Norco 80

In May of 1980, the sleepy streets of Norco, California were turned into an all-out war zone in what was one of the most violent bank robberies in American history. From LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios comes the new podcast—Norco ’80 based on the book by Peter Houlahan. Listen as host and producer Antonia Cereijido tells the unbelievable true story about God, guns, survivalism and the bank robbery that changed policing in America forever. Using eyewitness testimony and never before heard police tapes, Norco 80 takes listeners on a wild ride, and serves as a cautionary tale in the context of America being immersed in the middle of an economic crisis, revamped end of the world paranoia and a complex conversation about policing.

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Episodes
EPISODE A Conversation about Policing
In 2016, Rosa Brooks, a full-time law professor at Georgetown University, became a reserve police officer. Rosa had previously studied and written about the role of violence in society, but always from a perspective outside of law enforcement. Now, she's written a book about her years of service and the insight she gained about identity, militarization, and what police actually think.  This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
EPISODE 9A Conversation About Survivalism
Dr. Casey Kelly discusses survivalism's enduring allure, from pioneer days to prepper conventions. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
EPISODE 8Chapter 8: Danger Signs
The Norco Bank Robbery happened over 40 years ago, but its legend continues influence how police officers are trained today. Thanks to one very popular VHS tape. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

PREVIOUSLY ON NORCO ‘80:

Rolfe:When they talk about the arming of police in America, it starts here. It starts at the ‘Norco bank robbery.

     Radio Traffic

George:We’re in Lytle Creek and what we’re trying to do is hit the police vehicles to stop them. I wasn’t trying to kill people.

DJ:He took a round in the right eye which basically killed him instantly

Mary: He sent many memos to the sheriff’s department in that last year before he died. He kept telling them ‘we need military assault weapons.’ It’s almost like he could see it coming. He knew something was going to happen.

Part 1 : History

WATERFALL

WE HAVE BEEN TELLING THE STORY OF A BANK ROBBERY THAT HAPPENED IN 1980, OVER 40 YEARS AGO.

IN A PREVIOUS EPISODE WE TALKED ABOUT HOW THE RESPONSE TO THE ROBBERY WAS PART OF A NATIONAL MOMENT WHERE POLICE BEGAN DEMANDING MORE POWERFUL WEAPONS.

BUT THERE IS ANOTHER, VERY SPECIFIC WAY THAT WHAT HAPPENED IN NORCO YEARS AGO HAS SHAPED POLICINGTODAY.AND PART OF IT HAS TO DO WITH A VIDEO...

Music

DEPUTY SHERIFF ROLF PARKES WAS ONE OF THE OFFICERS IN THE CHASE THE DAY OF THE ROBBERY.

Rolf:Dispatch asks, can you confirm if a helicopter is being shot out of the sky? And I go, What? Are you kidding me?

SHORTLY AFTER THE EVENTS OF NORCO, HE STARTED A NEW JOB AT THE IRVINE POLICE DEPARTMENT.

AND THERE HE WOULD GET A UNIQUE FIRST ASSIGNMENT.

Rolf:The captain of patrol, the first thing he said to me he says, oh, I want you to do something for training regarding this thing.

THEY WANTED HIM TO MAKE... A VIDEO.

FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS, ROLF ESSENTIALLY BECAME A MOVIE PRODUCER.

Rolf: And from that moment on, things built from me just doing some hand drawings and and a little narrative to making it into a a training film.

ROLF GATHERED EVIDENCE FROM THE INVESTIGATION AND THE RADIO TRAFFIC FROM THAT DAY.

Rolf: And then I had a guy from Disneyland, the voice of Disneyland, Jack Wagner, narrated the thing.

Video: On May 1980 one of the most daring and spectacular bank robberies to occur in the United States took place here.

ASC: How did you get him? Rolf:Somebody knew somebody ASC:Who scored it?
Rolf:So he chose the music, Musiquita

Video:Within minutes after the robbery took place countless units from the Corona Police department descend on the scene.

Rolf:I wanted people to sit in the car with me at the moment at that day and get a feeling for what it's like to chase bank robbers who are trying to kill you, you know

Another clip

THE MOVIE WAS MADE INTO A VHS TAPE THAT WAS DISTRIBUTED TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO BE VIEWED DURING TRAINING.

ROLF: It was a way for agencies to digest this stuff and then come up with ways on their own. Should they face something like this themselves

FOR ROLF, THE VIDEO ENDED UP BEING MORE THAN A REFERENCE FOR AGENCIES - IT WAS A WARNING

ROLF: So I want I want I want people to understand why there was and is an arming of police in America and why we have to have these kind of resources. We have to have a police force, well armed, prepared and trained in order to answer that threat.

THE VIDEO WAS A MESSAGE THAT SOCIETY COULD COLLAPSE IF POLICE DIDN’T PREPARE FOR THE WORST

ROLF: Otherwise, you know, we're going to have havoc. You know, it's like the bad guys were will run the world.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO 80: A SERIES ABOUT GUNS, GOD, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

40 YEARS LATER - THE STORY OF THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY REVEALS HOW A MILITARIZED MINDSET HAS INFILTRATED PART OF AMERICAN SOCIETY.

AND WHAT THAT MEANS IN CONTEXT OF THE TENSE CONVERSATIONS WE ARE HAVING AROUND POLICING TODAY.

CHAPTER 8: DANGER SIGNS

Video:In review of the Norco Robbery several key training points and considerations should be addressed.

THEME MUSIC OUT

THE VIDEO DETAILING THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY WOULD END UP BEING 54 MINUTES LONG. IT’S A CINEMATIC ACCOUNT OF THE ROBBERY. IT INCLUDES MAPS AND SKETCHES OF THE ROBBERS AND THE COPS DURING THE CAR CHASE, AND THE SHOOT-OUT.

Video: The suspect exited the San Bernardino National Forest through an area known as Lytle Creek. The pursuit had already covered some 35 miles from the security Pacific Bank in Norco to this position in about 42 minutes.

Deputy Parks and Chisholm's unit is disabled by bullets, striking the radiator.

ROLF PARKES SAYING THAT MAKING THE VIDEO HELPED HIM PROCESS THE EVENT.

Rolf: For me, making the film was kind of cathartic if you would. I was able to put a lot of thoughts down on paper and then into film, you know, to help help me personally deal with it. And I think that's what got me through. It was doing that.

BUT THE VIDEO WOULD BRING UP NIGHTMARES FOR DEPUTY DJ MCCARTY - THE OFFICER WHO SAW JIM EVANS DIE.

YEARS AFTER THE ROBBERY HE WAS TRANSFERRED TO A NEW JOB. BUT HE COULDN’T ESCAPE WHAT HAPPENED AT LYTLE CREEK.

DJ: We are being trained by the FBI in Point Mugu Naval Station. They come in and say, we've got this movie of a shooting we want you guys to see. It was the lytle Creek bank robbery movie and I'd never seen it and I went oh, God. Yeah. That D.J. was in that I got really worried. And so I put it on during a lights off. They put it on, lights come back on. And one of the guys noticed that I had tears in my eyes. So my sergeant gets a hold of me. A couple days later, he would say, D.J., we've got a problem. What's that, Sergeant? Goes One of the guys noticed that you were having a reaction to that shooting. And they're a little nervous. What you're going to do, when the the bullets start flying again.

DJ TRIED TO ASSURE THE SERGEANT THAT HE COULD HANDLE IT

DJ: Well, OK. But we're gonna send you to a shrink anyway. DJ WOULD END UP GOING TO SEE TO NANCY BOHL-PENROD.

BACK THEN, SHE WAS JUST STARTING HER CAREER AS A THERAPIST. SHE’S NOW THE DIRECTOR OF THE COUNSELING TEAM INTERNATIONAL, WHICH WORKS WITH FIRST RESPONDERS AND POLICE OFFICERS

NANCY REMEMBERS HOW IN THE 80S, OFFICERS WEREN’T VERY ENTHUSED TO TALK TO HER

Nancy: Sometimes I would hand them my business card and they literally right in front of me would throw it in the trash.

NANCY REMEMBERS THAT DJ WAS ALSO SKEPTICAL OF THERAPY. SHE COULD TELL HE WAS PUTTING UP A FRONT THAT HE WAS OK

Nancy: When I first met DJ my impression was that he was pretty macho.

HER GOAL WAS TO HELP POLICE PROCESS TRAUMATIC EVENTS, BUT ALSO TO KEEP THEM FROM DROPPING OUT OF THE FORCE ALL TOGETHER.

Nancy: Everyone thought D.J. would leave. Everybody, I mean, people never thought D.J. McCarty would stay a deputy.

TO TREAT DJ, NANCY HAD THEM REWATCH ROLF PARKE’S TRAINING VIDEO TOGETHER

Video

Nancy: So wo do a frame by frame, and as he tells his story, you stop him. And you know what? What were you thinking at the time? What were you feeling? What what's your reaction?

AS SHE WORKED WITH HIM, TO DJ’S SURPRISE, HE STARTED TO FEEL BETTER

DJ: It made you feel that you weren't crazy. It made you feel that you were human.

NANCY SAYS IN THE DECADES AFTER THE ROBBERY, MORE OFFICERS FELT COMFORTABLE GOING TO HER FOR HELP.

MUSIC

AT THE SAME TIME, THERE WAS ANOTHER SHIFT HAPPENING WITHIN THE POLICE FORCE. SWAT TEAMS WERE BECOMING MORE UBIQUITOUS.

BETWEEN THE MID-1980S AND THE LATE 1990S, THE NUMBER OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN THE U.S. WITH SWAT-STYLE TEAMS MORE THAN DOUBLED.

AND SO MORE OFFICERS ADOPTED THEIR MILITARY-LOOK AND TRAINING.

CLIPS OF SWAT TEAMS

BUT THIS INTEREST IN ACQUIRING MORE POWERFUL WEAPONRY WASN'T JUST LIMITED TO THE POLICE FORCE: IT WAS REFLECTED ACROSS THE GREATER U.S. CULTURE.

IN THE LATE 70S, THE NRA BECAME A POLITICAL FORCE ADVOCATING FOR GUN RIGHTS. HAVING FIREARMS HAD BECOME AN IDENTITY IN AND OF ITSELF.

Clip of NRA

AMERICAN GUNMAKERS PRODUCED AND IMPORTED 8.5 MILLION ASSAULT-STYLE RIFLES BETWEEN 1990 AND 2012.

AND AS MILITARY STYLE GUNS BECAME MORE COMMON IN THE STREETS - AND IN THE HANDS OF POLICE OFFICERS - NANCY BOHL-PENROD, DJ’S THERAPIST - SAW MORE AND MORE OFFICERS INVOLVED IN SHOOTINGS.

Nancy: The first year I, I started working, I think I went out on four incidents. Then the next year it was like nine and then it was 15. And then it was 48. And then a hundred. And then a hundred and five.

     As that increased, the community started to question their
     training and started questioning, you know, was that
     justified? Was it justified?

And there was a portion of the public that would always back them up, And there was a portion that didn't.

SHE NOTICED A NEW TENSION AROUND POLICING... ONE THAT SHOULD BE FAMILIAR TO MOST PEOPLE TODAY—A FIERCE DEBATE OVER WHETHER POLICE OFFICERS ARE JUSTIFIED IN THEIR USE OF FORCE.

A DIVISION FOUND IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE U.S. TODAY, INCLUDING AT RIVERSIDE, THE COUNTY WHERE THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY HAPPENED.

Residents: How much of the county’s budget, general and special, goes to law enforcement? It goes at the expense of people of color, black people and poor people and it needs to be addressed.

WHEN WE RETURN.

RIVERSIDE RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT.

Part 2 : Where we are today

WE’RE BACK.

Public Heariing: Gavel ....I’d like to call this meeting to order

THIS IS AUDIO FROM A PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION ONE OF SEVERAL HELD IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY THIS PAST FALL. THE SAME COUNTY WHERE THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY HAPPENED JUST OVER 40 YEARS AGO.

A FEW PEOPLE WERE IN THE ROOM BUT MOSTLY, ONE BY ONE, COMMUNITY MEMBERS WERE CALLING IN ON THE PHONE.

Public Hearing: Can you hear me? Yes sir you got three minutes.

THEY DISCUSSED THE PANDEMIC AND ECONOMIC ISSUES. BUT IT WAS CLEAR THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE’S CONCERNS WERE OVER POLICING IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY.

Public Hearing: I would like to talk about the vigil that was held for Breona Taylor last week, and we had a police presence that was very unreasonable, riot gear, we had drones overhead that were very loud, ultimately very disrespectful for the reason we were there

THE COMMENTS WERE LIKE PING-PONG — RESIDENTS RAISED CONCERNS, OTHER RESIDENTS FLUNG BACK RETORTS.

Public Hearing: What is being alleged by people that are reading pre-written out scripts and regurgitate a narrative that’s been spread around the country is ridiculous. We have one of the finest sheriff’s department in the country.

Music

THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE AND THE RIVERSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT WERE TWO OF THE PRIMARY AGENCIES THAT RESPONDED TO THE NORCO ROBBERY. THEY NOW RANK AS SOME OF THE WORST IN CALIFORNIA IN TERMS OF POLICE VIOLENCE, ACCORDING TO ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION CAMPAIGN ZERO. THAT’S BASED ON USE OF DEADLY FORCE AND CIVILIAN COMPLAINTS.

Public Hearing: I’ve witnessed the sheriffs harass homeless people instead of help them - they are overfunded and do nothing but install fear in people when they are around

A helicopter was flying over us - now let’s think how much money does it cost the county to get all this military equipment out - is that what we deserve, is that what black people deserve?

THE VERY THING OFFICERS FOUGHT FOR - MILITARY GRADE WEAPONS - IS NOW PART OF WHAT MANY RIVERSIDE CITIZENS SEE AS THE PROBLEM.

Music out

FOR MUCH OF THE PUBLIC POLICE MILITARIZATION MEANS SWAT TEAMS RESPONDING TO DRUG INFRACTIONS, DRONES AT VIGILS. THE POLICE COMING FULLY ARMED TO DELIVER NO-KNOCK WARRANTS.

WHEN PEOPLE HEAR THE TERM MILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE - IT CAN BRING TO MIND IMAGES LIKE THOSE COMING OUT OF FERGUSON MISSOURI AFTER THE KILLING OF MICHAEL BROWN.

CBS: For several night this week, this was ferguson missouri, tanks, combat gear, assault rifles, it looked like a military operation.

MUCH OF THE PUBLIC THINKS OF SWAT TEAMS RESPONDING TO DRUG INFRACTIONS, DRONES AT VIGILS, THE POLICE COMING FULLY ARMED TO DELIVER NO-KNOCK WARRANTS.

CBS: Police departments in the St. Lous area like those across the country are arming their officers with equipment once on the battlefield of Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of it is free of charge or bought with federal grant money authorized by congress.

POLICE DEPARTMENTS TODAY HAVE ACCESS TO EQUIPMENT THAT TO MANY SEEMS LIKE OVERKILL. LIKE GRENADE LAUNCHERS AND MINE-RESISTANT ARMORED VEHICLES. RESEARCHERS POINT OUT THE DATA OF THESE PROGRAMS IS INCOMPLETE, AND SO IT’S DIFFICULT TO MEASURE ITS IMPACT.

MUSIC

BUT IF YOU TALK TO POLICE, AS WE HAVE BEEN DOING A LOT, THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. WHEN THEY THINK OF MILITARIZATION THEY THINK OF NEEDING TO RESPOND TO EVENTS LIKE THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY. OR THE SAN BERNARDINO MASS SHOOTING IN 2015, WHICH HAPPENED IN THE COUNTY JUST NEXT DOOR TO RIVERSIDE.

Archival: We were on the ground watching swat teams running back and forth yesterday.

A HUSBAND AND WIFE, SHOT AND KILLED 14 PEOPLE AND INJURED 22 OTHERS. AND THE POLICE STOPPED THE SUSPECTS BY KILLING THEM USING MILITARY LEVEL EQUIPMENT.

Archival: Police sent a robot into the home to sweep for explosives, farook and malik were killed after a police pursuit that ended in a shootout.

THE POLICE WE SPOKE TO BELIEVE IT’S VITAL THAT OFFICERS BE PREPARED FOR THE MOST EXTREME SITUATIONS. A MINDSET THAT STARTS BEFORE OFFICERS EVEN GET OUT INTO THE FIELD - A FEAR ROOTED IN THEIR TRAINING.

Musiquita
WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.
Part 3: The Legacy WE’RE BACK.

THE TRAINING VIDEO THAT DEPUTY SHERIFF ROLF PARKES PRODUCED WAS NOT JUST A RELIC OF THE 80S - IT’S STILL VIEWED BY POLICE TODAY - - ON YOUTUBE RATHER THAN ON A VHS TAPE.

Rosa: When I was at the police academy,that bank robbery looms very large and in sort of police legend.

THIS IS ROSA BROOKS, SHE’S A PROFESSOR AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. SHE’S A SCHOLAR OF WAR AND THE USE OF VIOLENCE. IN 2015, SHE DID SOMETHING UNEXPECTED FOR A FULL TIME PROFESSOR.. SHE STARTED TRAINING TO BE A POLICE OFFICER.

Rosa: Iwas just really, really curious.

SHE HAD SPENT SO MUCH TIME THINKING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VIOLENCE AND JUSTICE FROM THE OUTSIDE OF ENFORCEMENT - SHE WANTED TO GET A MORE ACCURATE PICTURE.

Rosa: Ijust wanted to find out...so what is it like? What did cops learn about how did they get trained? What what do they talk about when the rest of us aren't there? So I guess it was just curiosity more than anything else.

