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http://www.rcdsa.org/norcorobbery/index.html Copyright 2010 Riverside Sheriffs' Association In 1980, Security Pacific Bank in Norco, California, was robbed, setting off one of the most violent police pursuits in American history. The lessons learned from the robbery changed the face of law enforcement; the Norco bank robbery is still studied in academies. This website is hosted by the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and is perhaps the most comprehensive account of the robbery available on the internet Article by Shirlee Pigeon http://www.rcdsa.org/norcorobbery/tribute.html • • • • • • • • • 1 bank robbery 1 25-mile running gun battle from Norco to the San Bernardino foothills 33 patrol cars damaged or completely destroyed 1 sheriff’s helicopter shot down Numerous civilians shot at 2 robbers dead 3 robbers imprisoned, life without parole 8 wounded Deputies — Heroes all 1 dead Deputy — Hero
It was about 10:45 p.m., in her front yard, when Mary Evans got official word that her husband, Deputy James Evans, had been shot and killed — a casualty in one of the most daring and bloody bank holdups and subsequent chases in Southern California history. But long before the “official” notice, Mary knew something was wrong. She had first heard about the holdup when she checked in after completing her nightshift driving an RTA bus. An office worker told her about a Norco bank holdup, where “someone was killed.” “Not my husband,” thought Mary Evans. Then the office worker added: “Your baby-sitter called and your husband never showed up to pick up James” (their five-month-old baby). Mary knew he never missed picking James up at the baby-sitter’s and often stayed for dinner with the baby-sitter and her family who lived nearby and were family friends.
“Then I knew something was terribly wrong,” recalls Mary. It was. Dep. Evans had been ambushed and killed in the foothills of San Bernardino at approximately 4:30 p.m. Mary Evans was officially notified about six hours later at her home by then Riverside County Sheriff Ben Clark. Dep. Evans, 39, was one of hundreds of law enforcement officers, including many Riverside County Deputies, who was drawn into the Friday afternoon melee. It all began around 3 p.m. in Norco when five masked men wearing fatigue jackets and wielding semi-automatic weapons ran inside the Security Pacific Bank at Fourth Street and Hamner Avenue. After they forced bank tellers to hand over about $20,000, they fled in a van they had earlier carjacked near Brea in Orange County. However, the theft began to go awry for the gang. A teller in a bank across the street had seen them enter Security Pacific and phoned authorities. As the gang exited the bank, they were confronted by Riverside County Deputy Glyn Bolasky, who was first to arrive on the scene just seconds after the robbery began. Glyn Bolasky was 24 at the time. These are some of the highlights of May 9, 1980, that he recalls: He remembers going to the station for his assignment that day. “You go to Norco,” he was told. He thought to himself, “I don’t want to go back to Norco; I’d rather go to Moreno Valley.” That’s where he lived, he explained. He went to Norco. He remembers going to the sheriff’s department garage to get his lightbar on his patrol car fixed. Seems the red solid light was burned out, so he had it replaced. This detail becomes significant later. So that Friday afternoon he set out to Norco from the main downtown station. He recalls checking his beat, watching kids get out of school. “I was zig-zagging around, headed down Hamner toward Corona when I got the call -- the 211 in progress at Security National Bank,” said Bolasky. He says he was probably 500-800 yards away from the scene at the time. “It was just pure chance that I was driving down that end of the road at the time the call came in,” he recalls. He remembers “turning on the equipment, not the siren, just the lights,” as he turned toward the left-hand side of the bank. Then he heard a popping noise. He thought it was the light bar, which had been changed that morning by the sheriff’s garage superintendent. “They must have put the wrong lightbulb in,” he thought to himself. Wrong. He was being fired at; it was a bullet that took out his lightbar. “They were
shooting at me; I was in trouble,” he said. Also going through his head at this time was this flash: “Now I have to explain how I damaged equipment.” As he pulled into the bank’s parking lot, he confronted three of the gunmen coming out the door. Although his first reaction was to drive right into them, using his patrol car as a battering ram, he quickly realized that he probably could only take out one of them that way, so he thought otherwise. “My brain was into superdrive now,” he recalls. The noise was deafening, his windows were “getting shattered and spiderwebbing” by the shots from R-15s. For a “quick second, I thought ‘this isn’t real. People with machine guns shooting at me! People with hooded ski masks, wearing khaki green jackets, firing at me -- this isn’t real.’” Then he got shot. He knew then it was real. He took a bullet in the left shoulder, as well as fragments in the face and right arm. Bolasky dove under the dashboard, threw his car in reverse and backed up, thinking all the time, “Hope I don’t hit somebody.” As he backed up, two cars did crash, but his vehicle was not one of them. By now, the gunmen had blown out his tires. “I got out of the car, got behind the engine block, taking the shot gun with me. They all were loading into the van. This all transpired in a matter of seconds,” he said. “I saw a guy closing the two back doors. The van came toward me. I got up,” said Bolasky. At this point it was quiet, no shooting. He describes the silence as “a deafening quiet.” He then fired four rounds from the shotgun into the back of the van. He recalls all of this action “happening in slow motion,” almost a surreal experience. A second in time seemed like an hour. It was as if it were happening to someone else. “I saw the van do a weave and crash into the fence. I took off and ran, threw the shotgun away (now emptied of its four rounds) and curled around the front tire again with my revolver,” recalls Bolasky. Not aware at this time that his firing at the van had killed the driver, Bolasky saw “the guys getting out of the van and they started firing lots of rounds at my car.” It wasn’t until a day or two later, recalls Bolasky, that he learned he had shot and killed the van’s driver. During all this, he was also calling for help on his radio. “Although I wanted help I didn’t want anybody to get stuck in the middle like I was,” said Bolasky.
