Bob Jalali is an unlikely figure to be embraced by gun rights supporters. He says he favors President Obama's proposed gun control measures and although he once sold guns at a Prince William County pawn shop, he gave up the license because he didn't like being associated with the weapons.
But on March 7, when a customer at Pawn City in Woodbridge, Va., suddenly began stabbing him, Jalali saved his life by reaching for a handgun.
"I grabbed the gun," Jalali said. "When he saw the gun, he backed up and he started to run. I could have killed him at that time, when he was coming, but I couldn't. I said, ‘I can't take someone’s life.’"
In an exclusive interview with News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey, Jalali said he watched the attacker run out of the store and then called 911.
"When I was talking to 911, I felt like I'm going to die because the blood was just coming,” he said. “I thought, 'This is it.'"
Once emergency crews arrived he was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he spent the next 12 days, five of them in intensive care.
The suspect, 20-year-old Andre P. Poindexter, was arrested within hours of the incident.
"He just was nuts," said Jalali. "He told police he just wanted to kill somebody that day.”
Gun rights supporters took notice of the incident. Within a day of the attack, Jalali was called the "hero of the day" on an NRA web broadcast.
"I have a feeling if he did not have that gun, Woodbridge, Prince William police would have been called out to the scene of a homicide," said the show’s host.
Jalali doesn't disagree.
"In this case it did help me, the gun," he said.
But Jalali believes if his attacker had also had a handgun, he would not have been skilled enough to protect himself.
The incident hasn't changed his views on gun control, he said. While he has a gun at work, he does not have one at home.
"I always said we are paying the police to protect us," said Jalali. "Even if I lose my life, I have to think a gun belongs in the hands of police, not regular citizens.”
But Jalali said the attack on him has influenced his son, who now questions some gun control proposals. Jalali also admits he will continue to have a gun at work.
"I'm going to keep the gun,” he said. “Whether it helps me another time, I don't know."
His biggest challenge right now is paying more than $70,000 in hospital bills. Jalali has no insurance.
His son set up a web page accepting contributions: http://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/p922/bobjalalimedical.