ROSA WAS ON THE FORCE FOR FOUR YEARS AS A RESERVE POLICE OFFICER IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND ONE OF THE THINGS SHE PICKED UP ON IS THAT POLICING IS A PRETTY TOUGH JOB.

Rosa: There are obviously times when, you know, you've got a big, scary guy with a pokerand you've got to intervene and and doing all of these things at once, not to mention, you know, the the teenager who's having a fight with a parent, that the range of things that we expect cops to do and do well is is pretty mind boggling.

BUT ANOTHER THING SHE PICKED UP ON AFTER SHE BEGAN HER TRAINING WAS THAT THROUGH INSTANCES LIKE WATCHING THE NORCO 80 BANK

ROBBERY TRAINING VIDEO - OFFICERS WERE BEING SENT A VERY CLEAR MESSAGE ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO SOCIETY

Rosa: Everyone is trying to kill us. Any routine interaction could turn deadly for me at any time. The most important thing is that I be safe.

IN FACT THERE WAS A WHOLE GENRE OF POLICE VIDEOS DEDICATED TO LOOKING BACK AT MOMENTS LIKE THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY.

Rosa: Italk about the incredible amount of time that went into watching these, quote unquote, officer safety videos where you watched officers getting hurt or killed or attacked and then they'd be analyzed for, well, what what could this officer have done differently to prevent that from happening?

Montage of police brutality videos

MEANWHILE, THE REST OF AMERICA WAS SEEING VERY DIFFERENT VIDEOS ABOUT THE POLICE FORCE

Philando Castilo and Alton Sterling tape

BUT THESE INSTANCES WERE NOT DISCUSSED IN ROSAS’S TRAINING CLASSES, THEY FOCUSED ON OTHER ASPECTS OF THE JOB.

Rosa: It was essentially tactical. It was OK, you need to memorize this list of vehicular offenses and you need to learn the nine property forms you must fill out for different types of property that comes into police possession.

And you need to do push ups and you need to shine your boots, but you don't need to be contemplating what it would mean to say that there is structural racism in American policing.

BLACK MEN IN THE US ARE 2.5X MORE LIKELY TO BE KILLED BY AMERICAN COPS THAN WHITE MEN. OVERALL - WHEN YOU ADJUST FOR POPULATION SIZE, POLICE IN THE UNITED STATES KILL PEOPLE AT 64X THE RATE OF POLICE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.

SO ROSA WAS SURPRISED THAT HER TRAININGS HAD NO MENTION OF STATISTICS ABOUT CRIME AND ARREST PATTERNS. ESPECIALLY SINCE SHE WAS WORKING AS A POLICE OFFICER IN 2016 - IN THE MIDST OF THE HIGHLY PUBLICIZED KILLINGS OF ALTON STERLING AND PHILANDO CASTILE.

Rosa:It wasn't talked about at all.

So race came up only in the context of, you know, we as a police department are committed to treating everybody equally. Um, and it is a hate crime to have an assault or something be motivated by, in part, racial animus or animus based on religion or ethnicity or gender or whatever, a long, long list of of categories. So we got that that was about it, you know, so so we learned about race, only to be told that within the police department it didn't matter because we're all blue now.

ASC: They would say that?
Rosa:Oh, yeah, yeah, you know, you bleed blue. I don't

care if you're black or white, you bleed blue.

THESE VIDEOS - THE NORCO TRAINING VIDEO AND THE OTHER ONES ON YOUTUBE, THEY’RE ONE WAY OF SOLIDIFYING A KIND OF BOND BETWEEN OFFICERS.

THAT THEY ARE OUT THERE TOGETHER IN THE FIELD FACING DANGER AGAINST AN ENEMY.

OFFICERS WERE EAGER TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE OF THE ROBBERY AND CHASE -TELLING ME THAT THE PUBLIC DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW DANGEROUS THEIR JOB IS.

THE THING IS - POLICE WORK ISDANGEROUS - BUT IT IS LESS DANGEROUS TO BE A POLICE OFFICER THAN MANY OTHER PROFESSIONS.

Rosa: It's more dangerous to be a logger or a roofer or sanitation truck worker than it is to be a cop. Now, granted, people aren't shooting at roofers and loggers and garbage truck guys. But even if you look at risk in terms of intentional harm, taxi drivers, Uber drivers, Lyft drivers have almost twice the rate of on the job deaths by homicide than police officers do. The perception of danger,

the perception of risk that cops have is disproportionate to the actual risk.

WHICH IS NOT TO SAY THAT EVENTS LIKE THE NORCO SHOOT-OUT ARE NOT DEEPLY TERRIFYING AND TRAUMATIC. BUT - THERE IS A CONSEQUENCE WHEN OFFICERS ARE TAUGHT TO WORRY THAT EVERY SCENARIO IS POTENTIALLY DEADLY

Rosa: Inevitably, that means that some police officers are going to see somebody reaching into their pocket or into their glove compartment and the rhetoric becomes that they're going to shoot somebody who did not pose a threat.

The rhetoric becomes our lives are the most important ones to preserve. And that, too, I think, coupled with other aspects of police training and police culture, can can lead in a sense to kind of transferring risk onto ordinary people and away from the police.

AND BY AND LARGE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUFFERED THE BRUNT OF THIS HAS BEEN BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES.

THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY WAS NOT ATTEMPTED BY BLACK MEN - BUT BY CONTRIBUTING TO MILITARIZATION IT DID HELP SHAPE HOW BLACK MEN AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR ARE POLICED.

GIVEN THE DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE WHO ARE SHOT BY POLICE EVERY YEAR, IT’S HARD NOT TO NOTICE THAT EVEN IN THE NORCO ROBBERY THE TWO ROBBERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES HAPPENED TO BE THE TWO MEXICAN-AMERICAN MEN WHO WERE PART OF THE GROUP.

Music

ULTIMATELY WE DON’T KNOW WHAT COULD HAVE CHANGED THE OUTCOME OF THE NORCO ROBBERY. IF THE POLICE HAD BEEN ARMED WITH MORE POWERFUL WEAPONRY - THERE COULD HAVE BEEN FEWER DEATHS, OR THERE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE.

WE ARE LIVING THROUGH A MOMENT OF INTENSE ANXIETY IN AMERICAN HISTORY. THE PUBLIC IS CONCERNED ABOUT POLICE USE OF LETHAL FORCE. AND THERE IS ALSO A CONCERN ABOUT HOW EASY IT IS FOR ANYBODY --

INCLUDING EXTREMIST GROUPS -- TO PURCHASE VERY POWERFUL WEAPONS.

Clip of insurrection

A NUMBER OF THE INSURRECTIONISTS WHO WERE AT THE CAPITOL IN JANUARY ARE ALSO SELF-PROCLAIMED PREPPERS. SURVIVALISTS LIKE GEORGE SMITH AND THE OTHER ROBBERS.

TODAY, DOOMSDAY PREPPERS ARE NOT JUST AT THE FRINGES OF SOCIETY - THEY’VE ALSO BECOME A SORT OF POP CULTURE PHENOMENON. THERE ARE MULTIPLE REALITY SHOWS DEDICATED TO SHOWING THE LIVES OF SURVIVALISTS.

CLIP

THE MAJORITY OF THE PREPPERS ON THESE SHOWS ARE MIDDLE AGED WHITE MEN, AND YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THEY ARE PREPPING FOR THEIR FANTASY RATHER THAN THEIR FEARS.

A RETURN TO A WORLD WHERE CERTAIN BEHAVIORS THAT HAVE BEEN TRADITIONALLY LINKED TO MASCULINITY LIKE BUILDING AND HUNTING - WOULD PUT THEM BACK AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN SO TO SPEAK. SKILLS THAT ARE NOT NEEDED TO SURVIVE IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD TODAY.

music

IN THE CASE OF NORCO - GEORGE SMITH’S SURVIVALISM, HIS QUEST TO FEEL POWERFUL AND PREPARE AGAINST DISASTER, ACTUALLYBROUGHT DISASTER UPON HIS LIFE, HIS FRIENDS’, AND HIS FAMILY’s. AS WELL AS THE FAMILY OF JIM EVANS.

MUSIC

GEORGE’S DAUGHTER, MONICA MILLER, RECALLS A LIFETIME OF HAVING TO BE HER DAD’S SUPPORT SYSTEM. WAITING FOR HOURS IN LINE AS A CHILD TO VISIT HIM AFTER HE WAS INCARCERATED AND PAYING FOR THE PRISON’S EXPENSIVE FOOD AND OTHER ITEMS. A SITUATION SHE DIDN’T CHOOSE,

Monica:For every 50 people visiting prison on a given day, you're going to see one man. The rest are women.

Monica: And they're their mothers, their sisters, their wives, their girlfriends, their daughters. They're disproportionately people of color.And they're they're trying to to support families outside of prison and inside of prison.

ASC: Like, is there anything you want to hear from your dad?

Monica: That I want to hear? Yeah. For me personally, I mean. Yeah, I no, there I have my -My father has apologized to me. Numerous times. We’ve talked about it all. I guess that's the whole point is we can't change it. And and I know that. And he knows that. And so as many times as I've gotten angry or wanted him to say something else or something more. I mean, that's kind of where we always go back to. If he could change it, he would. If I could change it, I would.

Unfortunately, we can't.

WHEN GEORGE TRIED TO PREPARE FOR THE COLLAPSE OF SOCIETY - FOR THE WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO, HIS OVERREACTION, LED TO CATASTROPHE.

WHAT WE HAVE SEEN FROM THE EVENTS OF THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY, AND WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS, IS THAT THERE IS A RISK IN PREPARING FOR THE EXTREME. IN BOTH SURVIVALIST THINKING AND IN THE WAY POLICE ARE TRAINED.

IF ALL YOU SEE ARE POTENTIAL THREATS, POTENTIAL CRISES ALL AROUND YOU. YOU RISK OVERREACTING TO DANGER. SOMETIMES EVEN HARMING THE PEOPLE YOU’RE MEANT TO PROTECT.

George:I just got overcautious is all. Made grenades and stuff. But the whole plan in itself was to rule that all out. And it happened.

END

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre. The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardiff.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow and Elishiba Itoop.

Original music by Zach Robinson.

Special thanks to Curt Roschiller, Maggie Freleng, Casey Kelly, Michael Leo Owens, and Pete Kraska.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast onApple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts.And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

EPISODE 7Chapter 7: George Smith
George Smith speaks to us in his first-ever recorded interview, from a correctional facility in Corcoran, California. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

Last week on Norco 80:

DJ McCarty:I’ve heard people talking...about hey he had no business being up there with a gun he didn’t know how to handle and uh...did he shoot Evans

Kevin Ruddy:You could really see that the defense really had nothing to say. In terms of minimizing the conduct of the other defendants...they couldn’t do it!

Debbie:All I kept hearing and it starting ringing in my ears was

Guilty. Guilty.

Music out

ASC: All right. Can you hear me?

George:Yes I can.

ASC:Ok good.​ ​We are recording right now.

George: I would like to make a statement before we begin first is that okay?

ASC: OK, yes, of course.

George: All right. OK. I want the listeners to know that I'm deeply ashamed and embarrassed for my role in this crime. First of all, and I kept my silence because I was thinking this thing would just go away. But obviously it hasn't. And there are things that should be said to the Delgado and Evans family for this ultimate tragedy for them. And I wish the situation were not so. And and I ask their forgiveness and I'm glad for the opportunity and for

1

that thank you Antonia for this forum to be able to say this. I'm ready.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

CHAPTER 7: GEORGE SMITH

George:I knew eventually that we would fight the Soviet Union. I was convinced of that.

THEME MUSIC OUT

OF THE FIVE MEN WHO ROBBED A BANK IN NORCO IN 1980, ONLY 2 ARE ALIVE TODAY. MANNY AND BILLY DELGADO DIED ON THE SCENE. AND THE OTHER 3 WOULD BE SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE.

RUSS HARVEN - DIED IN DECEMBER OF 2019 OF HEART FAILURE WHILE IN PRISON. HIS OLDER BROTHER CHRIS HARVEN IS 70 YEARS OLD AND IS CURRENTLY AT A PRISON IN VACAVILLE, CALIFORNIA. HE DENIED OUR REQUEST FOR AN INTERVIEW.

music

THAT LEAVES GEORGE SMITH. IN THE 40 YEARS HE’S BEEN IN PRISON, SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE, HE’S NEVER AGREED TO A BROADCAST INTERVIEW.

AFTER HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT GEORGE AND HIS INTENTIONS, WE WANTED TO ASK HIM DIRECTLY WHY HE ROBBED NORCO’S SECURITY PACIFIC BANK.

AND HOW HE RATIONALIZED HIS ANXIETIES OF THE TIMES INTO A PLAN THAT WOULD GO SO TERRIBLY WRONG.

GEORGE NEVER SPEAKS TO THE PRESS - HE SENDS ALL MEDIA REQUESTS TO HIS DAUGHTER, MONICA, AND THEY USUALLY END THERE. SO WHEN WE REACHED OUT TO HER DIRECTLY, WE HAD LITTLE HOPE THAT WE’D HEAR BACK. FOR 2 WEEKS WE WAITED. AND THEN, SHE LEFT US A VOICEMAIL.

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[Voicemail] Monica:My name is Monica Miller. I’m calling in regards to an email that you sent me

GEORGE CONSIDERED OUR REQUEST, AND WHILE HE DID, MONICA AGREED TO BE INTERVIEWED.

ASC: So, Monica, if you could just see your your name and how much you want to tell us about your daily life now? [00:01:49][8.7]

Monica: My name is Monica Miller. I am. Gosh. Forty three going on. Forty four. I am a mom of two. And I have lived in the Maryland area now for the last four years.

ASC: So what are some early memories you have of your father?

Monica: Unfortunately, most of my my vivid memories are from after he was arrested.

MONICA WAS ONLY ABOUT THREE AND A HALF YEARS OLD WHEN GEORGE WAS ARRESTED. AND SHE ONLY REMEMBERS A COUPLE OF FLEETING MOMENTS OF THE TIME BEFORE THE ROBBERY. EVEN THOUGH HER PARENTS SPLIT UP, HER MOM, HANNE PALMER, WOULD BRING MONICA TO VISIT HER DAD.

Monica:I was very, very close to my father. My mother is an extreme, a health food addict. She is to this day and would never let me have sugar or things like that. And I would go to visit my dad. And those are some of the memories I have. He would sneak me.

Monica:He would let me eat junior mints. I would sit on his couch and he would massage my feet. I loved him to like like he did like the acupuncture, like painful massages. And even at, like, three years old. That was like our routine. I would like hop up and he would give me chocolate. And he would massage my feet.

MONICA WAS STILL A YOUNG CHILD WHEN GEORGE WAS CONVICTED, AND SO FOR DECADES SHE HAD TO BUILD HER RELATIONSHIP WITH HER FATHER THROUGH WEEKLY CALLS AND OCCASIONAL, SOMETIMES ONLY ANNUAL, VISITS TO PRISON.

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ASC: what sorts of things would you talk about with your with your dad?

Monica: So my dad loves to talk and he has a limited what's the word I'm looking for? He has a limited audience overall where he's at.

As I've gotten older, you know, there's regular life stuff that we discuss.

Monica: he has very strong opinions still about the world. What's going on in the world about the religious aspects of it. So I it's kind of a joke, and I hope that's appropriate to say.

ASC:What do you mean?

Monica: I mean, I code when I go now, it's kind of like my mom was like, OK, did you get preached to for the last like eight hours or four hours or whatever it is. And it's like, yeah, I got preached to.

MUSIC

Monica: I hear a lot of. For lack of a better phrase, doomsday prepping and kind of advice, and I've had that my whole life.

A MONTH AND HALF AFTER OUR INTERVIEW WITH MONICA, WE FINALLY REACHED GEORGE ON A PHONE FROM A STATE PRISON IN CORCORAN CALIFORNIA.

Monica:Ok - are you ready?
ASC:Yes.
Monica:Ok everybody should be here.

THROUGH MONICA WE WERE ABLE TO SET UP A SERIES OF 15 MINUTE PHONE CALLS WITH HIM - THAT’S THE LONGEST YOU HAVE PER CALL BEFORE YOU GET CUT OFF. GEORGE WOULD CALL US BACK WHEN WE GOT DISCONNECTED.

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This call and your telephone number will be monitored and recorded

EACH TIME HIS MOOD SEEMED SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT.

[MASHUP OF GEORGE/ASC GREETINGS]

WE SPOKE TO HIM OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL DAYS WHEN HE WAS ABLE TO GET ACCESS TO THE COMMUNAL PHONES.

Music out

Asc:Can you hear me?
George: Yes I can.
ASC: So​ ​my first question for you is just what your daily life is like?
George:What is my daily life now or then? You talking about today?
George: We are on quarantine because of the coronavirus and therefore we are confined to our bunks most of the day.

WE STARTED THE INTERVIEW BY GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING.

ASC: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? What were your interests at school?
George:Paleontology
ASC:Really?

George:When I was really young, you know ASC: What sparked that interest?
George: That I loved dinosaurs.

Nine years old, eight years old. And the whole formation of the universe and everything was interesting. And I used to love to watch plants grow or take things out of the bean bag and put it in the ground and watch them sprout up, which is the I guess the gift of faith was early for me. I didn't think it was a far reaching for me to see there had to be a creator in all this.

GEORGE BRINGS UP HIS FAITH IN OUR CONVERSATION PRETTY MUCH RIGHT AWAY. HE SAYS HE DIDN’T GROW UP IN A RELIGIOUS HOUSEHOLD, THOUGH HE DID ATTEND CHURCH WITH HIS GRANDPARENTS. HIS FATHER WORKED IN CONSTRUCTION, AND HIS MOTHER WOULD OCCASIONALLY WORK A NIGHT TIME SHIFT AT A FACTORY.