“My face was wet and warm now,” he remembers. Blood was flowing freely from his elbow. It was at about this time “when I probably went into shock.” He had been hit four times inside the car, abrasion type wounds, but he could still move “all extremities.” He thought then that he was either going to bleed to death or pass out. Deputy Rolf Parkes was working midwatch with Deputy Glyn Bolasky, the 11 a.m. to 1 a.m shift. “We were sitting and briefing,” he recalls, and the conversation went something like this: “Who’s going to work Norco today?....Think there’s going to be a riot at Rubidoux High School.” So, Parkes says he, being newer with the department, naturally wound up working Rubidoux and Bolasky took Norco. He recalls that he was in the “middle of a ticket when things went down.” The Norco Bank Robbery. “I could hear [Dep.] Bolasky shouting and screaming on the radio. All hell was breaking loose.” He remembers that he stopped writing the ticket, got back in his patrol car, and drove down Limonite Avenue toward Norco. “All I knew was Glyn Bolasky needed help, that was one thing for sure,” said Parkes. Meanwhile, Deputies Charles Hille and Andy Delgado were minutes away in the north part of Norco. They jumped into their separate cars, taking different routes to the bank, so as to converge on the bank from different angles. This is how Dep. Hille recalls that fateful afternoon in Norco: “Normally there were two officers assigned to Norco; that day, there was an overlap in the shifts, so there were three of us: Glyn Bolasky, who was just coming on duty, Andy Delgado and me, who were soon going off duty.” “We heard that there was a 211 in progress at the bank. Glyn Bolasky was already pulling into the bank parking lot at that second to cash his check. We heard Bolasky radio, ‘I’m 97’ (meaning, ‘I’m here.’) He reported seeing five suspects at the bank, one outside sitting in the van as a lookout, four inside. “The guy outside saw Bolasky pull in, jumped out of his vehicle and opened up on Bolasky’s vehicle. Bolasky saw him close, about 20 or 30 yards, he ducks. His windshield is blown out.” Hille paused for a moment and continued: “I really admire Bolasky. He’s a rookie, and he had the presence of mind to throw the car in reverse and floor it. Since he was crouched down and couldn’t see, when the vehicle backed out into the street, it crashed into another car. This spun his car around, becoming a shield for him.” Then Bolasky
got out, finding cover behind a front wheel. Meanwhile, according to Hille, the four robbers still in the bank heard the “lookout” cranking off rounds and ran out of the bank and jumped in the green getaway van, which pulled out onto Fourth Street, all the while shooting at Bolasky’s car. Again, Hille pauses in relating the incident and reaffirms his admiration for the rookie, stating, “I really admire him. He jumps up as they are shooting at him and fires his shotgun through the van as they are driving away from him. A shotgun pellet lodged in the head of the driver.” The van, now disabled, crashed into a tree. The driver, Belisaro Delgado, was dead, slumped over the steering wheel. The four passengers bailed out of the van, opening fire on Bolasky. Hille recounts that Bolasky described them as “standing four abreast and pumping out rounds — all kinds of automatic weapons, clips taped to each other, 30-round clips.” Dep. Bolasky was hit again, this time in the arm. Forty-seven bullet holes riddled his patrol car. While all of this went down, which took a little over a minute, Deputies Delgado and Hille heard the shooting and were nearing the scene from different directions. “We heard Bolasky over the radio screaming, ‘Help me, help me, 211 in progress; they’ve got automatic weapons. Get me some backup quick.’ I could hear the terror in his voice,” recalls Hille. Hille, by giving, once again, his account of May 9, was opening a painful door which had been shut for many years. He continued: “As I was heading in the direction of the bank I could see his [Bolasky’s] vehicle turned sideways in the street and realized he was down by the car with his gun. “I heard two loud pops. My God, those are bullets hitting my car. I realized they were shooting at me,” remembers Hille, pausing as he resurrects details of May 9, 1980. At this point Hille says he recalled some advice from a training film: if ever taking fire, take evasive action, pull away and secure yourself. He did. He pulled the “car behind a little building in a field to the side.” He got out and immediately saw Bolasky, who was back on the radio: “My God, My God, I’m shot. Please help me!” “I can see his vehicle from the dirt field. I knew I’d better go get him. We always take care of each other. I left my vehicle and ran across the dirt field. Without my car, I was not as big a target. Take a chance, I told myself. You’re not thinking about your own life; we’re trained to get there, so that’s what you do,” said Hille. As Dep. Hille ran across the field, the gunmen were shooting at him. “They were shooting from the hip, and lucky for me, they were lousy shots,” said Hille. “When I got to Bolasky’s car, he was in shock — scared, cold, with his hand covering the elbow wound. He was so relieved to see me. I knelt down beside the vehicle. Bullets were going through the vehicle and out the other side; that’s how powerful they
