Shop"

    29 June 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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