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ASC:Hanne mentioned to us that. There may have been abuse with your parents in that, for instance, your mother put out cigarette butts on your hands, on your palms.

George: It doesn't matter, though, those those those are irrelevant to any discussion. Both my parents are dead. Both my parents in the end confessed to christ believe it or not before they died. That was one of my prayers. And one of my concerns. As far as all that other stuff goes: It's irrelevant.

GEORGE’S MOTHER WAS JAPANESE AMERICAN. HE SAYS HE’S ALSO PART NATIVE AMERICAN, PART IRISH AND PART ENGLISH. HE TOLD ME HE WAS WHAT YOU COULD CALL THE “ULTIMATE AMERICAN.”

George:I’m a conglomeration of what you call your “ultimate American” hows that?

ASC:you know, growing up, what role do you feel your identity being. being Japanese played in your upbringing?

George:Well, I'm sure it had a large factor into it, because we're talking about my parents marrying after World War Two, we experienced prejudice all the time. They weren't Japanese. They were Japs. Right? And killing them and hating them was, was put into the culture. And then after that, you know, it's going to it's going to carry on over it always does, especially when you’re young. Why wouldn't young people call a child a Jap? I mean, you know it's obviously it's easy to do. Right?

George: You could let it destroy you or you can sit there and go, OK, this is the way it is.

THEN - HE LAUNCHES INTO SOME JAPANESE, WHICH HE HAS BEEN LEARNING IN PRISON.

George: [speaks japanese] instead of being ashamed of it kind of embrace it a little right?

6

There's positive aspects of every culture. Got it? If you if you try to embrace the negative, then you're going to you could turn out to be a monster.

Music

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 2 - SURVIVALISM

WE’RE BACK.

WHEN GEORGE SMITH BEGAN PREPARING FOR THE APOCALYPSE HE FEARED WAS COMING - HE IMAGINED SURVIVING IN A REMOTE LOCATION, LIVING OFF THE GRID - HE WAS A SURVIVALIST.

AND IN MANY WAYS THE CONCEPT OF SURVIVALISMHAS ALWAYS BEEN AT THE HEART OF AMERICAN IDENTITY. THIS IDEA OF SELF RELIANCE DATES BACK TO PIONEER TIMES.

BUT SELF-RELIANCE TOOK ON A NEW AESTHETIC DURING THE COLD WAR—IT MEANT PREPARING FOR A POTENTIAL GLOBAL MELTDOWN

Archival: Make no mistake: nuclear attack would be a terrible catastrophe. But that is a threat that can be combated. Can with knowledge, preparation and courage be faced and conquered

WHEN GEORGE WAS GROWING UP - SURVIVING MEANT STOCKPILING CANS AND DRIED GOODS AND BUILDING UP A REFUGE IN CASE OF A NUCLEAR BOMB.

Archival: No home in America is safe without a fallout shelter. This is the nuclear age

[you have 60 seconds remaining.]

OK, I've got to go.

7

IN THE EARLY 60S, THE US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HAD DISTRIBUTED PAMPHLETS TEACHING AMERICAN FAMILIES HOW TO MAKE BUNKERS.

Archival: A fall-out shelter you can build yourself is open for public inspection in Thomasville Georgia. ...A civil defense pamphlet “the family fallout shelter” contains plans and construction details for this and other types of shelters.

BY 1965, WHEN THERE WERE AN ESTIMATED 200,000 BUNKERS ACROSS THE U.S., THE FEAR OF NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION WAS GROWING AND IT SOON REACHED GEORGE.

George:Well, you don't remember the era of duck got under your desk because a nuclear bomb was duck and cover.

          [Archival: Duck and cover]

George:When I went to school, they had the civil ceremony. They sound the alarm and everybody would dive under their desk. Right. Getting ready for the Soviet Union to nuke us.

     And then in’ 62 or thereabouts with the Cuban missile
     crisis, I’m watching it on TV,

[Archival: President John F. Kennedy broadcast a special message to the nation from his office in the whitehouse]

George:one second away from World War Three. [Archival:...an attack requiring a full retaliatory

          response against the Soviet Union]
MUSIQUITA

ASC: What made you sign up for the army?

George: Well the country was at war. And I'm an American, not an anarchist that was running around trying to destroy the world.

8

DURING HIS MILITARY SERVICE, IN THE EARLY 1970S, GEORGE WOULD BE STATIONED IN GERMANY. WHAT HE SAW DURING HIS SERVICE IMPACTED HIM EVEN AFTER HE RETURNED HOME.

George:I worked with nuclear weapons
And now I can only imagine what has progressed today since

I've been out of the military since the 70s.

George:People have no idea what's going to happen. We’ve used the atomic bomb but we haven’t used the hydrogen bomb yet but that seems just around the corner.

ASC: You talked about how you were a soldier, But this is a time also where there was a pretty big anti-war movement. But that never called to you.

George: Of course, no if I'm a soldier that makes me a basic conservative. Right? I'm also very religious. I’m also very religious. I was even religious then.

GEORGE WAS EXPLORING EVANGELICAL CHURCH SERVICES DURING THE 1970s, A MOMENT IN TIME WHEN THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT WAS GATHERING MOMENTUM, AND POLITICAL POWER. IN 1976 - JIMMY CARTER, A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN AND DEMOCRAT, WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT. BUT BY THE END OF THE DECADE, CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS HAD BECOME A FORCE IN THEREPUBLICAN PARTY, PROPELLING RONALD REAGAN INTO OFFICE.

     [Archival] Reagan: A chance to make our laws and government
     not only a model to mankind but a testament to the wisdom
     and mercy of God

AND CANDIDATE REAGAN WOULD STOKE THE SAME FEAR THAT GEORGE HAD - THAT HIS WAY OF LIFE COULD COME TO AN END, BECAUSE OF THE COLD WAR.

[Archival]Reagan: We must ask ourselves ”is America more secure? Are we more confident in peace in the world than we

9

were just four years ago?” You know the answer to those questions. And it is no.

Reagan: We must build peace upon strength. There is no other way.

ASC:yesterday, you said you are a young conservative man. And I find that to be a little bit antithetical to, you know, growing marijuana, so I'm curious how you thought about that then.

GEORGE:So that was the whole. That was where the money was at.Everything for the cause at that point. As far as being a conservative a conservative is a capitalist, isn’t he?

ASC: Where do you think you developed those those political views?

George: You know, like, good for me, I guess, and to me, it was inert in me. My dad was a Democrat (laugh), but I seen a different perspective, especially in the world, because the world, the world hates the United States, we got no friends. And if you want to find out who belongs to the world and see the poverty and despair out there and that this is the great experiment. You cannot go to Japan and become Japanese. OK, but you can come to Japan and be an American, go figure huh?

music

GEORGE’S NATIONALISM GOES HAND IN HAND WITH SURVIVALIST CULTURE. THE IDEA THAT ANYONE IN THE UNITED STATES CAN PULL THEMSELVES UP BY THEIR BOOTSTRAPS.

THE TERM “SURVIVALISM” WAS ACTUALLY FIRST USED IN PRINT IN 1976. IN A NEWSLETTER WRITTEN BY A MAN NAMED KURT SAXON. SAXON HAD ALREADY BEEN WRITING MANUALS ABOUT HOW TO LIVE OFF THE LAND, STORE FOOD, BUILD MUNITIONS AND STOCKPILE GUNS.

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Archival: these are survivalist manuals...pamphlets magazines and paperbacks on everything from self defense and food storage to building a fortified bunker.

KURT SAXON ALSO HAD A SERIES OF BOOKS CALLED “THE POOR MAN’S JAMES BOND.''

[Archival] Saxon: All hell is going to break out in a couple years, maybe 5, so I would like all of you to become self-sufficient and well-armed as possible.

THIS WAS AT THE SAME TIME THAT THE ANARCHIST COOKBOOK - A MANUAL ON HOW TO MAKE BOMBS AND EXPLOSIVES - BECAME POPULAR. A BOOK THAT GEORGE AND HIS FRIENDS USED IN PREPARATION FOR THE ROBBERY.

ASC:When did you start purchasing firearms?
George: All of this, as soon as I got out of the military.

when I first got stockbroking firearms, it just that I could purchase firearms. I'm in the military. I was around weapons for years and got used to them.

HE SAYS HE NEEDED TO BUY GUNS FOR PROTECTION

It was never an intention when I first started arming myself,that it was to rob a bank and to grow marijuana. I was arming myself because I knew eventually that we would fight the Soviet Union. I was convinced of that.

AND WHEN GEORGE MET CHRIS HARVEN - HIS PARKS DEPARTMENT COWORKER - THEY TALKED ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD WITH URGENCY.

George: We’d talk a lot about the political structure, what's going on and what what we perceive what was going to happen. We both believe that the great tribulation was getting ready to start.

ASC: When did you and Chris decide to move in together?

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George: When we decided that the tribulation was coming at any moment and it's time to button down the hatches, commit everything to the to the endeavor, to the cause.

ASC: So do you remember the house, what it looked like, how you chose it? What was, what was the thinking?

George: What house?
ASC:That house that you moved in with Chris.

George: We chose it because of the back, because of having a third of an acre. And the main thing the main thing to make the money was the marijuana crop.

     [You have 60 seconds remaining]

[laughs] Young lady you know you get me to gabbing and I can’t stop, I’m sorry.

IT’S AT CHRIS AND GEORGE’S HOUSE - WHERE THEY DUG THE BUNKER AND GREW THE WEED -THAT GEORGE PREACHED HIS IDEAS TO FRIENDS INCLUDING BILLY AND MANNY DELAGDO.

George: They were good young men. They were men of faith, they weren’t hoodlums gangsters or anything like that. They believed, they had good senses of humor. They were brothers to me, I would guess, because they became like my little brothers.

They would come visit just to isit. And Talk. Because they listened. And they perceived the same thing in the end, that's my influence on ‘em. Because I was so sure that this conflict was getting ready to happen.

THE CONFLICT GEORGE IS REFERRING TO IS THE END OF THE WORLD PROPHECY SOME CHRISTIANS INTERPRET IN THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS.

George: Well, there's a lot of different literature that looks like the Great Late planet Earth and stuff like that

12

that were out there at the time, like bestsellers. And so you would pick up on stuff like that and you would read it.

I got uh - I misled myself. ASC:What do you mean?

George: Well, I was I was convinced at that point that the tribulation was going to start at any time, I don’t know if you understand any christian theology but there's a time when the world is going to be so bad that it’'ll make World War Two and all of them look like child's play and me working with nuclear weapons and stuff like that...

George:If you really knew what it would look like, I think you’d have a little bit more concern.

But anyhow, I was convinced that it was going to. It was getting ready to start

Music

THERE’S A PART OF THE BIBLE THAT SOME INTERPRET TO SAY THAT THE RAPTURE, THE RETURN OF CHRIST, WILL HAPPEN A GENERATION AFTER ISRAEL BECOMES A NATION. GEORGE ORIGINALLY UNDERSTOOD A GENERATION TO MEAN SO FIGURED THE END OF THE WORLD WAS COMING AROUND 1980.

I thought a generation was 40 years in the Bible, [quotes scripture] Well later on, I find out after studying that myself in prison. It's one hundred and twenty years. So you know way off, way off base, And I believe it will start at any time, but not in the timeframe they expected at that time.

GEORGE FRAMES HIS MISTAKE AS ONE OF MISCALCULATION, THAT HE GOT THE MATH WRONG. BUT HE STILL BELIEVES THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END, SOMEDAY.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

13

WE’RE BACK.

ASC:The last series of questions I want to ask you, you know, we've been talking to a lot of people and people have said things about you, and I want to give you the opportunity to respond to very specific things that were said.

ASC:Whose idea was it to rob the bank?

George: [long pause]​ ​I’m not sure if it came up with me mentioning it or somebody else I don’t recall exactly who mentioned it, we just all eventually agreed on it.

ASC:Chris, in the interview with the police, he pretty directly says that it was your idea to come up with the robbery

George:It could have been. But, you know, I don't remember specifically saying this, rob a bank, but it could have been. I’m not going to say it wasn’t. But again I don't remember me actually bringing up robbing a bank, but it could have been.

GEORGE EVEN ADMITTED HIMSELF IN HIS INTERROGATION WITH THE POLICE THAT THE PLAN TO ROB THE BANK WAS HIS PLAN.

ASC:You told me on a previous call that before you went, the five of you vowed to not hurt or to not kill. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

George:To kill for money would be completely wrong for me. I can't speak for everybody, but we agreed that we were not going to kill. All of us are people of a skewed faith that was still faith and we knew it'd be wrong to kill for money, period. And then the. When the action started, that was what was happening and that's why they lost so many vehicles.

14

GEORGE IS REFERENCING THE OVER 30 PATROL CARS THAT WERE DAMAGED OVER THE COURSE OF THE ROBBERY, SHOOTOUT AND CHASE. HE IS CITING THAT AS EVIDENCE THEY NEVER MEANT TO SHOOT TOWARDS PEOPLE - THAT THEY WERE AIMING FOR VEHICLES.

ASC: Did you shoot towards the police? Were you shooting towards them when you were on Lytle Creek? Did you shoot toward the police?

George:I didn't fire a shot there.
ASC:If you didn't have any intent to kill, why did you

     bring such heavy firearms, such intense artillery?

George: Yeah, that was like it went against us, right, and we knew it was going against us, then you flee, and then you go into the mountains and you go in with what you got you got... If you're going to survive out there that you gotta have something to hunt with and things like that. Everything was to escape.

WHAT GEORGE IS TRYING TO SAY HERE IS THAT THEY HAD STOCKPILED WEAPONS AND THE SURVIVAL GEAR NOT FOR THE ROBBERY, BUT FOR AFTERWARDS - WHEN THEY WOULD FLEE INTO THE WILDERNESS.

George: You know, I did the robbery. I tried to do the robbery.Ok. I Did the robbery. I did fight back. Those things are fact, but as far as being Mad Dog Killer no.

A BIG POINT GEORGE WANTED TO BRING UP, WAS HOW MANNY HAD DIED. HE DIDN'T BELIEVE MANNY DIED BY HIS OWN HAND. GEORGE BELIEVES MANNY WAS EXECUTED BY THE POLICE.

George: Nobody commits suicide, the way with the angle that the bullets came down. He was on his knees and the guy stood over top of them and shot from a downward angle. And that's all in the autopsy report.

WE BROUGHT THIS UP IN A PREVIOUS EPISODE - THE AUTOPSY REPORT SAYS MANNY DIED FROM A CLOSE CONTACT WOUND TO THE CHEST. BUT CONTRARY TO WHAT GEORGE SAYS - THE REPORT STATES THAT THE ANGLE

15

OF THIS SHOT WAS “A STRAIGHT FRONTAL WOUND”. BUT THERE IS STILL SOME MYSTERY AROUND WHO SHOT THE FATAL ROUND BECAUSE THE BULLET THAT KILLED MANNY DELGADO WAS NEVER RECOVERED.

GEORGE: And like I said, I sent it to the Herald Examiner. I sent it to The Times. I couldn't get no traction anywhere from anybody, not even my attorney and then the district attorney drops the counts, so I can't bring it up in court. So they muzzled us real quick on that one, but I vowed then that I wouldn't forget it. And every time somebody would talk to me, I said “you remember Manuel Delgado was murdered.”

ASC:How did you find out that Emanuel had died?
George:Well, I found out in the hospital. My dad came to

see me. And he told me that both my friends are dead. ASC: do you remember how you felt?

George:Devastated. I condemn myself completely. Told the creator, father in heaven. I deserve to be sent to hell, the whole...with extreme prejudice upon myself.

THROUGHOUT OUR CONVERSATION I SOMETIMES FEEL A WAFFLING FROM GEORGE ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. HE AT TIMES ADMITS TO GOING AGAINST GOD’S WISHES, BUT HE ALSO POSITIONS HIMSELF AS SOMEONE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S MESSAGES.

AND HE STILL BELIEVES SOMETHING BIG IS COMING AND THAT NO ONE ELSE REALLY GETS IT

George: I still gave lectures yesterday to different people about the information that I know people don't know or they don't perceive to know.

THIS PARTICULAR POINT IS THE ONE I FIND MOST FRUSTRATING ABOUT GEORGE. I FELT A SENSE OF CONDESCENSION AS WE SPOKE - THAT HE BELIEVED THAT HIS PERCEPTION OF REALITY WAS SOMEHOW GREATER THAN EVERYONE ELSE’S.

16

THE MOMENT I FELT IT THE STRONGEST IS WHEN HE DISMISSED PREVIOUS STATEMENTS FROM HIS EX WIVES.

ASC:OK, then we've spoken to both Rosie Miranda and Hanne and they mentioned that you got physically violent with them, kicking Rosie in particular.

George: Physically violent? ASC:Yeah, physically violent.

George:I got mad at Hanne one time and I kicked her ass, but that's as far as that went and I apologize immediately after. Far as Rosie goes, that was 15, 15 years old. And I'm really immature. And as far as violence, I don't know, I might have slapped her. But the bottom line is there was no what you call...hitting her with my fist or beating her to a pulp. I slapped her once, twice. At 15.

ASC:She said says you kicked her in the stomach. When you thought she was pregnant.

George:I kicked her in the stomach?

ASC:That's what she said yeah.

George:(Laughing) No, I... didn’t do that. And maybe that's how she remembers a kick in ass. But no. It wasn't because she was pregnant. It was because she was telling me she's leaving in me. And I sorry I laugh at that. That is.... I thought you said.... I got no ill will for none of them. I prayed for both of them. Both Rosalinda, her name is Rosalinda and Hannelore.

GEORGE LATER WANTED TO CLARIFY SOME OF WHAT HE SAID HERE. HE SENT A STATEMENT, PART OF WHICH READS “I CARRY NO ILL WILL TOWARDS ROSALINDA. THE THINGS SHE REMEMBERS ABOUT ME ARE NOT TRUE. I NEVER KICKED HER IN THE STOMACH BECAUSE SHE SAID SHE WAS PREGNANT. NOR WANTED US TO DIE TOGETHER OR WANTED TO KILL ANYONE.”

17

Musiquita

ASC:This is the last question, what do you hope people take away after hearing the story? What do you hope that people who hear about this learn?

George:I did this for Emmanuel Delgado, and the Evans Family. What is what they take away with it is...I don't believe in lying. OK? So I. It happened 40 years ago, I was young and dumb and stupid, fine, and I haven't... I didn't pursue this interview, obviously, that you can tell them that, right. In fact, I've denied access to me from many people who have tried over the years to talk to me. I'm doing this now because. My tour of duty in his body's about done, like, I don't know how much longer I’m gonna last, and it doesn't matter, everybody dies.

So what we do is we do the best we can and we stay to the faith. There's a whole bunch more that people can't see because I've committed myself to finding the truth, those truths. And I've been doing that for 40 years in prison.

Music out

WHILE GEORGE HAS SPENT YEARS SEARCHING FOR TRUTHS BEHIND BARS, HIS DAUGHTER MONICA HAS ALSO BEEN SEARCHING, FOR A WAY TO COME TO TERMS WITH WHAT HER FATHER DID.

ASC: how were you processing all of that?

Monica: that’s what has brought me here to talk to you.

MONICA HAS WORKED TO RECONCILE TWO VERY DIFFERENT IDEAS OF HIM: THE FATHER WHO RUBBED HER FEET, WITH THE ROBBER WHO WIELDED ASSAULT RIFLES AND BOMBS IN NORCO, CALIFORNIA.

Monica: As I look back at my life and those things that made me who I am today good and bad, it was really difficult and really confusing to figure out how to balance the fact that - sorry I’m gonna get a little choked up - I loved this person so much and that this person did something so horrible. And the incredible shame that came

18

with it was this really dark secret. Like I said my relationship with my father had been very different.

And so even once he was in jail. I always used to say, to myself growing up was I had the best dad in prison.

Monica:I had this person who on the one hand, like I said, I you know, I loved. And it was very confusing, really difficult to process.

MUSIC

AND - THE WAY THAT SHE’S BEEN ABLE TO COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF HER FATHER’S ACTIONS - FOR HERSELF AND FOR HER FAMILY - IS BY THINKING OF THEM, IN SOME WAY, AS PROTECTIVE.

Monica: I think he felt - I don't think I know he felt a need to try to get my mother back, to change that, to again, to save... to save us all. And in the way he could do that is by literally physically saving us all.

BY STEALING MONEY TO BUY A BUNKER IN A REMOTE LOCATION

Monica:Like I said, even to this day, there's still a part of him that feels like he is going to still get to be.

Monica: The one to rescue and save us all in a save me and save our family and his ideas on how that's going to happen or or or what it might look like are different as time goes on. But I think that whole idea to him is still really appealing.

BEAT

George:​ ​I'll make sure Monica watches and see how you edit this thing, because I’m still leery. Right. Monica you there?

Monica: I'm here. Yes, I'm here. I was just on mute.

George:your dad loves you. Make sure you watch Antonia and them real close when they edit this thing and I'll talk to you later, OK?

19

Monica:OK

NEXT TIME ON NORCO 80.
‘THE BANK ROBBERY GOES FROM BEING AN EVENT TO POLICE LEGEND.

Archival: On May 9, 1980,. One of the most daring and spectacular bank robberies to occur in the United States took place here. Five heavily armed men would commit a robbery at this bank that would result in two of the suspects being killed...

IN OUR FINAL CHAPTER, HOW WE STILL FEEL THE IMPACT THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY TODAY.

This week’s episode of Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre and Marialexa Kavanaugh.

The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn is our editor. Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Fact checking by Amy Tardif.
Engineering by Stephanie Lebow
Original music by Zach Robinson.
This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

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Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more Norco 80, please follow or subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, The iHeart App, Or wherever you get your podcasts.

And don’t forget to rate and review the show.

END.

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EPISODE 6Chapter 6: The Trial
The “Norco 3” face the death penalty in one of the highest profile trials in Riverside County history. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

Episode 6: The Trial

LAST WEEK ON NORCO 80:

George:I was kind of in half a daze getting ready to pass out
Russ: I”m not gonna sit here and freeze; I’m gonna find Chris...or go to jail where it’s nice and warm

Rolf:When they talk about the arming of police in America, it starts here. It starts with the Norco bank robbery.
DJ: Let’s put it this way: I would rather go through the shooting again than put up with what I had to put up with in court. And what they called me, what they said I was doing, what I was reading in my newspaper when I got home..that I killed Evans.

THE PRESS REFERRED TO THE REMAINING ROBBERS, CHRIS HARVEN, RUSS HARVEN AND GEORGE SMITH, AS “THE NORCO 3.”

“THE NORCO 3” WERE HELD AT THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY JAIL. AND ABOUT A WEEK AND A HALF AFTER THEY WERE ARRESTED, THEY HAD SOME VISITORS.

Detective: It is ten oh one hours. Five nineteen Eighty. The following will be with Miss
Estrada and inmate Chris Harven.

THE POLICE MADE RECORDINGS OF SOME OF THESE VISITS. AND IN THEM, YOU CAN HEAR IT’S THE FIRST TIME THE ROBBERS HAD TO EXPLAIN WHAT THEY DID TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

ONE MORNING, CHRIS HARVEN, GEORGE’S ROOMMATE AND OLD-COWORKER FROM THE PARKS DEPARTMENT, MET WITH HIS NEW GIRLFRIEND OF THREE MONTHS: OLIVIA ESTRADA.

Chris:I wrote you a nice letter explaining everything I was going to get stamped envelopes today.

Olivia:I was going to bring you some stamp but I didn't. Chris:I love you.

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CHRIS HARVEN, WHO HAD PROBLEMS WITH INFIDELITY IN HIS MARRIAGE ACCORDING TO HIS EX-WIFE, HAD BEEN SEEING MULTIPLE WOMEN IN THE LEADUP TO THE ROBBERY, INCLUDING OLIVIA.

WHEN SHE VISITED SHE SAT ON ONE SIDE OF A PLEXIGLASS BARRIER, SPEAKING THROUGH A TELEPHONE TO CHRIS.

Chris: I just went berserk. Things were going down in my life that I didn't like. You were one of the only things that were... you know a shining woman.

CHRIS TRIED TO EXPLAIN TO OLIVIA, WHY ALL OF THIS HAD HAPPENED.

Olivia: I thought I was making you happy.
Chris: You were, you are, you're beautiful today. I know I

let you down a lot.
Olivia: I'm shocked.
Chris: I'm shocked too, I didn't know what I was doing.

THEY TALKED ABOUT THE SLUG HE STILL HAD UNDER THE SKIN OF HIS CHEST. CHRIS TOLD OLIVIA HE WAS WORRIED SHE WAS BEING HARASSED BY PRESS. “POOR OLIVIA” HE TOLD HER.

Chris: Poor olivia.
Olivia: What do you mean poor olivia?

Chris: Now, you’re suffering more than I am really.// I don’t know where I went wrong.​ ​I strayed off god's path for a moment and here I am.​ ​Billy and Manny and George were all running out of cash.

Olivia: So what was so important about that?
Chris: Nothing none of that's important now I realized

that.

I just want to look at you.

CHRIS TOLD HER “I JUST WANT TO LOOK AT YOU.”

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Chris: Sorry you met me?
Olivia: No, I'll never be sorry about that. I'll just never

understand why that's all.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

THE ORDEAL OF THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY DIDN’T END WITH THE ARREST OF THE THREE REMAINING ROBBERS.

THEIR HEAVILY-COVERED, HIGH-PROFILE TRIAL WOULD BE THE LONGEST TRIAL THAT RIVERSIDE COUNTY HAD EVER SEEN.

IT WAS FULL OF CONFUSING AND UNEXPECTED MOMENTS, AS THE ROBBERS FACED THE EXTENSIVE EVIDENCE OF THEIR CRIMES.

BUT BEFORE THE TRIAL EVEN STARTED, THEY WOULD SPEND MORE THAN A YEAR SITTING IN JAIL, PROCESSING WHAT THEY DID AND TRYING TO EXPLAIN IT TO THEIR FAMILIES.

CHAPTER 6: THE TRIAL

Chris: Outside of some legal miracle it looks like I'll be either confined for an exceptionally long time or be killed.

Olivia: You know that hunh? chris: Oh yeah. I accept it.

THEME MUSIC OUT

Detective: It is nine forty three hours, the next visit will be with Russell Harven and his father.

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NINE DAYS INTO THEIR JAIL STAY, RUSS HARVEN - THE QUIET YOUNGER BROTHER OF CHRIS HARVEN - WAS VISITED BY HIS STEP FATHER, WALT. HIS MOTHER WAS TOO DISTRAUGHT TO COME.

Russ: How's mom doing?

Father: Well, you know, she's got to have a little time to get over this. She she didn't feel up to coming out today. She's stuttering funny to hear her stuttering but she gets over that. It just happens once in a while.

Russ: Yeah, I'm really sorry that this happened. Father:Yeah well, it's happened.

Russ: Well I'm kind of sorry I'm kind of glad. Now I'm back to Christ.

IN JAIL, THE ROBBERS WERE RETREATING FURTHER INTO THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. RUSS SAID THE GUARDS KEPT THEM AWAY FROM OTHER INMATES

Russ: They don't let us have any contact with the prisoners at all because they're afraid we're going to infect the rest of the population. You know, they think we're revolutionaries or something. George’s cell is right next to ours we talk to him through a vent in the roof. We are always finding things in the bible that reaffirm our faith and show us that it’s real, you know?

RUSS SAID THEY TALKED TO GEORGE THROUGH A VENT IN THE ROOF. AND THEY HAD ALL DECIDED THERE HAD TO BE A DIVINE REASON THEY HAD SURVIVED THE ROBBERY.

Russ:Yeah well me and Chris we figure Jesus Christ has got to have something planned for us because like I had a head wound, it went in traveled under the skin then went out, I'm still alive.

Russ: So we figure Jesus Christ is watching over us for something

Father: Yeah, very good.

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IT’S HARD TO TELL WHETHER HIS STEPFATHER TOOK THIS SERIOUSLY. HE TRIED TO STEER RUSS TOWARDS THE PRACTICAL.

Father: Oh, what did you want to do with your Volkswagen? Russ: Iguess I don't know what do you guys want to do it. Russ:I'll never be driving it again.
Father: I don't know what else to say Russ.

EERIE MUSIC

RUSS BROUGHT THEIR CONVERSATION BACK TO RELIGION. HE TOLD HIS STEPFATHER NOT TO WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT HIS SITUATION. HE BEGAN RECITING THE SIGNS THAT THE END TIMES WERE COMING, SOON.

Russ: Idon't despair too much, as you know, we really believe how edgy the Russians are getting you know, they're going they're going to attack the whore of Babylon, which is the US.

HE SAID THE RUSSIANS WERE GOING TO ATTACK THE “WHORE OF BABYLON,” THE WHORE OF BABYLON REPRESENTS FOR SOME CHRISTIANS THE EMBODIMENT OF MORAL DECAY, AND, HER DOWNFALL IS A SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE. TO RUSS - IT REPRESENTED A CORRUPT, INDULGENT UNITED STATES, LOSING THE COLD WAR TO THE RUSSIANS.

Russ: And they said the fire raining down the sky, a lot of stuff that can only be interpreted only as nuclear war, you know, and talks about these different monsters. Like, you know, weird insects and mutations can radiate radiation. We just turn to Christ and if we keep our faith, something is going to happen.

Father:Well, I'm glad you guys have turned to the Bible, gives you some solace.

BUT WHILE THEY SAT IN JAIL AWAITING THE END TIMES THE NORCO 3 COMPLAINED ABOUT HOW THEY WERE BEING TREATED. RUSS SAID THEY WEREN’T GETTING EXERCISE, AND HE WASN’T GETTING ENOUGH INSULIN FOR HIS DIABETES.. THE NORCO 3 WOULD LATER MAKE AN OFFICIAL

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COMPLAINT TO THE COURT, SAYING THEY WERE INTENTIONALLY PREVENTED FROM SLEEPING, AND CONSTANTLY SUBJECTED TO CELL SEARCHES.

Russ: Last three days in a row, and they're rousting our cell they don't let us get any sleep at night, they're always banging doors, opening and banging our door. Father:I don’t know what’s usual in this type of big one, it’s a big one.

Russ: that’s what I hear. MUSIC

THIS CASE WAS ABIG ONE FOR RIVERSIDE COUNTY. THE NORCO 3 WOULD EVENTUALLY EACH BE CHARGED WITH 46 COUNTS, INCLUDING KIDNAPPING, ARSON, ARMED ROBBERY, AND FIRST-DEGREE MURDER.

RUSS AND CHRIS HARVEN WOULD HAVE PRIVATE ATTORNEYS AT TRIAL. GEORGE SMITH WOULD BE ASSIGNED A PUBLIC DEFENDER.

Debbie: I remember the phone call coming into the public defender's office. And I remember all the attorneys and, you know, running around and having meetings here and there.

DEBBIE ROSE WAS WORKING FOR THE RIVERSIDE PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE AT THE TIME. I ASKED HER TO DESCRIBE HERSELF.

Debbie: Oh, geez, now you're going to put me like I'm having a job interview, and that's been a while.

Debbie: Well, I'm fun. I’m a hard worker. Always have been a hard worker.

THIS WAS DEBBIE’S FIRST JOB OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL, DELIVERING SUBPOENAS. BUT EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS YOUNG, SHE WOULD GET ROPED IN TO HELP ON GEORGE SMITH’S DEFENSE.

Debbie: Everybody liked me in the office.

Debbie: Jeanne the investigator needed help because it was you know, we had to interview over 100 people. I mean they all were witnesses.

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DEBBIE WOULD BE HIRED TO HELP JEANNE PAINTER, THE CHIEF INVESTIGATOR. PART OF DEBBIE’S JOB WAS VISITING GEORGE SMITH AT THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY JAIL, SPENDING TIME GOING OVER NOTES WITH HIM ON THE CASE.

Debbie:I got this case right out of high school. I didn't know anything about the law or criminals or anything like that until I started working for the public defender's office. So I was very impressionable and innocent.

DEBBIE HAD NEVER MET SOMEONE LIKE GEORGE BEFORE.

Debbie:He even wrote a book while he was in jail and it's handwritten, and it was called Armageddon.Ithought, well. To me, I just thought that was looney tunes. I didn't think that was going to happen during my lifetime, I mean, because I'm pretty religious myself and read the Bible and all that.

BUT SHE WAS DETERMINED TO REPRESENT HER CLIENT AS WELL AS SHE COULD.

MUSIC

ALL THREE OF THE ROBBER'S LAWYERS, WOULD PETITION THE COURT TO HAVE THEIR OWN SEPARATE TRIALS. BUT THE COURT ULTIMATELY DECIDED WOULD BE TRIED TOGETHER.

AND BECAUSE OF THE SEVERITY OF THEIR CHARGES - ALL THREE WERE ALSO ELIGIBLE FOR THE DEATH PENALTY.

AT THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY JAIL - THE NORCO 3 KNEW THAT THE CHANCES OF A NOT - GUILTY VERDICT WERE BLEAK.

Father: You got any valuables in your room that we should know about, put away for you?
Russ: I'm not going to need any of that stuff, we're going straight to death row.

Father: Well, they haven't convicted you yet. Still not guilty.

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Russ: No matter what they do to us here, to our physical bodies, it doesn’t matter because we'll be spending eternity in heaven instead of going to hell.

RUSS HARVEN TOLD HIS STEP FATHER “NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO TO US HERE TO OUR PHYSICAL BODIES IT DOESN’T MATTER, BECAUSE WE’LL BE SPENDING ETERNITY IN HEAVEN.

That's about the only consolation we've been able to get by with. WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

MUSIC

WE’RE BACK. ACCORDING TO DEBBIE ROSE - THE INVESTIGATOR’S ASSISTANT FOR THE DEFENSE, THE STAKES OF THIS CASE COULD NOT BE HIGHER.

Debbie:It was like good versus evil. That's best well how I can put it. You know, bad versus good. It was supposed to be that the DA was good, but for me it was just the opposite.

DEBBIE BELIEVED GEORGE SMITH AND THE OTHER ROBBERS WERE JUST A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO WERE IN A TOUGH SPOT AND MADE A BAD DECISION.

Debbie: He was going to be losing his house, you know, it was going in foreclosure, they all needed money. They were all desperate.

THE DEFENSE TEAM ESTABLISHED THAT IT HAD ONE GOAL.

Debbie: We just did not want them to get the death penalty. And sent to to to die. That's all we were trying, we, of course, could not deny that the crime occurred. That would be silly.

MUSIC

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ON THE PROSECUTION SIDE -THEY ALSO HAD ONE GOAL - TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE NORCO 3 WERE GUILTY.

Debbie: Prosecutors. The main thing that we have to do on very serious cases is to make sure nothing goes wrong, because if a prosecutor is doing his or her job properly, you don't file losers into court. You don’t.

THIS IS KEVIN RUDDY - HE WAS A YOUNG AND EAGER DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE.

Debbie: It wasn't... tactically it was not a difficult case. It was pretty obvious what had occurred. And it was a matter of just being able to present that to a jury.

BUT STILL - THE PROSECUTION WAS FEELING A LOT OF PRESSURE. THIS WAS A CASE IN WHICH AN OFFICER DIED AND SO LOCAL POLICE AGENCIES WERE WATCHING CLOSELY. KEVIN COULD ONLY IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THEY WEREN’T ABLE TO CONVINCE THE JURY THAT THE ROBBERS WERE GUILTY.

Kevin: They're going to come after us with pitchforks and torches.

MUSIC CUE

GIVEN THE HIGH PROFILE OF THE CASE IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY, THE JUDGE GRANTED A REQUEST TO MOVE THE TRIAL DOWN AN HOUR AND A HALF SOUTH TO VISTA, CALIFORNIA - IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY WHERE JURORS WERE LESS LIKELY TO HAVE HEARD OF THE BANK ROBBERY.

DEBBIE REMEMBERS HAVING TO RELOCATE AND ROOM WITH HER BOSS JEANNE PAINTER.

Debbie: So they set us up. The public defender's office got us an apartment in Vista, California, which was very convenient, and so me and Jeanne...of course, she got the bed and I got a cot.

IN THE BALMY JULY HEAT OF SAN DIEGO, THE JURY SELECTION GOT OFF TO A SLOW START. WE CAN’T CONFIRM THIS BUT ACCORDING TO DEBBIE, IT TOOK SO LONG IT EVEN BROKE A RECORD.

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Debbie: For that time we made the Guinness Book - it was the longest jury selection. In history.

IT TOOK SO LONG PARTLY BECAUSE THIS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CALIFORNIA CASES IN YEARS WITH THE DEATH PENALTY ON THE TABLE.

IN 1972 - THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT HAD RULED THAT THE DEATH PENALTY WAS UNCONSITUTIONAL.

Archival: The state’s highest court ruled against the death penalty calling it “incompatible with the dignity of man and the judicial process.”

Kevin: So people that were on death row got a reprieve. Their cases were reverted to life in prison. That's why Charles Manson was in prison all these years.

BUT IN 1977, THREE YEARS BEFORE THE ROBBERY, THE DEATH PENALTY WAS REINSTATED IN CALIFORNIA. AND THE NORCO 3 TRIAL WOULD BE ONE OF THE FIRST DEATH PENALTY TRIALS TO TEST THAT LAW IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY.

AND THIS MEANT EVERY JUROR HAD TO BE WHAT’S KNOWN AS DEATH QUALIFIED .

Kevin: That means they're not completely against the death penalty and they're not completely in favor of it, except they have an open mind whether or not the death penalty should be an appropriate punishment.

FINALLY ON DECEMBER 15, 1981 - SIX MONTHS AFTER JURY SELECTION STARTED - 12 JURORS AND EIGHT ALTERNATES WERE SEATED.

A ONCE VERY CONFIDENT PROSECUTION TEAM, WAS FINDING ITSELF A LITTLE UNEASY.

Kevin: By the time we were getting 6 months into the jury, months into the trial, I was really concerned about something strange happening. Is something gonna go wrong? Are we not gonna convict them of everything...

Musiquita

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THE TRIAL BEGAN ON JANUARY 4, 1982 IN VISTA, CALIFORNIA. ALMOST TWO YEARS AFTER THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY.

THE STATE WOULD PRESENT THEIR CASE AGAINST THE ROBBERS FIRST.

Kevin: You don't go into a lot of detail. You want them to understand that, look, we had a group of people that consider themselves survivalists.

KEVIN RUDDY, THE PROSECUTOR, GAVE THE OPENING STATEMENT. NEXT TO HIM WAS A TABLE LOADED WITH WEAPONRY AS A VISUAL AID. BOMBS, ASSAULT RIFLES, AMMUNITION BOXES, EVERYTHING THE ROBBERS HAD BEEN ARMED WITH THAT DAY. HE ADDRESSED THE JURY- HOLDING AN ASSAULT RIFLE IN HIS HAND.

Kevin:You take them through the facts that occurred. They thought there was going to be Armageddon and they went about a plan to be able to run off into the mountains of Utah and survive.

AFTER THE OPENING STATEMENT - ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THE PROSECUTION DID WAS BRING IN THE FAMILY MEMBERS OF ALL THE ROBBERS.

INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE DELGADO FAMILY.

KEVIN:one of the things that I wanted to get out of the way was identifying the bank robbers that were one was killed at the bank. One was killed up in the mountain. OK; the Delgados.

THE PROSECUTION NEEDED TO IDENTIFY THE NORCO 3 AND THE TWO DECEASED DELGADO BROTHERS. TO ESTABLISH THAT THEY WERE FRIENDS AND GUN-ENTHUSIASTS. MANUEL DELGADO SR, THE FATHER OF 21-YEAR OLD MANNY AND 17-YEAR OLD BILLY WHO HAD BOTH DIED THAT DAY, RELUCTANTLY AGREED TO TESTIFY.

Kevin:Getting Delgado's father in there was basically laying a subpoena on him. And I remember the person who laid the subpoena had a discussion with him. Someone for your family is going to get subpoenaed. Who was who do you

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want it to be? And he basically said, OK, I'll take the subpoena. They weren't talking. They weren’t talking to us. You gotta keep in mind, if you look at the Delgados, both the sons were dead.

KEVIN QUESTIONED HIM FIRST BRIEFLY AND THEN A DEFENSE LAWYER TOOK OVER.

Kevin:I put him on the stand, had him identify some photographs. That's his son. I sat down and shut up. And then I don't know who the first defense attorney was, stood up. And “wasn't it true that he had sixty five bullet holes in him?”

THE DEFENSE WAS TRYING TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE WAY THAT MANNY DIED, TO IMPLY THE POLICE HAD OVERREACTED.

MANNY HAD BEEN SHOT 4 TIMES, BUT BECAUSE OF THE SPRAY PATTERN OF THE SHOTGUN PELLETS, HIS BODY HAD OVER 60 WOUNDS ON IT, ACCORDING TO THE AUTOPSY.

Kevin: So right off the bat, you could see what their defense was going to be. That it was a big out of control situation caused by the police.

WE REACHED OUT TO SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE DELGADO FAMILY WHO DECLINED TO BE INTERVIEWED. BUT FROM THESE BRIEF INTERACTIONS IT WAS CLEAR THAT THE LOSS OF TWO FAMILY MEMBERS IS STILL TRAUMATIC.

MUSIC

THEN, THE PROSECUTION BEGAN GETTING INTO THE MEAT OF THE CASE. THEY PRESENTED WITNESS AFTER WITNESS WHO HAD BEEN AT THE SCENE OF THE BANK AND IN THE CHASE. THEY MARCHED THROUGH THE EVENTS OF THAT LONG DAY IN MAY, WITH THE PURPOSE OF LAYING OUT EVIDENCE, BUT ALSO CLASHING OVER KEY DEBATED FACTS OF THE CASE.

TO MAKE THEIR CASE, BOTH LEGAL TEAMS WOULD NEED TO BE FAMILIAR WITH ALL THE GUNS USED THAT DAY. THE DEFENSE AND THE PROSECUTION WOULD EACH SEND SOMEONE TO TEST THE FIREARMS AND ANALYZE THEIR SPRAY PATTERNS.

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DEBBIE WAS THE PERSON SELECTED FROM THE DEFENSE TEAM. AND DESPITE THE SOMBER NATURE OF THE OUTING - SHE MANAGED TO HAVE FUN AND EVEN GET ALONG WITH A MEMBER OF THE PROSECUTION TEAM.

Debbie: Oh, I loved it. I loved that part, and actually, I was the first time I ever held a gun. And picture this I have this shotgun in my hand then he says, “OK, Now go ahead and shoot.” And I shot. And then he got right up against behind me again and caught me before I fell. We had to do different spray patterns is what we were after.

THROUGHOUT THE TRIAL, DEBBIE WAS ALSO STARTING TO GROW CLOSE TO GEORGE SMITH.

Debbie:And to me, he didn't seem harmful, I wasn't scared when I first met him, I wasn't scared at all. His hair was very thick, you know, he's got a big bushel of hair. And then he had these big glasses, these framed glasses. So it even made them look kind of nerdish.

ASC: Did it surprise you that you weren’t scared?

Debbie:It did. Yes, it did. Because of all of this hoopla. THE CASE WAS FREQUENTLY IN THE NEWS AND HER FAMILY DID NOT SHARE

HER ENTHUSIASM OVER HER JOB ON GEORGE’S DEFENSE TEAM.

Debbie:My family - they would get mad at me and, you know, I would try to explain and they just didn't want to hear it. You know this guy’s mean and guilty and “murderer.”

BUT DEBBIE SAYS SHE KNEW A DIFFERENT GEORGE.

Debbie: George was fun, I mean, I hate to say that, but he he's, you know, he's very witty, dry sense of humor, but always cracking a joke. I mean, he always.. he’d always try to keep me laughing for some reason.

AND WHEN SHE LOOKED AT HIM SHE DIDN’T SEE THE IMAGE THAT WAS IN THE NEWSPAPERS - A BEWILDERED MAN WITH CRAZED HAIR COVERED IN CUTS AND BRUISES, SHE SAW THE MAN SHE HELPED CLEAN UP. GEORGE HAD HIS HAIR CUT. HIS BEARD WAS TRIMMED DOWN TO A TIDY MOUSTACHE. DEBBIE

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WOULD BRING HIM HIS DARK SUIT AND STRIPED TIE EVERY MORNING BEFORE COURT WAS IN SESSION.

Debbie:You know, you don't you're not looking scraggly or nothing like that when you're going to court. You always make sure your client looks their best.

MUSIC

AFTER FOUR MONTHS, THE TRIAL FINALLY ARRIVED AT THE MOST CONTENTIOUS ISSUE OF THE CASE - THE QUESTION OF WHO KILLED OFFICER JIM EVANS IN LYTLE CREEK.

TO GIVE THE JURY A VISUAL AID OF THAT WINDING CHASE, A PROSECUTOR HAD COMMISSIONED A ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR SCALE MODEL OF THE MOUNTAIN THAT WAS OVER SIX FEET LONG AND TWO FEET WIDE. IT WAS MADE FROM CHICKEN WIRE, A COMPOUND PLASTER CALLED SCULPTAMOLD, GRAVEL, AND FEATURED REMARKABLY ACCURATE FIGURINES OF PEOPLE AND CARS.

OFFICERS WHO TOOK THE STAND WERE ASKED TO PAINSTAKINGLY PLACE A MINIATURE TRUCK AND POLICE VEHICLES ALL ALONG IT THROUGHOUT THEIR TESTIMONY. IT WAS JUST ONE OF THE DIZZYING ASPECTS OF THE TRIAL FOR DEPUTY SHERIFF DJ MCCARTY.

DJ: Are you familiar with the movie To Kill a Mockingbird? That's what it looked like. It was packed, packed to the gills. It's got this gigantic bench for the judge, it's all this ornate everything. You've got the press in the hallways taking pictures, people asking you questions.

DEPUTY SHERIFF DJ MCCARTY WAS THE OFFICER THAT WIELDED THE M16 HE WASN’T TRAINED TO USE AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.

AND FROM THE GET GO - HE WAS NOT HAPPY TO BE IN COURT.

DJ: While I'm sitting there, I am getting more and more nervous, and I remember sitting there going, “I can't do this, I can't do this.” And I looked down in the lapel of my jacket, my suit jacket is bouncing up in the air with a heartbeat. And I went “I can't do this.”

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THE REASON DJ WAS EXTREMELY NERVOUS IS THAT UNLIKE MOST OTHER OFFICERS WHO HAD TO SIMPLY RECOUNT WHAT THEY REMEMBERED FROM THAT DAY, DJ ALSO HAD TO DEFEND HIMSELF: THE ROBBERS’ ATTORNEYS WERE ARGUING THAT DJ WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR OFFICER JIM EVANS’ DEATH.

HE HAD ALREADY HEARD RUMORS IN THE PRESS AND AT THE OFFICE ABOUT THIS ACCUSATION.

DJ:I've heard people talking, you know, about, hey, I had no business being up there with a gun he didn't know how to handle. And did he shoot Evans?

THIS WOULD BE A HUGE DEAL FOR THE NORCO 3’S CASE. THE MOST SERIOUS OFFENSE THEY WERE CHARGED WITH WAS KILLING AN OFFICER.

THE DEFENSE ARGUED THAT DEPUTY SHERIFF DJ MCCARTY FIRED THE FATAL ROUND INVOLUNTARILY, SHOOTING THE M16 THROUGH HIS WINDSHIELD WHILE HE WAS INSIDE HIS VEHICLE.

Debbie:Officer Evans. was shot by a police officer. You know, when he turned his head around, he caught it right in the eye and it killed him instantly.

TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS, BOTH LEGAL TEAMS NEEDED DJ TO HAND OVER PART OF THE EVIDENCE THAT HAD BEEN ODDLY GIFTED TO HIM AFTER THE SHOOT-OUT.

DJ: My buddies at Fontana Station, took the windshield out, had the windshield Bullet holes cut out of it, and presented to me.

THIS MORBID MEMENTO HELD THE ANSWER TO WHETHER THE BULLET IN THE WINDSHIELD CAME FROM WITHIN OR OUTSIDE OF THE VEHICLE

DJ: So they sent that to the labs, send it back east somewhere to prove that they're trying to say that I shot out the window.

A CRIMINALIST WOULD LATER TESTIFY THAT THE BULLET HOLES IN THE WINDOW HAD DEFINITELY COME FROM THE OUTSIDE, NOT FROM DJ INSIDE THE VEHICLE.

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DJ: And then they tried to do the thing that the bullet that was in Evans's head was my bullet because it was so deformed that you couldn't do ballistics on it.

THE DEFENSE AND PROSECUTION FOUGHT ON AN ON OVER THIS. THEY BOTH PUT CHEMISTS ON THE STAND WITH OPPOSING OPINIONS.

MUSIC

TO CONCLUDE THIS QUESTION OF WHO KILLED JIM EVANS, THE JUDGE DID SOMETHING UNUSUAL. HE REQUESTED THAT THE JURY MAKE A SPECIAL FINDING TO DETERMINE THE KILLER. IT WAS PRESENTED LIKE A MULTIPLE CHOICE QUIZ. THE JURY COULD VOTE BETWEEN ANY OF THE SURVIVING ROBBERS, THE LATE MANNY DELGADO, A POLICE OFFICER... OR THEY COULD SAY THAT THEY COULDN’T DETERMINE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT

A VOTE WOULD DETERMINE WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR JIM EVAN’S DEATH.

THE BALLOT THAT HE WOULD GET BACK FROM THE JURY WOULD HAVE A CHECKMARK NEXT TO ONE NAME: MANNY DELGADO. MANNY WAS THE OLDER DELGADO BROTHER WHO DIED IN LYTLE CREEK.

THIS WAS A WIN FOR RUSS, CHRIS AND GEORGE. BECAUSE AT LEAST, THEY WEREN’T SEEN AS THE DIRECT MURDERERS OF JIM EVANS.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

MUSIC OUT

WE’RE BACK.

THE NORCO 3 TRIAL WAS MARKED BY A CONTENTIOUS ATMOSPHERE BETWEEN THE PROSECUTION AND THE DEFENSE. THAT AT TIMES WOULD DESCEND INTO THE ABSURD.

MUSIC

DJ MCCARTY SAID THAT WHEN HE WAS ON THE STAND, THE ROBBERS ANTAGONIZED HIM FROM THE DEFENSE TABLE.

DJ: just some of the stupidest things, one of them shot a rubber band at me while I was on the stand. They would put

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their hands in certain positions while I was testifying and flip me off.

AT ANOTHER POINT DURING AN ARGUMENT BETWEEN THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND A DEFENSE LAWYER, THEY BEGAN FLINGING OFFICE SUPPLIES AT EACH OTHER IN FRONT OF THE JURY.

“I WOULD ADMONISH ALL COUNSEL” SAID THE JUDGE. “DON’T THROW PENCILS.”

Debbie: And they developed a hatred, I think, for one another because they just they pounded each other.

IT WAS CALLED THE “PENCIL FENCING INCIDENT” IN THE PRESS.

MUSIC OUT

Kevin: And one time the judge photographed the jury.
AND KEVIN RUDDY THE PROSECUTOR, SAYS THE JUDGE IN THE MIDDLE OF

TESTIMONY, TOOK OUT HIS OWN CAMERA.

Kevin: Well, this defense attorney was examining a witness and all of a sudden the judge pops up with his camera and takes a picture of the jury. And so the attorney says, your honor, I object, I'm asking questions of this witness. And the judge goes “oh I just wanted to get a picture of the jury,” so the jury was looking at him and the camera and not the witness on the stand.

It's the only time I agreed with one of the defense attorney's objections.

AND IN LATE APRIL OF 1982, THE CASE WOULD ALMOST BE DERAILED BY A MISTRIAL.

IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE BANK ROBBERY. INSTEAD, THE CONFLICT WAS OVER GEORGE’S INVESTIGATOR, JEANNE PAINTER.

DEBBIE:Jeannie was tall. She was of blond hair. And I would say she was five nine probably.

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JEANNE WORKED ON GEORGE SMITH’S DEFENSE AND DURING THE TRIAL SHE LIVED WITH HER ASSISTANT DEBBIE ROSE.