were. I felt safest behind the motor and the front wheel well.” Dep. Bolasky told Dep. Hille that he had emptied his gun: “My gun’s not loaded.” “Give me your gun,” said Dep. Hille, who then reloaded Bolasky’s weapon and put it back in his hand, showing remarkable presence of mind while under fire. “I remember saying to him, ‘Glyn, where are these people?’ as I hadn’t yet seen a suspect. He replied, ‘They’re moving around a lot. Chuck, they got automatic weapons and are in camouflage outfits.’ “‘We need to get out of here. They’re not going away,’ I told Bolasky,” said Hille. “There was a huge tree behind us. ‘Can you run?’ I asked him. He replied, ‘I think so.’” So they ran for cover. “I knew the bullets couldn’t get through the tree,” said Hille. At this point, he knew “we were outgunned, but I figured, what the hell.” By this time, Dep. Delgado had arrived and “was cranking off rounds at them. This drew the focus on himself and off of us. It sounded like Vietnam.” This cover gave Dep. Hille a chance to run back to his car. During that brief period of time while Hille went to retrieve his vehicle so he could load Bolasky into it, Bolasky was alone behind the tree. “I’m there watching the bad guys. All of a sudden, a civilian came out of nowhere and stood in front of me, saying ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” Bolasky told the stranger, “If you don’t lay down now, you’re a dead man.” The man disappeared, recalls Bolasky. Hille then drove back “serpentine style” to the tree and Bolasky. “I swung the car around, the back door was open and he fell into the back seat, feet dangling from the car. I remember telling him, ‘I’m going to floor this, get you around the corner, then pull your feet in.” He did. Hille then radioed ahead to Corona Community Hospital, where “everybody was ready for Bolasky when we arrived.” Parkes describes the scene at this time, a little after 3:30 p.m., as “maximum intensity going on.” As he drew closer and closer to the bank site, he heard “rounds going off” and realized he was coming upon something big. “Delgado reported that the suspects were fleeing the area, but there was some confusion as to whether some still remained in the area. I heard that [Dep.] Darrell Reed had been shot in the leg, and they were shooting at Dep. Doug Borden.” After wounding Bolasky, the remaining four heavily armed bank robbers commandeered a pickup truck from the bank parking lot. In abandoning their van, they also left behind the money they had taken from the bank, about 2,000 rounds of ammunition and 15 homemade bombs.
The 25-mile chase began, first leading to Mira Loma. It was soon after that Dep. Rolf Parkes pulled off onto the shoulder, with the right side of his car up against a horse corral. He saw the [suspects’] yellow pickup truck coming down the street, with three gunmen shooting out the back end at Dep. Borden’s vehicle. “I could see the truck clearly now. The driver was looking at me, coming into my lane,” said Parkes. He thought: “What’s he going to do?” Dep. Parkes stayed in his unit, making “myself as small as possible between the seat and the car. They drove by and started shooting the crap out of my car. Four guys were shooting at me. Bullets were striking metal, glass breaking, glass flying all over the car.” One round ricocheted and “hit me on the top of the head,” resulting in a scalp wound. He later discovered that a piece of glass had lodged in his right eye. “I thought I was going to be killed right there. They drove by slowly, firing across the side of the car. They never stopped shooting. Now I’m getting all their attention,” recalls Parkes. And the four surviving gunmen kept their attention and gunfire focused on Dep. Parkes and his car until the truck came to a bend in the road which put Parkes out of their sight. The rounds had now stopped. Dep. Parkes checked himself. “I was still all there. I can’t believe I’m still alive at this time. I felt so helpless, like this is it, like being in a firing squad,” said Parkes. Then Parkes made a U-turn and proceeded to follow the yellow truck and its four shooters. Again, they began shooting at him. “You could hear those rounds snapping on the ground. It was a distinctive sound, nothing like I had heard before, like the crack of a bullwhip.” He pursued them northbound on Etiwanda Avenue. “I’m putting out their position, realizing that they are far away from me. I realized they were shooting automatic rifles and could see them taking aim at me,” said Parkes. Other deputies were also wounded while still in the Mira Loma vicinity. Dep. Darrell Reed soon joined Bolasky at Corona Community Hospital. He had been shot in the knee during the chase. Now, Dep. Herman Brown’s unit enters Etiwanda and “all of a sudden he’s enveloped as they start shooting at Brown. Glass is exploding. I thought he was going to be dead for sure. They are shooting in all directions. I pull up adjacent to Brown. I remember thinking ‘thank God, he’s alive.’” Dep. Brown, who had attended the Academy with Parkes, had been shot in the leg. Dep. Parkes continued. A few seconds later his windshield took a shot dead center.
“I recall that other patrol cars had been stopped at this point. Dep. McDaniels had been hit in the shoulder and was on the way to the hospital. I pulled over to the shoulder to put some distance between us,” said Parkes, adding, “you can never have enough distance between yourself and an assault rifle.” At this point, CHP units entered the chase, following the yellow truck down Jurupa Avenue. The streets are alive with bullets. Parkes continues on and looks at his engine dials -- all dead. “Am I out of gas or is the gauge broken? The front end is sinking and I know the tires are going out.” Dep. Parkes had to abandon his car at this point and, taking the shotgun with him, gets into another unit, driven by Dep. Fred Chisholm. He describes the scene they next encountered as “a graveyard of police cars.” There were four cars lined up in a row, shot to pieces, holes in the windshields, cars belonging to Rudy Romo and Tony Reynard, who had been shot in the elbow, and a couple of CHP units, as well as some civilian cars. By now the fleeing 1969 pickup truck was headed toward the freeway, with the Deputies being given its location by the Riverside Police helicopter overhead. The Chisholm-Parkes car was the only black and white following at this time. “We were heading northbound toward Devore and became the lead car,” remembers Parkes. The fleeing gang took to the I-15. It was at this point, according to reports, that the occupants began hurling homemade bombs or grenades from the back of the truck. An account in the Los Angeles Times states that one of the officers reported over his radio: “They’re throwing all sorts of stuff at us.” The Times also reported that a CHP officer, Dennis Johnson, described the bandits as “very professional with military backpacks, gas masks and military-type banana clips (ammunition).” By now, the Riverside deputies had been joined by units from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department as well as the California Highway Patrol, Fontana Police Department and the Ontario Police Department. A Riverside Police Department helicopter and a San Bernardino Sheriff’s helicopter also joined in the chase. He recalls that there wasn’t much traffic on the freeway at the time and being the only car in the chase now “we were taking tremendous fire.” He added that the bank robbers were “not in a fast vehicle, that the truck was not capable of speeding, but it was a strong vehicle.” It was about this time that a San Bernardino Sheriff’s Dept. helicopter got into the chase, diverting some of the fire from the patrol car. “The underskin of the helicopter was fired upon, the helicopter caught fire and was forced to land,” reports Parkes. By now “the cavalry kind of catches up -- CHP, Ontario PD, San Bernardino Sheriff’s, etc. The occupants of the yellow truck now started “throwing explosives at us and were still shooting at the same time. Rounds were coming through the center of our windshield.”
During this extensive and intense interview with Dep. Parkes, one could readily discern that he was revisiting a nightmarish chapter of his life. He paused and said, “It is still haunting me today -- the snapping sound of bullets striking metal.” By this time, this second car was taking a beating. “The radiator starts to heat up, steam pours out, we start to lose power. The car is dying,” recalls Parkes. Dep. Chisholm, the driver, kept his foot on the accelerator, and “we kept going; it was the only thing we could do. We had our shotguns, our 38s, and our bare hands. No fire power actually,” said Parkes. It was late afternoon when Mary Evans was driving her bus along a familiar route. She remarked to a passenger, “Something must be wrong. I haven’t seen a police car all afternoon. It’s awfully quiet, wonder why.” She had been accustomed to seeing patrol cars, CHP units, etc., as she covered her route, frequently exchanging friendly waves with the officers. Not on May 9. They were elsewhere. It was about this time that the pickup truck sped off the freeway toward Lytle Creek, where another sheriff’s vehicle was disabled by gunfire. During the chase, the bandits fired semi-automatic weapons and hurled bombs at scores of pursuing cars and civilian motorists. According to a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s report, Dep. Evans was in the lead when the getaway truck started up Sierra Avenue toward Lytle Creek and then entered the canyon. Mary recalls having troubling thoughts during the day as she went about her work as a bus driver. “I could feel it. I knew something was wrong. It was in the air — strange. A bad day.” | Driving the 1969 truck was Christopher Harven; firing from the bed of the pickup truck were Russell Harven, Manuel Delgado, brother of the already slain Belisaro, and George Smith. Dep. Parkes’ black and white finally is disabled and succumbs. “Now we are off the freeway on Sierra Avenue on the way to Lytle Creek. All the others have passed us. Dep. Jim Evans then takes over the pursuit,” said Dep. Parkes. In a pursuit which had been led by Dep. Parkes, then by Dep. Parkes with Dep. Chisholm, “He [Dep. Evans] becomes me,” said Dep. Parkes, referring to Dep. Evans now taking the lead position. A second San Bernardino helicopter was now overhead, but due to a difference in radio frequencies could not make contact with the Riverside patrol units. Dep. Evans, whose car was now first in line, could not receive the helicopter broadcast because his car radio did not pick up the helicopter’s CLEMAR frequency (CLEMAR: California Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio).
