“I opened the door and smoked ’em.”

Now that’s the start of a great story, but seriously – it gets better.

Three armed robbers in Theodore, Alabama thought 62-year-old Michael Irving would be the perfect victim. A few weeks ago, they reportedly broke into his home, robbing Irving of all his cancer medication, and leaving him with a threat: if he reported the robbery, they’d come back to harm him.

But Irving called the police to report the robbery anyhow and made sure he would be able to defend himself if the suspects returned.

Last Thursday night, that’s exactly what happened.

The three suspects showed up at Irving’s door again, this time armed with a handgun and a shotgun. Irving heard a tap on his front door and when he walked up to open the door, “that’s when he shot me,” he said.

Irving, a United States Marine Corps veteran, wasn’t about to be victimized again.

“That’s when I went to the cabinet here and back behind the coffee was an old time pistol,” said Irving. “I opened the door and smoked ’em.”

Irving managed to shoot all three suspects. Two of them fled the scene in a vehicle, but were found by Mobile County Sheriff’s Office deputies at a Dollar General Store just over two miles away after they reported being shot. The third suspect remained wounded at the home.

The suspects—identified as Casey Ray Gann, 29, Joseph Heathcock, 19, and Chaste Dulabhan, 24—were taken to a local hospital for treatment and arrested shortly thereafter. All three have been charged with assault second-degree, robbery first-degree, burglary first-degree and shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Irving is just one of many Americans who have defended themselves against a violent crime with a firearm, but he has some advice for the rest of us.

“It surprised me too but when someone just shot and is trying to kill you it just wakes up the dragon,” said Irving. “I learned that in the Marine Corps. You react and do before you get scared. Always react and do it before you get time to get scared.”

Watch Irving detail his ordeal: