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By Michael Hoffman – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jul 2, 2007 19:23:50 EDT
  A 71-year-old former “Marine One” helicopter pilot broke up an armed robbery at a Plantation, Fla., Subway restaurant last week, killing one alleged robber and hospitalizing another.

While John Lovell was finishing up his sandwich around 11:15 p.m. last Wednesday, 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.

“It’s tragic and I feel sorry for them,” said Lovell’s attorney and longtime friend Wesley White. Lovell did not return calls to his home Monday afternoon. “He did it to protect himself and the guy behind the Subway counter.”

Police will not charge Lovell. He owned a concealed weapons permit to carry the gun he used that night, White said.

“Lovell doesn’t want to talk about the incident right now because he is afraid the family members of the two men will come after him,” he said.

Gadson was charged with felony murder and armed robbery. According to Florida law, a person charged with a felony, such as armed robbery, resulting in death can also be charged with murder.

Lovell served with Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 — which transports the president, vice president and cabinet members — while John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson were in office, White said. After getting out of the Marine Corps as a major, Lovell flew with Pan-America and Delta, he said.

“Based on his Marine Corps training he was ready for that night,” White said.

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