“One of the sergeants, Sgt. Bender of Narcotics, is in his plain car and can communicate with the helicopter through his handheld radio which did have CLEMAR,” said Dep. Parkes. “Again, I get out of a disabled car, and with Dep. Chisholm we jump in Dep. Mike Jordan’s unmarked car, an old gray Ford Granada. “Sgt. Bender is receiving information from the helicopter, but by this time it is useless to Dep. Evans. It was too late.” The pursuit continued past the Stockton Campgrounds onto a washed out dirt road, forcing the truck to halt. Then the gunmen abandoned their truck and waited in ambush for the pursuit to round a bend. When Deputy Jim Evans pulled into view, a deadly gun battle followed. Just prior to the ambush, Evans’ radioed accounts and the chronology of Evans’ last minutes went something like this: Evans: “Looks like they are going to lay back behind a curve for us.” The helicopter broadcast a warning that the four robbers had stopped, gotten out of their truck and were waiting for Evans, who was leading the pursuit. Evans’ patrol car was unequipped to receive the report. A sergeant who could hear the helicopter tried to warn Evans -- unsuccessfully. Dispatcher: “Evans, are you okay?” Evans: “Ya, I’m okay.” Evans: “There is a blind curve ahead. I don’t know how far back we are.” Unidentified deputy: “Jim, how we doing?” Evans: “Looks like they are going to lay back behind a curve for us. Have radio advise the chopper to keep a lookout. Tell him if they stop, that’s what we want to know.” Evans: “...I’ve got the lead unit now. What are they doing?” Evans: “We are coming up on a big curve. What are they doing? Are they moving?” It was at this point that Evans’ windshield was hit by several bullets. Evans: “Okay, I’m hit.” His transmission ended. He opened his door and rolled out to the back of his unit. He continued to fire his revolver at the bandits. He reloaded and fired again. A bullet from
a high-powered rifle fired by one of the robbers struck him in the left eye. He died instantly. Now in the unmarked car, Dep. Parkes sees civilians walking around in the Lytle Creek area with rifles, there probably for target shooting. He recalls telling one man, “I need your rifle; we’re following some cop killers, as he was under the impression at this point that several officers had been killed. The man replied that he was out of ammo. He then approached “another guy, who had a 22 and a pocketful of ammo. He gave me his rifle without question.” Dep. Parkes recalls then taking off with Jordan and Chisholm in the old unmarked car down the bumpy fireroad. The road was intended for speeds of 10 miles per hour; they were doing 50. He described trying to load the gun while being “airborne.” Then they came to a stop in the road, where the pursuit ended. “We were behind some other cars. As we got out of the car, we could hear a major fuselage of ammo. It was deafening, echoing. They were shooting at Evans,” recalls Parkes. “We could see the suspects at the point in the road where it was washed out in front of them. We started shooting at them. The distance was great, about 1/4 mile across a ravine with tall trees.” Then they were out of view. This was unfamiliar territory. “We were left with our 38’s and bare hands. We were outgunned and outmanned,” said Parkes. While at the hospital, McCarty and Parkes had an opportunity to talk. Parkes relates: “He told me he had been at the end of his watch, actually off duty, when he heard of the chase. They kept an assault rifle inside their station, and he asked to bring it to the scene. Another San Bernardino deputy drove him to the station, and McCarty gets the rifle and ammo. McCarty is totally unfamiliar with the weapon. “They wind up as the second car in the chase behind Evans. He’s off duty and that weapon is all he is armed with,” said Parkes. When the big shootout takes place, and the gunmen are walking down the hill to shoot everybody, Parkes states that McCarty gets out of his unit and hits the ground. “He sees that Evans has gone down, that he is in the dirt,” said Parkes. Dep. Parkes says that the “suspects were walking toward McCarty. McCarty, who soon figures out how to work the rifle, reaches over the hood of his car and starts squeezing the trigger. When the suspects hear the rifle, they realize their firepower is now being matched.” The four gunmen decided not to shoot it out at this time. “There would have been a lot more dead cops on that road if not for that weapon,” said Parkes. After they were later captured, Parkes said the suspects stated that their “intent was to fight to the death.” Parkes, now an officer with the Irvine Police Department, had been with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department “just less than three years” at the time of the Norco bank robbery.
He estimates in looking back that he was probably in the heat of the action, that is, under live fire, that May 9 day for about 45 to 50 minutes. “I stayed in as long as I could,” he recalls. “The number one asset we officers rely on is each other. Each of us becomes dependent on one another and acts accordingly. It’s you and your partners that matter the most.” Again, Parkes paused, dug deeper into the painful memories of that fateful May afternoon, and said: “All of these guys acted with uncommon valor, the degree of which you don’t see much of in this country. Putting their lives at risk, regardless of their loved ones at home. They won’t give up. Not too many people are placed in that position -- to have to fight with 38’s.” Mary said her husband , a five-year veteran of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, had been a First Lieutenant in the Green Berets during the Vietnam War, and as a former military man he knew it was essential to have the best equipment, training and communication. Her husband had told her about two months before his death: “Something big is going to go down, and we’re not going to be ready for it. We’re going to lose a lot of men here. This county’s growing; we need to have two men to a car, not one-man units. We need to be better equipped.” Mary Evans was told later that Sheriff Frank Bland, San Bernardino County Sheriff, was at the scene. He was the one who “got my husband and personally carried Jim’s body and placed it in his personal unit to carry him back.” When Mary Evans returned to the RTA office after her shift and received the news about the Norco holdup and the news that her husband had not picked up their infant son at the baby-sitter’s, she immediately called the Sheriff’s Department. “I talked to someone in charge, asked him, ‘Where is my husband? Is he okay? He never picked up our son, so there is a problem. He never missed picking him up.’” The voice on the other end replied, “Well, Mrs. Evans, I can’t say anything to you over the telephone. I’m going to send a car for you.” She waited in the RTA dispatch office, and a deputy picked her up. “Tension was building; it was hard,” recalls Mary Evans. She recalls as soon as he pulled up to her house she saw Sheriff Clark in the front yard. Then Mary asked probably the most difficult question in her life: “My husband is dead, isn’t he?” The Sheriff said nothing but nodded his head “yes.” Following the savage ambush, the robbers fled by foot into the mountainous wilderness, leaving a bloody trail. Almost 200 officers searched the area through the night. According to reports, three of the men surrendered to officers in the canyon in the early morning hours of May 11. Another member of the gang was located by early afternoon, refused to surrender, and was subsequently shot by L.A. Sheriff’s Office SWAT officers.