Debbie: And she looked like Twiggy and that’s no joke. she also wore glasses, framed glasses and... very smart. She always found a lot of good case law.

ONE DAY, JEANNE PAINTER WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A VISIT WITH GEORGE SMITH, WHEN THE VISTA JAIL DEPUTIES SUDDENLY EJECTED HER.

THEY WOULDN’T GIVE HER A REASON WHY, BUT LATER A JAIL EMPLOYEE REPORTED SEEING HER ENGAGE IN “SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY OF A SEXUAL NATURE” WITH GEORGE IN THE VISITORS BOOTH. THE JAIL REPORT WAS LEAKED TO THE PRESS.

DEBBIE SAYS SHE REMEMBERED JEANNE TALKING TO GEORGE ON THE PHONE.

Debbie: she couldn't hide it because I was living there and he would call her on the phone and, you know. And I could tell by you can tell by the tone.

REPORTERS DUG UP THAT JEANNE HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY MARRIED TO A FORMER CLIENT WHO WAS SERVING TIME FOR SECOND-DEGREE MURDER.

JEANNE WAS PLACED ON LEAVE FROM THE PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE. AND GEORGE’S LAWYER MOVED FOR A MISTRIAL - CITING THE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY.

SHE WOULD BE DISMISSED FROM THE PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE ON MAY 13, 1982. BUT SHE WOULD CONTINUE TO WORK AS A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FOR GEORGE SMITH’S CASE.

Kevin: In some respects it didn’t really surprise me. But thinking about it was what’s next, because the case case was already strange enough.

AND IT WOULD GET STRANGER

MUSIC

18

IN A RISKY GAMBLE TO SECURE A NOT GUILTY VERDICT, CHRISHARVEN AND HIS LAWYER DECIDED TO TELL AN ALTERNATIVE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED THE DAY OF THE ROBBERY.

Kevin: When he was interviewed by the police. He admitted being involved, going to the bank robbery and everything he gets on the stand and basically says that he got out of the van.

CHRIS WOULD TAKE THE STAND AND HE WOULD TESTIFY - CONTRARY TO HIS PREVIOUS COMMENTS TO POLICE - THAT HE WAS ACTUALLY NEVER AT THE BANK THAT DAY.

AND IN FACT- SOMEONE ELSE HAD DONE THE THINGS HE WAS ACCUSED OF ALONG WITH GEORGE SMITH AND RUSS HARVEN.

Kevin: And it was Jerry Cohen who was. The third guy inside the bank.

HE SAID A MAN, NAMED JERRY COHEN HAD BEEN A PART OF THEIR PLAN. HE SAID HE WAS A MAN WITH A BOBBED “PRINCE-VALIANT” STYLE HAIRCUT WHO “ALWAYS HAD A GOOD TAN.” THE PROBLEM WAS CHRIS HAD NEVER MENTIONED A JERRY COHEN BEFORE,.NONE OF THE ROBBERS HAD.

Kevin: Now apparently he was asked, well, why didn't you say this to the police? First off. “I didn't trust the police, you know? You know.”

CHRIS SAID THAT HE HAD REFUSED TO BE PART OF THE BANK ROBBERY, THAT INSTEAD JERRY COHEN HAD BEEN THE ONE TO ROB IT. HIS LAWYER PRESENTED WITNESSES THAT HAD HEARD THE ROBBERS CALL OUT THE NAME “JERRY” INSIDE THE BANK.

Debbie: But by God, where they came up with that, I have no idea. Let's pull someone out of the sky I guess.

HE SAID THE OTHER ROBBERS HAD FORCEDHIM TO DRIVE THEIR YELLOW TRUCK INTO THE WILDERNESS WHERE THEY SURRENDERED.

KEVIN:​ ​I've heard some big ones, OK, even at that point in time. And this was just amazing.

19

THIS INVENTION OF ANOTHER MAN WHO DID THE ROBBERY - WHO HADN’T BEEN CAUGHT AND WAS STILL AT LARGE - IT WASN’T JUST AN OUTLANDISH CONCEPT, IT WOULD SERIOUSLY DAMAGE THE OTHER TWO ROBBERS CASE.

BECAUSE WHEN CHRIS WAS QUESTIONED ABOUT JERRY COHEN ON THE STAND - HE WAS ALSO QUESTIONED ABOUT HOW THIS NEW TESTIMONY DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED WHAT HE HAD TOLD POLICE ON TAPE.

AND ON TAPE, HE HAD DIRECTLY IMPLICATED HIS FRIEND GEORGE AND HIS BROTHER RUSS IN THE CRIMES OF THAT DAY.

Detective: Who ran the show? Somebody was running the show

Chris: George is the one who ran the whole show what we were going to do. Thats george’s bank, cased it out while he was there doing his bank work.

IT WAS A BLOW TO RUSS AND GEORGE.

KEVIN: And then the next day he's in the court room and he has a bruise on his face. And they put him on the stand. He said he got beat up in the jail because now they're calling him a snitch.

CHRIS HARVEN WOULD ONLY SAY “INMATES” HAD BEATEN HIM, SAYING “THEY TOLD ME TO SHUT UP AND I HAD BETTER STAY OFF THE STAND.”

MUSIC

ON JULY 8, 1982, AFTER AN EXHAUSTING YEAR OF BITTER ARGUING, ANTICS, AND UPSETTING TESTIMONY, ALL THE EVIDENCE WAS GIVEN AND THE TRIAL WAS COMING TO A CLOSE. THERE HAD BEEN MORE THAN 200 WITNESSES.

ASC: Before the jury was sequestered, like when all of the evidence was presented, how were you feeling? How was the team feeling?

Kevin: Well, the thing is, when you when you do the arguments, you know, when you listen to it, all you could really see that... the defense really had nothing to say. Yeah, they they did have something to say in terms of what gun fired the fatal shot for Jim Evans. But in terms of

20

minimizing the conduct of any of the defendants, they couldn't do it.

AT THIS STAGE IN THE GAME, THE DEFENSE’S INVESTMENT WAS MORE THAN JUST PROFESSIONAL.

Debbie: And I mean, I grew a liking to them as well. You know, I was there every day. I mean, you don't, you know, see them every day without developing some type of friendship.

ASC: So how did you feel your chances were?
Debbie:Ummm, you never know with a jury. Sometimes they looked bewildered.

THE JURY WOULD DELIBERATE FOR 15 DAYS

Kevin: So finally one time at around 4 o clock the tell us they have verdicts.

JAIL GUARDS PROMPTLY BROUGHT THE DEFENDANTS THEIR SUITS WHILE ATTORNEYS HOPPED INTO THEIR CARS AND RUSHED TO THE COURTHOUSE.

BY 7:45 PM, THE SPECTATOR GALLEY WAS CRAMMED WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DEFENDANTS. SOME WHO HAD ANXIOUSLY ATTENDED EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE TRIAL FOR SIX GRUELING MONTHS.

GEORGE SLUMPED HIS HEAD ON THE TABLE AS THE FOREMAN BEGAN TO READ.

Debbie: I remember all I kept hearing... and it started ringing in my ears is guilty, guilty, guilty...like guilty on on on everything, even the littlest things.

It rang, it actually was ringing in my ears. Guilty, guilty...

DEBBIE TURNED HER ATTENTION TO THE PROSECUTION WHO SHE KNEW WOULD BE HAPPY TO HEAR THESE RESULTS.

Debbie: they're practically jumping up and down hearing all those guilties.

21

     And I they were doing, you know, fist pumps, you know what
     I mean?

The “Yeah! yeah!”

KEVIN RUDDY OF THE PROSECUTION REMEMBERS THAT MOMENT

Kevin: And we were relieved. You know, we didn't screw up. MUSIC OUT

EVEN IF THE JURY DID NOT THINK ANY OF THE NORCO 3 HAD SHOT THE FINAL ROUND THAT KILLED OFFICER EVANS, THEY STILL FOUND THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH.

THE NORCO 3 WERE FOUND GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES, BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT RULING WAS STILL TO BE CANNOUNCED.

THE NORCO 3 WOULD RETURN TO COURT AND AWAIT THEIR FATE. TO LEARN WHETHER THEY WOULD GET LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR THE DEATH PENALTY.

WHETHER THEY WOULD LIVE OR DIE.

MUSIC

NEXT TIME ON NORCO 80 -

ASC:Hello!
George:Is this Antonia?
ASC: Yes, hi George, can you hear me? George:I can.​ ​Are you set up?
ASC:Yes, we’re recording right now

GEORGE SMITH GRANTS US HIS FIRST EVER RECORDED INTERVIEW.

George:I’ve kept my silence because I thought this thing would just go away but obviously it hasn’t and there are things that should be said.

22

NEXT WEEK, OUR CONVERSATION.

MUSIC OUT

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre. The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardif.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow

Original music by Zach Robinson.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

23

If you want to hear more Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

24

EPISODE 5Chapter 5: Big Guns
After the chase finally ends, a shell-shocked police force demands bigger, more powerful weapons. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

A Quick Warning: Some of this series includes descriptions of graphic violence

LAST WEEK ON NORCO 80

Radio Traffic:[shouting] We need the highway blocked...321 have them send about five units at this time.

George Smith:We’re in Lytle Creek, what we’re trying to do is hit the engines on the police vehicles to stop them. I wasn’t trying to kill people...

Jim Evans:We’re being fired upon.

Radio Traffic:hit!

DJ McCarty:He him instantly...

Radio Traffic:
Mary [Evans]:He sent many memos to the sheriff that last

year before he died. Radio Traffic:Jim Talk

Mary:He told them “we need military assault rifles.” it’s almost like he could see it coming. He’d tell me: something big is gonna happen.

MUSIC

     We request that you maintain minimum traffic. We have a
     very hazardous situation. Several officers shot.

AFTER THE ROBBERS SCATTERED INTO THE FOREST, AN EIGHT MAN SWAT TEAM FROM SAN BERNARDINO BEGAN TO MAKE ITS WAY UP THE MOUNTAIN IN THE FADING DAYLIGHT. THEY WOULD TAKE OVER THE OPERATION TO SEARCH FOR THE ROBBERS.

DEPUTY SHERIFF DJ MCCARTY, WHO HAD BEEN THE LAST OFFICER TO FACE OFF WITH THE SUSPECTS AND HAD SEEN JIM EVANS KILLED BEFORE HIS

Edward 20 unit with Evans?  That unit’s been
took a round in the right eye which killed
Evans you there?

VERY EYES WAS LEAVING THE SCENE AND WALKING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN WHEN HE SAW THE SWAT TEAM.

ASC:I'm curious if this is true and why you said it, that you told the SWAT team to not try to capture the robbers, to just fucking shoot them.

DJ:​ ​Yes. I don't think it was exactly that way. But I remember the guys that were walking by, and you got to understand, what I was trying to tell them was, don't warn him as soon as you see them open up on him because they're going to do it to you.

DJ TOLD ME HE WISHED THAT HE HAD BEEN BETTER TRAINED, SO THAT HE COULD FULLY USED THE POWER OF THE AUTOMATIC WEAPON HE HAD THAT DAY.

DJ: Might have been a different outcome.
ASC:​ ​What do you think the outcome would have been?

DJ: I think I would have tried a hell of a lot harder to kill all four of them.

ASC:And you think that would have been justice served?

DJ:Well, Antonia, it's kind of hard, I realize where you're going with that, but when people are trying to kill you, when they've shot eight cops, civilians, robbed a bank... and they're shooting at you? Yeah, I want to kill them. I don't want to capture them.

     And that’s just being flat honest. They made the decision
     of what they’re going to do.

ASC:​ ​You know, I hear that I just wanna say. I'm very moved by your story. And I've been very moved hearing you speak. But I do want to talk about some tough stuff because I mean, hearing you say that. For instance, for me, my first impulse is, you know, it's not your role to say what the punishment should be.

DJ: Well, would I... if I had the choice of the death sentence or multiple life sentences, which would I choose? Is that what you’re saying?

ASC:​ ​No, the point I'm saying is that I think that it is the court system that decides what punishment should be levied on those men, you know. So whether they die or not is, you know, it makes me sad to hear you say that you would like would have wanted to kill them, because ultimately that's not your role.

DJ: No, it’s not. It’s not my role to go out and kill. But when like I said, I think you're missing my point. They made the choice of what they're going to do. They planned this out very, very meticulously. So when it got to me after six cops at this shot, I think three civilians blown up half two counties... when it got to me and they opened up on me? I'm not thinking about incarceration. I'm not thinking about capturing. I'm thinking about defending myself and killing them. Not wounding. Killing them. Stopping the threat. I know that sounds terrible, but I've been retired for a long time, so I can tell you the truth. I was not there to capture them. Now, if they threw their hands up in the air and dropped their weapons and laid on the ground. I'm not going to execute them. That's not me. But as long as they're shooting at me, I'm going to kill them.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

CHAPTER 5: BIG GUNS

IN RESPONSE TO THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY AND SUBSEQUENT CHASE, AN ANGRY POLICE FORCE WOULD DEMAND CHANGE.

Rolf: When they talk about the arming of police in America it starts here, it starts with the Norco bank robbery

THEME OUT

GEORGE SMITH HAD BEEN SHOT IN THE FIREFIGHT OUTSIDE THE BANK. AND HE WOULD TELL THE DETECTIVE THAT ONCE THEY GOT UP INTO THE MOUNTAINS HE WAS LOSING SO MUCH BLOOD, HE COULDN’T FIGHT BACK ANY LONGER

George: Yeah I was so badly hit I lost [beaucoup] blood. Detective:But you had your gun.
George:Yes and I gave it to the other guys.
Detective:And you were firing.

George: No like i said i was too bad hit, I was feeling very weak. Chapped lips like I had lost too much blood.

WHEN THE ROBBER’S YELLOW TRUCK GOT TO THE DEADEND AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, THEY ABANDONED THE VEHICLE AND GEORGE SMITH TOLD THE OTHERS THEY HAD TO GO ON WITHOUT HIM.

George: And then when they jumped out of the van I told 'em - out the truck I told 'em I'm too bad hit. You guys have to go on without me. So then I jumped off to the side.

AS THE OTHER ROBBERS SHOT BACK TOWARDS THE OFFICERS, GEORGE SAID HE SLIPPED AWAY AND LAYED DOWN ON THE COLD DAMP GROUND.

Detective: Do you know what happened to the others? George: No. That was all up to them then cause I figured

I'd had it.
Detective:Did they say where they were going? George:No.

THE REST OF THE ROBBERS THEN DISPERSED INTO THE FOREST FIGURING THAT IT WOULD BE HARDER TO CAPTURE THEM IF THEY ALL WENT IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.

AS NIGHT DESCENDED UPON THE MOUNTAIN - FAR UP AND AWAY FROM CITY LIGHTS - THE OFFICERS ON SCENE DECIDED WAIT TILL THE SUN CAME UP TO BEGIN THE MANHUNT.

THROUGH THE NIGHT GEORGE WAS SO WEAK AND DELIRIOUS HE LOST HIS GRASP ON THE CONCEPT OF TIME. HE TOLD THE DETECTIVE HE LAID IN THE RAIN FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS WHEN IN REALITY HE HAD BEEN OUT IN THE WOODS FOR LESS THAN 12 HOURS.

George: I laid in the rain for a couple days. I was in kind of half a daze getting ready to pass out.

RUSS HARVEN, CHRIS’S YOUNGER BROTHER WAS STARTING TO GET ANTSY SITTING IN THE PITCH BLACK WILDERNESS ALONE. HE WOULD LATER TELL A DETECTIVE ABOUT IT.

George: I started walking down the road because I figured I’m not gonna sit here and freeze. I’m gonna find Chris or go to jail, you know? where it’s nice and warm.

RUSS SAID “I STARTED WALKING DOWN THE ROAD BECAUSE I FIGURED I’M NOT GONNA SIT HERE AND FREEZE. I’M GONNA FIND CHRIS OR GO TO JAIL WHERE IT’S NICE AND WARM.

Russ: Ifound Chris had a little fire going down there and I saw this fire.

RUSS SAW A FIRE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE MOUNTAINSIDE AND FOLLOWED IT. IT TURNED OUT CHRIS HAD STARTED IT. THE BROTHERS WOULD SPEND THEIR LAST NIGHT OUT IN THE WORLD TOGETHER.

MUSIC

AT DAY BREAK, THE OFFICERS SET OUT TO SEARCH FOR THE ROBBERS. A LITTLE AFTER 8AM, FOUR OFFICERS FROM THE SAN BERNARDINO SWAT TEAM AND THREE SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES WERE COMBING THROUGH THE CANYON WHEN THEY HEARD A VOICE YELLING.

IT TURNED OUT TO BE GEORGE SITTING BEHIND A MANZANITA BUSH WAVING HIS HANDS AND SURRENDERING.

WITHIN THE HOUR, DETECTIVE ROSS DVORAK WOULD BE ON THE SCENE READY TO INTERROGATE GEORGE.

Dvorak:George, I’m Dvorak from Sheriff’s homicide. Do you understand that? What’s your full name?

George:George Smith...Wayne Smith.

AT THE SAME TIME - ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN - ANOTHER GROUP OF OFFICERS WERE ROLLING THROUGH IN A JEEP WHEN THEY CAME UPON CHRIS AND RUSS HARVEN. THEY WERE QUICKLY HANDCUFFED AT GUNPOINT.

GEORGE, CHRIS AND RUSS WERE ALL ARRESTED.

NOW THE ONLY ROBBER LEFT ON THE MOUNTAIN WAS MANNY DELGADO. MANNY WAS THE OLDER BROTHER OF BILLY DELGADO THE 17 YEAR OLD DRIVER POLICE HAD SHOT AND KILLED OUTSIDE THE BANK.