Six other Riverside deputies were wounded during an ensuing exchange of fire which ended in the San Bernardino foothill area of Lytle Creek. Several civilians were also injured, none seriously. Riverside Sheriff’s deputies wounded and hospitalized included: Darrell Reed, gunshot wound in his leg; Glyn Bolasky, buckshot wounds in the left arm and chest; Anthony Reynard, shot in the arm. Others injured were Deputies Herman Brown, Ken McDaniels and Rolf Parkes. Other participating deputies from Riverside County were: Andy Delgado, Chuck Hille, Doug Borden, Fred Chisholm, Rudy Romo, Dave Madden and Mike Jordan. Mary Evans will never forget that day. “May 9th was a strange day, right from the beginning. That morning while I was getting the baby ready to go to the baby-sitter’s, Jim stopped by with his patrol unit. While I was getting ready for work, he gently held James on his knee, leaned over, kissed his cheek and looked at me. He said, ‘You know, some men never get to see their sons grow up.’” Dep. Jim Evans was one of those men.
A Look Back: A fierce gun battle during a robbery in Norco still reverberates
http://www.pe.com/localnews/publicsafety/stories/PE_News_Local_W_whistory18.483e 2a9.html 10:00 PM PDT on Saturday, April 17, 2010 By NITA HILTNER Special to The Press-Enterprise The Norco Security Pacific Bank robbery on Friday, May 9, 1980, is considered one of the most violent running gun battles in American history. Online, it is listed alongside a Butch Cassidy bank robbery and the violent bank robberies of Bonnie and Clyde. "The Norco Bank Robbery isn't just a local story, it's part of American history," said Tom Pigeon, special events coordinator for the Riverside Sheriff's Association. "The 23-mile running gun battle was remarkably destructive. It's a wonder more people weren't killed." On that day in the Riverside County community, 33 police cars were destroyed or damaged, a police helicopter was hit by gunfire and forced to land, eight officers were wounded and Riverside Deputy Jim Evans was shot and killed. Two robbers died, three went to prison for life without the possibility of parole. The suspects were chased from Norco to the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The event forever changed the way police and FBI are trained in pursuit and safety and how they are armed. The Riverside Sheriffs' Association will host a luncheon "The Norco Bank Robbery 30th Anniversary: A Tribute to Law Enforcement" on May 21, at the Lake Norconian Club in Norco. Pigeon said he's reached 12 to15 people who attended the 20th anniversary event and is still seeking others who might want to attend the 30th anniversary event. He wants to video people's experiences that day or later to keep a record, as the people involved are aging. "I am interested too in the civilians involved, people who were there in the street," he said. One 12 year-old bike rider outside the bank was grazed by a bullet. Pigeon said the widow of Deputy Jim Evans, Mary, and her son, James, will attend the event.
BEGINNINGS On May 9, five heavily armed men stole a van, took the owner hostage, then planted a homemade bomb near a gas main about a block from the bank to draw attention from the robbery. Armed with automatic weapons and 12-gauge shotguns, four of the robbers entered the bank. They gathered up $20,000. Norco resident Debi Paggen Schleuning opened the door to the bank, saw the robbery taking place. She turned and saw the van. She backed away and turned around and saw that the van driver had pointed a gun at her. She looked driver in the eye and told him, "Go ahead and rob the bank, I'm not going in there." She ran around the corner and headed toward a real estate office, which is now the Cowgirl Cafe. Gunfire began, and she said there was so much, you couldn't count the shots. The shots were pinging against the cars lined up on Hamner, and their drivers got out and ran. "It sounded like machine guns," she said. "It was total chaos." Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Glyn Bolasky pulled up in his police cruiser. The 17 year-old getaway driver, Belisaro Delgado, radioed the men inside the bank. The robbers dropped the cash and ran outside and began firing at Bolasky, who put his car in reverse as his windshield was blown out. A gunfight ensued as all five men jumped into the van and began to leave. The gunmen fired over 200 rounds at Bolasky. Forty-seven of them penetrated his police car. Bolasky was hit five times in the left shoulder, face, both forearms and the left elbow. Later it would be determined the robbers had thousands of rounds of ammunition.
"I was prepared for small weaponry, not the magnitude of (assault weapons)," said Bolasky. He exited the car with his shotgun, watching as the van exited the bank driveway and turned toward Hamner Avenue, the robbers spraying bullets toward him all the time. Bolasky leveled his shotgun and fired four rounds at the van, as he was hit in the shoulder. He watched as the van crashed into a fence. Later, he would learn the 17 year-old driver had been hit, severing his spinal cord, and died instantly. "Everything was in slow motion, and I had tunnel vision as I saw each of my rounds hit the van," he said.
Bolasky saw blood spurting from his ulnar artery on the inside of his elbow. As blood poured out, he worried that he would pass out and be shot and killed. About then, Deputy Chuck Hille pulled his cruiser into the feed store lot off 4th St. and Bolasky ran for cover toward a row of Eucalyptus trees separating houses from the east side of the bank.
"Out of nowhere, this civilian walked in front of me, in the line of fire between the robbers and me," he said. To this day, he doesn't know who that was, but Bolasky yelled at him to get down or he was a dead man. Hille pulled his car up to Bolasky and got him in the car to take him to the hospital, the car passing about 20 people out on 4th Street, watching what was happening. At the hospital later that night, Bolasky said the hostage came to his room to thank him for saving his life. "He told me that they were going to kill him after the robbery," said Bolasky. The robbers stole a truck on Hamner Avenue from the driver and sped away towards the mountains. They threw homemade bombs out the back of the truck as they continued to fire on deputies. The robbers shot at the police helicopter above, forcing it to land. In the San Bernardino Mountain community of Lytle Creek, the robbers turned and ambushed Deputy Jim Evans as he arrived. He died with a bullet to the eye. With arriving San Bernardino authorities carrying heavy weaponry, the robbers ran. Three of the gunmen were found and arrested two days later. Manuel Delgado, brother of the van driver, was killed in a shootout with a SWAT team. Two days later, three of the gunmen, George Wayne Smith and brothers Christopher and Russell Harven, were arrested. The three arrested men were convicted of 46 felonies and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Bolasky survived his injuries. He later became a U.S. Air Force officer. Following the robbery, the San Bernardino County Sheriffs department equipped their deputies with Ruger Mini-14's chambered in .223 Remington and the M-16 and AR-15. A movie, Rapid Fire, was made about the shootout. WHERE ARE THEY NOW? After joining the Riverside Police Department for one year, Bolasky joined the Air Force and retired after 23 years as a lieutenant colonel. He's spoken to over 6,500 in presentations about the robbery, passing on knowledge learned that day. He said joining the military was the most rewarding things he's ever done. One person who may not attend the event is Andrew Monti, former Riverside County sheriff deputy Andrew Delgado. His name change had nothing to do with sharing his last name with two of the robbers. He said the event changed his life forever and ended his career with the sheriff's department. He arrived at the bank at the same time as Hille. He says he engaged in a gun battle, as Hille pulled the wounded Glyn Bolasky into his car to take him for help. "I had been promoted to investigator that morning," said Monti. "I had a three-minute gun battle with the robbers. I wasn't happy being left there to die."
Monti said he has no animosity towards any of the other deputies because they all did what they felt was right to do on that day. He said that Riverside County sheriff deputies carried one revolver each and the police cruiser's shotgun when the bank robbery occurred and had no SWAT team. Shortly after the robbery, Monti said they were allowed to carry as many weapons as they wanted, as long as only one showed. They were allowed assault rifles, and later on, automatic weapons. Riverside County Sheriff developed the third largest SWAT team in the state, he said. Monti retired from the sheriff's department two years later due to post traumatic stress. He became a probation officer for San Diego County and retired from there as a supervisor nine years ago. Since then, he's been teaching high school history classes in San Diego County. Sgt. D.J. McCarty, a rookie San Bernardino County deputy who took an AR Vietnam era military rifle to Lytle Creek and fired back on the robbers as Evans was hit, still works for the sheriff's department at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center. He will soon retire, as he said his wounds that day and over the past 30 years are catching up with him. He gives all the credit to Jim Evans for saving his life that day. "He was the only hero that day," said McCarty, who received a Medal of Valor for his actions on May 9, 1980. "If it wasn't for Jim, a lot more people would have died there. I got lucky, I survived." Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Hille is now Dr. Charles Hille, a doctor of psychology. He helps to determine when a police officer or fireman has post traumatic stress disorder and works in the Riverside County conditional release program with mentally ill patients, who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. "I retired from the department two years after the robbery because of PTSD. After 9/11, my PTSD returned and I had an epiphany. I decided to give back to police officers and firemen and went back for my masters degree in psychology," said Hille. Previous to that, he attended law school and worked as a general contractor for 20 years. Although he does some work with emergency service personnel, helping them to deal with their critical incidents, trauma, personal relationships and PTSD, he wants to do more by becoming a police psychologist. David Madden, a former Riverside Country sheriff deputy recently retired as a senior detective.
He'd engaged in pursuing the robbers, stopping to check on two wounded officers along the way before continuing on. Later he was relieved to find his friend Andy Delgado (Monti) alive and safe, and he cleared a house in Norco, where it was reported more suspects might be hiding out. At a traffic stop some weeks later, Madden was astounded to hear a woman spew that it was too bad more police hadn't been killed at the Norco Bank Robbery. Another young woman at the Carl's Jr. across the street from the Security Pacific Bank saw him having lunch one day soon after the robbery and said to him, "What about that bank robbery? Norco needed something like that to put it on the map!" Laura Bakewell, a coordinator for the anniversary event, helped organize the 20th year reunion. "Some didn't want to come, they asked why bring this all up again," she said. "Some of the deputies arrived angry at the last event, but by the end of it, they left crying and hugging each other. I don't know what will happen this time." If anyone has an experience of the robbery to share or is interested in luncheon tickets, call (951) 686-7575. Reach Nita Hiltner (951) 738-8722 or email@example.com.