Helicopter sounds

John: We were searching for the outstanding suspect.

JOHN PLACENSIA WAS ONE OF THE HELICOPTER PILOTS WHO WAS RADIOING DOWN TO THE OFFICERS ON FOOT. HE TRIED TO GRASP WHAT WAS HAPPENING AS HE HOVERED ABOVE.

John: As we searched the area in the helicopter we spotted yellow gloves. dishwashing yellow gloves, and apparently it got so cold during the night that this guy wore those gloves to keep his hands warm.

     We directed the SWAT officers from L.A. County towards
     where we had spotted the gloves.

WITHIN THE LA SHERIFF’S OFFICE, THE SWAT TEAM WAS OFTEN CALLED THE “HUNT AND KILL” TEAM.

MANNY WAS LYING ON HIS STOMACH, UNAWARE THAT TWO OF THE SWAT OFFICERS WERE APPROACHING HIM. ONE OF THE OFFICERS REMEMBERS

YELLING FREEZE AND SEEING MANNY LIFT UP ONTO ALL FOURS, WITH A GUN IN HIS HAND. THE TWO OFFICERS BEGAN TO SHOOT.

John: And shortly thereafter, we heard on the police radio that shots were fired and that suspect was down.

THE FIRST SHOT, SUNK INTO MANNY’S RIGHT SHOULDER. THEN A SECOND BULLET WENT STRAIGHT THROUGH HIS HEART AND KILLED HIM INSTANTLY. HE WAS SHOT A TOTAL OF FOUR TIMES.

THERE REMAINS SOME MYSTERY AROUND THE FATAL BULLET. THE AUTOPSY SAYS THAT THE GUN THAT KILLED MANNY WAS TOUCHING HIS SKIN WHEN IT WAS FIRED.

A THEORY WOULD CIRCULATE IN THE PRESS THAT IN HIS LAST MOMENTS, MANNY HAD ACTUALLY SHOT HIMSELF.

BUT IN AN INTERVIEW, THE CORONER SAID “WE REALLY CAN’T SAY IF DELGADO DIED FROM HIS OWN GUN.”

THE BULLET THAT KILLED HIM WAS NEVER RECOVERED.

BOTH DELGADO BROTHERS HAD LOST THEIR LIVES TO THIS HEIST GONE TERRIBLY WRONG.

MUSIC

THE CHASE WHICH COVERED OVER 40 MILES AND ENDED WITH 11 INJURIES AND THREE FATALITIES WAS OVER.

BUT WHAT HAPPENED IN UNDER A DAY, WOULD SPARK A SERIES OF EVENTS THAT WOULD SPIRAL OUT FOR YEARS.

STARTING WITH AN OUTCRY WITHIN THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

WE’RE BACK

THE SHERIFF OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY WAS AN, IMPOSING MAN, WITH CLIPPED WHITE HAIR NAMED BEN CLARK.

ASC: Can you describe Ben Clark, what did he look like?

Cois: Idon’t know, Short hair, slightly overweight.

COIS BYRD WORKED CLOSELY UNDER BEN CLARK FOR YEARS. A WELL-REGARDED POLITICIAN, CLARK HAD BEEN SHERIFF FOR THE LAST 17 YEARS, WON 4 ELECTIONS.

Cois: And had a steel trap mind that I admired all of my life and still do.

     He was seen as somewhat stoic. When questioned, he could be
     very stone face, and he’d simply sit there for as long as
     he needed to sit there until the other person became
     uncomfortable. Kind of an interesting personality.

BEN CLARK DIED IN 2005, HE SPENT A TOTAL OF 36 YEARS IN THE DEPARTMENT. AND COIS REMEMBERS HOW THE DAY OF THE ROBBERY, BOTH HE AND THE SHERIFF WERE IN THE OFFICE, LISTENING TO THE DRAMATIC EVENTS UNFOLD ON THE DISPATCH.

Dispatch:[Beep] Riverside to Norco Units, we have a 211 in progress
Andrew Delgado Monti: Suspects fled, yellow pickup north on Hamner

Rolf Parkes:Northbound, Go! Evans:We’re taking rounds...

AT THE END OF THAT LONG DAY - AFTER MANAGING THE BANK ROBBERY, THE CHASE, AND THE SHOOT-OUT. SHERIFF BEN CLARK HAD ONE MORE DIFFICULT TASK AHEAD OF HIM.

JUST AFTER 11PM, HE WENT TO THE HOME OF MARY EVANS, WIFE OF JIM EVANS, TO NOTIFY HER THAT HER HUSBAND WAS SHOT AND KILLED IN LYTLE CREEK CANYON. SHE WAS RETURNING HOME FROM THE BABYSITTER’S

Mary:And as soon as we come up the hill, my neighbors are outside and I say, Oh, brother. And there was Ben Clark and Ben Clark. You couldn't miss them because he was about six four, six five. It's a big man, OK? So I walked up to him. And I said to him, Where's my husband? Nobody will tell me

     anything. I'm tired of this runaround. You tell me right
     now, where is my husband?

MARY WAS FRUSTRATED. IT HAD TAKEN THE SHERIFF HOURS TO NOTIFY HER OF HIS DEATH.ANDSHE WAS ALSOMAD BECAUSE JIM HAD BEEN WORRIED FOR MONTHS THAT SOMETHING LIKE THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY COULD HAPPEN.

Mary: Iwas so angry at that man, I'll tell you, and I looked up at him and I said to him, well, let me tell you something. Your term was up. He said he was going to run against you and take your job because he knew what he was doing. But evidently you don't.

SHE TOLD THE SHERIFF - IF HER HUSBAND HAD LIVED, HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN HIM A RUN FOR HIS MONEY.

Mary: All the chiefs were standing there and I turned to them and said you get him in the car and get him the hell off my property.

MUSIC

JIM EVANS’ DEATH SHOOK UP THE DEPUTIES IN HIS DEPARTMENT

DEPUTY ANDREW DELGADO-MONTI WHO WAS IN THE FIREFIGHT OUTSIDE THE BANK REMEMBERS RETURNING TO THE STATION THAT DAY AND SEEING HIS CLOSE FRIEND.

Andrew:They took me to the station and as soon as we pulled up.​ ​We looked at each other and​ ​I thought he'd been shot. He thought I'd been killed. And we hugged each other.

     We hugged each other for a long time.
     And then he looked at me and said. Evans is dead. He was
     killed.

DEPUTY ROLF PARKES - WHO LED THE CHASE ON THE HIGHWAY - WAS ALSO EMOTIONAL

ROLF: That could have been me. Maybe it should have been me. You know, so I have a little survivor's remorse, that

     Jim was laying there on the ground. He had been the last
     one in the chase and became the first...

Andrew: Had we had assault rifles, would it have changed things. I'm guaranteed you I guarantee you as a former Marine and as a former law enforcer, that would have made a difference. Those suspects would have never left that corner.

     They would have never left that corner.

MUSIC

THESE EMOTIONS CRYSTALLIZED INTO CLEAR DEMANDS.

AFTER THE ROBBERY, OFFICERS ASKED FOR RADIOS THAT COULD COMMUNICATE BETWEEN DIFFERENT AGENCIES, COMBAT TRAINING, AND STRONGER FIREPOWER. GETTING NEW RADIOS WAS NOT CONTROVERSIAL BUT GETTING BIGGER GUNS? THAT WOULD START A FIGHT.

TO UNDERSTAND THE DRAMA THAT WOULD UNFOLD IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND SHERIFF BEN CLARK’S VISION FOR THE DEPARTMENT WHEN HE FIRST GOT THE JOB.

Cois: He advocated that law enforcement is everybody's business. And in nineteen sixties, he formed a community relations bureau basically before most others did.

IN THE 1960s, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY AND POLICE WAS FRACTURING. THE PUBLIC WATCHED ON TV AS POLICE CLASHED WITH ANTI-WAR AND CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTORS. LIKE AT THE 1968 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHICAGO.

Montage: Let them go!/Officers drove motorcycles into the crowd, breaking them up and dispersing the hippies/Hundreds of marchers and dozens of policeman were injured, restraint was absent on both sides. This was later called a police riot.

IN CALIFORNIA, BEN CLARK WAS CONCERNED WITH THIS IMAGE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT. HE ADVOCATED OFFICER TRAINING, STANDARDIZED

PROCEDURES, AND BALANCED BUDGETS. HE WANTED TO PROFESSIONALIZE THE POLICE IN THE EYES OF THE PUBLIC. IN 1969, HE DECIDED TO COMPLETELY REVAMP THEIR LOOK.

Cois: For instance, using a blazer to see how the public would react to that as opposed to a standard police uniform.

COIS BYRD MONITORED THE EXPERIMENT. AT ONE SHERIFF STATION, INSTEAD OF THE USUAL TAN UNIFORMS, DEPUTIES DONNED KELLY GREEN BLAZERS, WITH MATCHING GREEN TROUSERS AND A DARK GREEN TIE.

Cois:Ithink that our sheriff might have been a little bit color blind because it was just a little bit bright for me.

DEPUTIES WERE TOLD TO KEEP THEIR HANDCUFFS AND GUNS OUT OF SIGHT TUCKED INSIDE THEIR BLAZERS, AND THEIR NIGHTSTICKS IN THEIR PATROL CARS. INSTEAD OF A BADGE THEY WORE AN EMBROIDERED CREST FEATURING A LIBERTY BELL AND A SET OF SCALES. THEY SUDDENLY LOOKED LIKE BUREAUCRATS INSTEAD OF COPS.

Cois:It was an experiment to soften the image of police. Some people were saying, you know, you look like the military. You know, we don't want the military coming to our house to solve our problem.

BUT THE EXPERIMENT DIDN’T LAST.

Cois:The public didn't really care one way or another what the policeman looked like. I think that it was epitomized by an old guy that was under a cottonwood tree. And one of our researchers talked to. And he says, well, it really don't make no difference what the policeman's wearing. He says whether he's a country club cop or wearing a regular uniform, he says they're all going to arrest you.

MUSIC

THE IDEA THAT POLICE COULD USE SOMETHING AS INNOCUOUS AND SIMPLE AS A BLAZER, TO BUILD TRUST AND PEACE IN COMMUNITY, IT FEELS QUAINT BUT ALSO HOPEFUL.

BUT JUST OVER TEN YEARS LATER, THE BANK ROBBERY AT NORCO HAPPENED. AND FEELINGS IN THE DEPARTMENT SHIFTED IN A VERY DIFFERENT WAY.

MUSIC

AT THE TIME - THE STANDARD WEAPONS POLICE HAD ACCESS TO WERE A SHOTGUN AND A REVOLVER. THE REVOLVER ONLY HAD 6 ROUNDS, AND TOOK A LONG TIME TO RELOAD.

Cois:You have to push a lever and then reload them one at a time. So it's much slower.

SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ON THE OTHER HAND DON’T HAVE TO BE RELOADED AFTER EVERY ROUND, MAKING IT POSSIBLE TO FIRE MORE ROUNDS, MORE QUICKLY.

Cois:So here's an officer with 35 or 40 bullet capability within a matter of one minute.

IN THE 1960s, THE PUBLIC WAS INTRODUCED TO A STYLE OF SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPON WE ARE VERY FAMILIAR WITH TODAY.

Collage:​ ​The AR-15, the most popular rifle in America// bullets that tore through the Pulse nightclub in Orlando came from an AR-15 style weapon//cruz seen here loading an ar15 in stoneman douglas highschool as a frightened freshmen walks past // Lanza entered the building carrying a bushmaster ar-15 assault rifle //They’re designed to kill as many people as possible

MUSIC OUT

THE AR-15 WAS FIRST DEVELOPED IN THE 1950s FOR THE MILITARY, BY A COMPANY CALL ARMALITE. AR ACTUALLY STANDS FOR “ARMALITE RIFLE,” NOT “ASSAULT RIFLE.”

Fairchild promo: This is the armalite ar-10: the modern combat weapon that combines the accuracy of a sniper with the power of a machine gun.

IN 1963 COLT BOUGHT THEIR DESIGN. AND THEY USED IT TO BEGIN MANUFACTURING THE FULLY AUTOMATIC M16 RIFLE FOR SOLDIERS IN VIETNAM.

Training video: Remember that it is the finest weapon in existence, practice with your m16 so that whenever you are in a situation of danger you will live to fight again.

WHILE THE M16 WAS FULLY AUTOMATIC, COLT DECIDED TO MAKE A SEMIAUTOMATIC VERSION FOR CIVILIANS. THE AR-15.

THEY COULD BE BOUGHT AT ANY REGULAR SPORTING GOODS STORE. THE NORCO ROBBERS HAD 9 OF THESE CIVILIAN VERSIONS OF MILITARY GUNS.

SO THAT’S WHY THE OFFICERS, AFTER THE NORCO ROBBERY, WANTED TO CARRY WEAPONS AT LEAST AS POWERFUL AS WHAT WAS AVAILABLE ON THE STREET.

COIS BYRD,WHO WAS CHIEF DEPUTY SHERIFF UNDER BEN CLARK. AGREED THIS WAS THE WAY FORWARD.

ASC:What do you think could have happened that day that would have led to less violence.

Cois: Nothing that I can think of in terms of less violence.

     Yeah, I can think of one thing you could have put it down
     right to start with. If the officer showed up with a fully
     automatic weapon and they have three suspects coming out
     with semi-automatic weapons, then you to shoot them all, so
     it's just at that point, it's just force overcoming force.

BUT SHERIFF BEN CLARK DIDN’T GO FOR THE IDEA.

Antonia: So after Norco, Sheriff Clark's style seems to really come under a microscope, by the people in the department.

Cois: Oh, yeah. Well, there was anger. And in many deaths that I've seen over my career and life, there is frequently anger that's left after someone is killed, especially in the line of duty.

BEN CLARK SAW NORCO AS AN EXTREMELY RARE INCIDENT. HE WAS QUOTED IN THE NEWSPAPER SAYING THAT HE DID NOT BELIEVE MORE TRAINING OR HIGHER POWERED WEAPONS WOULD HAVE CHANGED ANYTHING ABOUT THAT DAY AND COIS SAYS CLARK FELT REVOLVERS WERE MORE RELIABLE, LESS LIKELY TO JAM.

COIS: He didn't feel it was necessary to change. He thought it was better to wait and basically see how things pan out.

HE WANTED TO TO TAKE HIS TIME, TO ASSESS THE CHANGES THEY MIGHT NEED INSTEAD OF JUST RESPONDING TO CRISIS. SO HE FORMED A COMMITTEE TO REVIEW WEAPONRY AND THE RADIOS.

AND HE EVEN SAID HE WOULD BE BEGIN DOING SURPRISE INSPECTIONS TO MAKE SURE OFFICERS WEREN’T SECRETLY CARRYING THEIR OWN PERSONAL HIGH POWERED WEAPONS.

MARY, JIM EVAN’S WIDOW, RECALLS HOW JITTERY THIS MADE DEPUTIES

Mary: A couple of deputies came up to my house that I knew and stuff. And the ones said to me, yeah, the sheriff tells us if he catches us with any high powered weapons, you know, we're getting fired. OK, and so he said, come out here, Mary, you open the trunk.

     And he had a high powered weapon in there and he said, You
     think I'm going to listen to him? He said absolutely not.
     He said, everyone I know is arming their car, and he said
     if he catches us with any type of weapons other than what's
     authorized, we're all getting fired. He said “but I'll tell
     you this, I'd rather find another job,” he says, “if I have
     to.” He says, “than to be carried by six men in a box.”

A MONTH AFTER THE BANK ROBBERY, THE FIGHT MADE ITS WAY INTO THE RIVERSIDE PRESS ENTERPRISE, THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER. THEY REPORTED THAT AT A MEETING OF THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S ASSOCIATION THE CROWD BOO-ED BEN CLARK.

IN RESPONSE TO THE OUTCRY CLARK SAID “NO ONE CAN SAY JIM EVANS WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THIS DEPARTMENT DID OR

DIDN’T DO. ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS TALKING THROUGH A CRYSTAL BALL AND JUST SECOND-GUESSING.”

AT THE SAME TIME, OTHER AGENCIES INVOLVED IN NORCO WEREMAKING CHANGES. THE RIVERSIDE PD BOUGHT A DOZEN HIGH POWERED RIFLES AND THE SAN BERNARDINO SHERIFF ASKED THE COUNTY FOR THREE DOZEN AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AND AN M60, A MACHINE GUN TO PUT ON THEIR HELICOPTER. IT CAN FIRE AT LEAST 500 ROUNDS A MINUTE.

ASC: Was there any fear that if you have police officers armed with such intense weaponry, that that could further create a schism with the community and the police officers?

Cois: Ididn't I didn't hear any. I heard no concern whatsoever during that time about arming the police. The general public was more concerned, I think, about their own public safety than they were anything else. It was necessary, it was mandatory. There was really no option. The numbers of weapons of semi-automatic and powerful weapons in society. I mean, there’s literally millions in the United States and the criminals can get them easily.

TWO WEEKS AFTER THE PRESS COVERAGE, SHERIFF BEN CLARK HAD A CHANGE OF HEART. BEFORE HIS COMMITTEE HAD EVEN FINISHED ITS REVIEW, HE MADE A PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT. THE SHERIFF SAID THEY WOULDBUY 40 HIGH POWERED RIFLES FOR SERGEANTS.

AND COIS SAYS THE SHERIFF ALSO ALLOWED DEPUTIES TO CARRY THEIR OWN GUNS.

Cois: The sheriff did approve a 223 rifles. They were semi automatic for personal carry in units, but there was no budget for it. So the deputies had to pay for them themselves and do the training and be certified.