What the robbers had
(In addition to an arsenal of automatic weapons, 12-gauge shotguns, and a total of 1,103 rounds of ammunition) • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Section of PVC pipe and fittings Four cans with gunpowder One role of hobby fuse (safety fuse) Masking tape Six plastic pipe caps, 10 dowels, two cans of plastic cement Plastic container with cans, tape, dowel, can of black rifle powder Spray paint can Three boxes of nails Six glass Coke bottles, empty Three bottles of Blue Nun, 1.5 liters, empty Box with bullets, rivets, sling-shots, rags and nails Box labeled safety fuse Two Pepsi cans, one with lead shot One roll of electrician's tape A beaker with gunpowder Box containing disassembled flammable shotgun launching device
• • • • •
Three 16-oz. bottles with gas Two bottles, corks, cut plastic tubing and gunpowder Box containing disassembled explosive device Box containing disassembled explosive shotgun launching device Cloth rags
Explosive Devices • • • • • • • Hand-thrown grenade device Shotgun-launched grenade device Incendiary shotgun launch device Blue Nun incendiary device Molotov cocktails, containing leaded gasoline Norco Fire Department Arson Device Gasoline
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norco_shootout Norco shootout Location Date Target Attack type Death(s) Norco, California, USA May 9, 1980 3:40 p.m. (UTC-7) A branch of Security Pacific Bank Bank robbery 2 perpetrators, 1 Sheriff's deputy 8 Sheriff's deputies and a CHP officer was wounded
Belisaro Delgado † Manuel Delgado † Belligerent(s) Christopher Gregory Harven Russell Harven George Wayne Smith The Norco shootout was an armed confrontation between five heavily-armed bank robbers and Riverside and San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies after the perpetrators robbed the Security Pacific Bank in Norco, California, USA on May 9, 1980. The bank robbers were armed with shotguns, an assault rifle, handguns, and improvised explosive devices. Two of the perpetrators and a Sheriff's deputy were killed in the shootout. Eight other Sheriff's deputies and a CHP officer were wounded. Contents [hide]
1 The robbery and pursuit 2 Aftermath
3 4 5 6
Film See also References External links
The robbery and pursuit At 3:40 in the afternoon on May 9, 1980, four robbers stormed into the bank and forced the tellers to hand over $20,000 in cash, while the fifth robber kept watch outside. Unknown to the robbers, an employee at a different bank across the street had spotted them entering the bank and called the police. Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Glyn Bolasky was the first officer to arrive at the scene. As he pulled up, one of the robbers left outside with their getaway van radioed his partners inside the bank and said "We've been spotted, Let's go! Let's go!". The robbers then exited the bank and began to fire on Deputy Bolasky's police cruiser, blowing out his windshield and forcing Bolasky to throw the vehicle in reverse. Bolasky's cruiser eventually crashed into another car in the street. Taking cover behind his vehicle, Bolasky returned fire at the gunmen. The gunmen got into the van and once all five men were inside, they attempted to flee the scene, continuing to shoot at Bolasky. As the van sped away, a pellet from Bolasky's shotgun struck the driver, Belisaro Delgado, in the back of the head, killing him and sending the van crashing into a telephone pole guide wire. The four remaining robbers then exited the vehicle and fired over 200 rounds at Bolasky, putting 47 bullet holes in his cruiser. Bolasky was hit five times; in the face, upper left shoulder, both forearms and the left elbow. By this time, Deputies Charles Hille and Andy Delgado (no relation to Belisaro Delgado) had arrived at the scene. While Delgado engaged the robbers with gunfire, Hille managed to evacuate Bolasky in his cruiser and transport him to a nearby hospital. The robbers continued to fire at other officers arriving at the scene, and eventually attempted to escape again by commandeering a truck stopped at the intersection in front of the bank. As the four led a police pursuit, they shot at the pursuing officers and threw homemade bombs out the back of the truck. Overall, they damaged 33 police vehicles, including a police helicopter, forcing it to land. The suspects eventually pulled far ahead of the pursuing police officers and stopped to ambush them as they caught up. Officer James Evans, one of the first police units to come under attack during the ambush, was shot in the head and killed. The police, armed with only .38 caliber revolvers and 12 gauge shotguns, were out-gunned. They were, however, soon joined by San Bernardino Sheriff's Deputy D. J. McCarty, who brought an AR-15 to the shootout. His presence was crucial. Shortly after he engaged the robbers with his rifle, they stopped shooting and fled the scene, running into the wooded area of Lytle Creek, San Bernardino. "There would have been a lot more dead cops on the road if not for that weapon" said Riverside Deputy Rolf Parkes, a participant in the police response that day, "after their capture, the suspects stated their intent was to fight to the death".
Aftermath The next day, three of the gunmen were arrested. The fourth, Manuel Delgado (Belisaro's brother), was killed in a shootout with a SWAT team in the foothills. In all, eight officers had been wounded and one killed. The three arrested suspects, George Wayne Smith and brothers Christopher and Russell Harven, were convicted of 46 felonies and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Officer Bolasky recovered from his injuries sustained in the shootout and was awarded several decorations for his actions. He later became an officer in the U. S. Air Force. After this incident the San Bernardino County Sheriffs department equipped their deputies with Ruger Mini-14's chambered in .223 Remington as well as the M-16 and AR-15. Although the robbery happened in 1980, such was its impact that even today it is still used to train law enforcement personnel in anti-terrorism and survival tactics. Film A film, Rapid Fire, was made about the shootout. See also Inland Empire portal
North Hollywood shootout Bank robbery Norco, California 1986 FBI Miami shootout Newhall massacre 2009 shooting of Oakland police officers
References 1. ^ "The Norco Bank Robbery: The Gunmen". http://www.rcdsa.org/norcorobbery/gunmen.html. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 2. ^ a b Burrows, Danielle. "Surviving terrorism: shot five times by bank robbers, an Air Force officer tells his story, offering candid advice how to avoid being a victim of terrorists". http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IBP/is_9_46/ai_91820709. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 3. ^ "A first person account of the day that changed law-enforcement in Riverside County forever". http://www.rcdsa.org/norcorobbery/account.html. Retrieved 2008-05-07. External links
A documentation of the shootout
Riverside sheriffs association account Related news article about event
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