AND THE SHERIFF HE BEGAN WHAT WOULD ESSENTIALLY BE A SWAT TEAM.

BUT TRUST IN BEN CLARK, HAD DROPPED. AND MANY OFFICERS STILL WANTED EVERYONE IN THE DEPT - NOT JUST SERGEANTS TO HAVE ASSAULT RIFLES.

ON SEPTEMBER 12TH, 1980 - THE POLICE UNION MET. AND 457 MEN TOOK A VOTE. IN THE END, THE MAJORITY VOTED THAT THEY HAD “NO CONFIDENCE” IN BEN CLARK.

SHERIFF CLARK WAS NOT MOVED. “THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF EMOTION BEING EXHIBITED IN OUR DEPARTMENT RIGHT NOW.”

BUT OFFICERS’ FEAR OF BEING OUTGUNNED WOULD PROVE MORE POWERFUL THAN BEN CLARK’S PRAGMATISM.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 3:

THERE’S ALWAYS BEEN A LINK BETWEEN THE MILITARY AND POLICE - LONG BEFORE DEPUTIES IN RIVERSIDE DEMANDED HIGH-POWERED WEAPONS IN 1980.

IN COLONIAL AMERICA, POLICING EVOLVED OUT OF SLAVE PATROLS FORMED IN THE EARLY 1700s. MEMBERS OFTEN CAME FROM THE MILITIA. LATER ON, IN THE MID-1800s, THE MILITARY WAS USED TO POLICE THE RECONSTRUCTION ERA SOUTH.

IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY, CITIES BEGAN ORGANIZING THEIR OWN POLICE FORCES. WHICH ADOPTING MILITARY-STYLE RANKS AND TRAINING.

Michael:And many of the uniforms were patterned after, after military uniforms.

THIS IS MICHAEL LEO OWENS, HE’S AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT EMORY UNIVERSITY, AND HE STUDIES THE CIVIC AND POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF POLICING.

HE SAYS THE 1960s WAS ONE MOMENT, WHEN THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE REALLY TOOK A STEP FORWARD.

Michael: We also know that during the early moments of large contentious politics – riots, protests and the like – particularly in the 1960s, we saw police interacting with National Guard in order to quell civil unrest.

IN 1965, LYNDON B JOHSON DECLARED A WAR ON CRIME.

JOHNSON:​ ​Every citizen has the right to feel secure in his home and on the streets of his community. I will soon assemble a panel of outstanding experts in this nation to search out answers to the national problem of crime and delinquency.

HE PASSED THE LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSISTANCE ACT. IT PROVIDED GRANTS TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BUY ITEMS LIKE RIFLES, RIOT GEAR, AND ARMORED VEHICLES.

AND THEN CAME THE WAR ON DRUGS.

NIXON: America’s public enemy #1 in the United States is drug abuse, in order to fight and defeat this enemy it is necessary to wage a new, all out offensive.

WHICH WOULD THROW FEDERAL MONEY AND MILITARY EQUIPMENT AT A DOMESTIC ISSUE. AND LEAN ON SWAT TEAMS - WHICH WERE INVENTED IN LOS ANGELES - TO ENFORCE DRUG LAWS.

Michael: SWAT doesn't just stay in Los Angeles. It diffuses. It spreads across the United States a little bit slow at the beginning, but then it really starts to take off.

MUSIC

THIS WAS THE ERA IN WHICH THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY HAPPENED.

AND YEARS AFTER THE ROBBERY IN 1986. DEPUTIES AT THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S OFFICE STILL WANTED TO CARRY MORE POWERFUL WEAPONS.

AND ULTIMATELY, IT WAS OFFICER DEMANDS THAT LED TO CHANGE WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT. THIS IS COIS BYRD AGAIN, WHO WORKED UNDER SHERIFF BEN CLARK OF RIVERSIDE.

Cois: The process is there's pressure to start with internally and starts at the bottom, I think, because those are the officers that respond to the crime that's in progress. And that's where the fear is.

WHEN BEN CLARK RETIRED IN 1986, COIS TOOK OVER. AND HE WOULD MAKE THE OFFICIAL CHANGE FROM THE SIX-SHOOTER REVOLVERS AND THE SHOTGUNS EACH DEPUTY HAD, TO SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOLS.

Ben: And that was a pretty big deal among the troops and so forth.

AND THEN, IN 1997 - NOT VERY FAR FROM NORCO, ANOTHER ROBBERY SHOOK THE COUNTRY - THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD BANK ROBBERY.

This is the gunman after he came out of the bank this is the first of two gunmen who shot it out with the police//their firepower seemed endless. minute after minute went by. Scores of rounds fired//what’s going on here? He’s firing into the//many officers expended all the ammunition that they had

NEARLY 2000 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION WERE FIRED DURING THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD BANK ROBBERY, AND IT WAS ALL ON TV

Michael: This idea that bank robbers dressed for war. In North Hollywood and to literally see it and to see the shoot out.

THIS IS PROFESSOR MICHAEL LEO OWENS AGAIN.

Michael: Where the police are ducking behind vehicles and they're peering around, which, of course, is defensive, but also, again, could be interpreted as somewhat embarrassing that they're put in this situation.

JUST LIKE AFTER NORCO, OFFICERS BEGAN CLAMORING FOR HEAVY DUTY WEAPONRY. AND NOW, THEY COULD GET IT. LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT BEGAN GETTING MILITARY SURPLUS ITEMS THROUGH A FEDERAL PROGRAM STARTED THAT SAME YEAR. ITEMS LIKE GRENADE LAUNCHERS, HELICOPTERS, ASSAULT RIFLES, AND BAYONETS. EQUIPMENT ORIGINALLY VALUED AT OVER 7 BILLION DOLLARS.

FORTY YEARS AFTER THE BANK ROBBERY, THE NATIONAL STANDARD POLICE OFFICER WEAPONRY WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. A STUDY SHOWED THAT THAT OVER 95% OF AMERICAN POLICE AGENCIES NOW ALLOW STREET-LEVEL OFFICERS TO CARRY HIGH-POWERED RIFLES.

Asc: Do you know if there are statistics on how the introduction of assault weapons impacted the crime rate, whether the crime rate went down?

Cois:No, I don't think that the crime rate went down. I think it was continuing to go up and has been ever since.

STUDIES SHOW THAT ARMING POLICE WITH MILITARY EQUIPMENT DOES NOT REDUCE CRIME OR ENHANCE PUBLIC SAFETY. AND THAT IT ACTUALLY INCREASES THE USE OF LETHAL FORCE.

INTENSE EVENTS LIKE THE NORCO ROBBERY AND SHOOT-OUT, THEY’RE STATISTICALLY RARE. BUT FOR PROFESSOR MICHAEL LEO OWENS, THESE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT STAY IN THE MINDS OF OFFICERS

Michael:You know, Norco's interesting because one lesson could have been, oh, we got to really arm up. But another lesson could be, “no, you just need to be better trained in dealing with these sorts of situations.” because at the end of the day, I forget what number of of the robbers were were killed by the police...the others did what? they gave up. This is the pattern, right? So we see some moment in time where the police find themselves overwhelmed by the force of those they're there to try to apprehend.

     I would say in the case of NorCal, one of the sad points,
     of course, was that a police officer was killed. So that's
     super problematic from the perspective of the police,
     because right there, it sends the message to police
     officers and as well as those who support police officers
     that the world is a deadly place.

MUSIC

OFFICERS REACTED TO THE VIOLENCE OF NORCO BY PUSHING TO BE ARMED. NOT AS A PROVEN METHOD TO REDUCE CRIME - BUT AS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THEIR SAFETY. AND THAT FEAR FOR THEIR SAFETY - IT LINGERED FOR MANY OFFICERS.

LIKE FOR DJ McCARTY - THE OFFICER WHO SAW JIM EVANS DIE

Asc: Where was your head? Right after.
DJ:I called work after the third day. I can't stay here, I

     got the press all over my house. I'm going to come home.

WHEN DJ SAYS HOME - HE MEANS THE STATION

DJ: So they put me on the desk. Which is miserable for a patrolmen. Right after the shooting, I had a problem with alcohol for about a year and. You just need something other than trying to do that macho thing of handling yourself.

DJ WAS HAUNTED BYJIM EVAN’S DEATH. ALONG WITH OTHER OFFICERS HE WAS AWARDED A MEDAL FOR HIS ACTIONS IN THE ROBBERY.

DJ: For a long, long time, I could not wear the Medal of Valor on my on my chest because it made me feel like I didn't save him. I didn't do enough to help the man that saved my life. I shouldn't be wearing this. And it took a long time for me to wear them.

MUSIC

TWO WEEKS AFTER NORCO, THERE WAS A GROUP THERAPY SESSION WITH A PSYCHOLOGIST FOR ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT INVOLVED IN THE BANK ROBBERY. OFFICERS COULD GO AROUND AND SHARE THEIR FEELINGS AND EXPERIENCES.

BUT AFTER THAT - THERE WAS LITTLE FOLLOW-UP. THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S OFFICE DID NOT HAVE ANY KIND OF COUNSELING PROGRAM.

THERE WAS A NEW COUNSELING PROGRAM AT THE SAN BERNARDINO SHERIFF’S OFFICE - WHERE DJ WORKED. BUT AT THE TIME, MANY OFFICERS FELT THERE WOULD BE CONSEQUENCES IF THEY MET WITH THE COUNSELOR VOLUNTARILY. DJ REMEMBERS THE THOUGHTS THAT WOULD RUN THROUGH HIS MIND, IMAGINING, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF HE SOUGHT HELP.

DJ: I'm done. My career is gone. Nobody is going to work with me.

ASC: Why? That's so like. And that's because that was the feeling at the time that, like, people who went to therapy were like damaged goods or something.

DJ:You were weak. You couldn't handle the job.
AFTER SOME TIME - DJ WAS EVENTUALLY SENT TO SEE A THERAPIST, AND HE

BEGAN WORKING WITH HER.

DJ: It takes a while to get past...a while to get past the nightmares. Hell I didn't get married to it's like 50 some odd years old.

ASC:Because you...
DJ:PTSD, I would imagine. My job was more important than

     anything else.

MUSIC

BUT DJ’S LOVE OF HIS JOB WOULD BE CHALLENGED.

A LITTLE MORE THAN A YEAR AFTER THE ROBBERY, THE LENGTHY, AND HIGH-PROFILE TRIAL FOR THE THREE SURVIVING ROBBERS WOULD FINALLY BEGIN.

AND IN COURT - DJ WOULD BE QUESTIONED ABOUT THE CHAOS OF THAT DAY, AND HIS ABILITY TO HANDLE THE ASSAULT RIFLE HE WIELDED IN THE FINAL STAND-OFF.

DJ: Let's put it this way. I would rather go through this shooting again then have to put up what I had to put up with in court, and what they called me what I was reading in my newspaper when I got home that I killed Evans.

NEXT TIME ON NORCO 80:

Debbie: At the time, it was good versus evil. And that's how it felt in there, you know.

ASC:And who was good?

Debbie:Well, it was supposed to be the DA, it was supposed to be good, but for me it was just the opposite. We just did not want them to get the death penalty.

END

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre. The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardif.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow and Julia Caruso.

Original music by Zach Robinson.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Special Thanks to Tim Lopez, Tom Thakkar, Curt Rothschiller and Peter Kraska.

Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

EPISODE 4Chapter 4: The Final Chase
The robbers lead police on a winding chase that ends in a devastating standoff at the top of a mountain. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

Chapter 4: The Final Chase
A quick warning: Some of the series includes descriptions of graphic violence.
LAST WEEK ON NORCO 80:

Rosie:When we were young, he told me that he had to do something. And that was to kill somebody. He wanted to know what it felt like.

Lani:They were digging a tunnel for the purpose of if a bomb hits or something...Yeah! They would talk about stuff like that! They would talk about how it’s coming to an end.

Part 1

DEPUTY ROLF PARKES WAS JUST OVER TEN MILES AWAY FROM NORCO ON MAY 9TH 1980, WHEN HE HEARD A RADIO BROADCAST ABOUT ARMED ROBBERS LEAVING A NORCO BANK SHOOTOUT.

Rolf: Yeah I had just made a car stop on somebody and I was about to issue a ticket. And I hear this stuff going on and you get that chill. I mean, it’s that that chill, it runs down your arms.

ROLF RACED TO BACKUP HIS FELLOW OFFICERS, HE WAS ONE OF AT LEAST A DOZEN COPS ON THE RADIO CHANNEL.

Radio Traffic:Quit yelling! Calm down! Where they going?

Rolf:So I'm trying to listen without saying anything on the air and you hear a lot of other people talking, I'm en route. I'm out. I'm over here. I’m over there.

Radio Traffic:Riverside I believe I counted at least five suspects I believe three got away in the yellow truck.

[MUSIC]

SOON IT BECAME CLEAR THAT THE ROBBERS WERE HEADED NORTHEAST, INTO A MAZE OF SUBURBS, AS THEY TRIED TO FLEE.

Rolf: There was no freeway that ran through Norco. So to be in, like, the center of town and having to get out wasn't really a good plan on their part to escape.

THERE WOULD BE NO EASY EXIT FOR THE ROBBERS. THERE WAS A COP WAITING AROUND ALMOST EVERY CORNER.

Radio Traffic: I’ve been hit in the leg
Shooting from the back of the truck. I’m headed for the hospital!

ROLF HEARD MEN YELLING ABOUT BEING HIT IN THE LEG AND HEADING TO THE HOSPITAL.

DEPUTY AFTER DEPUTY JUST MINUTES APART WERE REPORTING THAT THE ROBBERS WERE NOT JUST SPEEDING AWAY. THEY WERE ALSO SPRAYING BULLETS, WILDLY, FROM THE BACK OF THE PICK-UP AT ANYONE WHO APPROACHED.

Radio Traffic:The vehicle is headed on Schleismen towards Etiwanda. I’m being hit by fire.

ROLF KEPT WINDING CLOSER AND CLOSER, FOLLOWING THE RADIO TRAFFIC, UNTIL, HE DIDN’T NEED TO ANYMORE. THE ROBBERS WERE HEADED RIGHT TOWARDS HIM

ROLF:I can hear the gunfire. And I know there's no one else between me and them at the time.

Rolf: I'm on a semi country road. I've got a horse corral on my right. And the suspects are coming down the road. I first see this thing, it wasn't exactly yellow, it's kind of like orange. I can see that it's crossing lanes coming into my lane of traffic. And I knew this wasn't good.

ROLF SAW THE ROBBERS, TWO OF THEM STANDING IN THE BED OF THE TRUCK, ONE OF THEM LEANING OUTSIDE THE PASSENGER WINDOW. THEY RAISED THEIR GUNS, LEVELING THEM AT HIM. THE TRUCK, MOVING SURPRISINGLY SLOWLY, ROLLED TOWARD HIM.

ROLF ROLLED UP HIS SIDE WINDOW AS A LAST FUTILE MOVE.

Rolf: As the vehicle comes, I mean, like, my car is just getting chewed. You can hear the metal, the boom, boom, boom, you know, hitting, hitting the side of the car. You can hear the sound of a snapping, hitting, hitting the ground around you. You know, I'm sitting there and there's glass flying all over the all over the cab. The shards of glass had, had flaked into, really a dust and it’s landing all over my face. And there's a certain phenomena that just seem kind of strange because I'm sitting here, it looks like it's snowing inside my car, you know.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

CHAPTER 4: THE FINAL CHASE

George: What we're tryin' to do is hit the engines on the police vehicles to stop 'em.
Detective: Uh huh.
George: To stop police vehicle. I wasn't tryin' to kill people.

THEME OUT

AFTER THEY LEFT THE BANK, THE ROBBERS’ ESCAPE PLAN WAS TO REACH THEIR GETAWAY CARS. THEY HAD SET THEM UP BEFORE THE ROBBERY IN A PARKING LOT OF A LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD ABOUT A MILE AWAY.

GEORGE WOULD LATER TELL THE DETECTIVE ABOUT THEIR EXIT.

AND JUST A REMINDER — THESE ARE THE ACTUAL RECORDINGS THAT POLICE MADE QUESTIONING THE ROBBERS RIGHT AFTER THE ROBBERY.

Detective:You got in a truck all of yo? Who got in the cab of the truck?
George: Chris drove.
Detective: Chris drove?

George:And the three of us uh Manny, Russ and myself defended the - the vehicle.

CHRIS HARVEN DROVE THE YELLOW TRUCK, WITH MANNY IN THE PASSENGER SEAT, AND RUSS AND GEORGE STANDING IN THE BED. THE HOPE WAS THAT IF THEY COULD DITCH THE STOLEN TRUCK FOR THEIR OWN CARS - THEY COULD LOSE THE COPS.

BUT AS THEY APPROACHED THE LOT - THE MONEY LONG GONE - THEY COULD SEE POLICE CARS IN THEIR PERIPHERY AND REALIZED THEY HAD TO CHANGE COURSE.

AND SO - AS THEY DROVE THROUGH THE SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOODS OF NORCO - THEY TRIED TO COME UP WITH A NEW PLAN.

Detective:What were you thinking about while all this was going on?

A DETECTIVE WOULD LATER ASK - WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH CHRIS’S MIND?

Chris:While this was going on? Getting away, getting away. Wishing I hadn’t done the job.

CHRIS RESPONDED ‘GETTING AWAY. WISHING I HADN’T DONE THE JOB.’ BUT AT THAT POINT, WHILE THEY WERE DESPERATELY TRYING TO ESCAPE, THEY HAD NO PLANS TO SURRENDER

Chris: George’s motto is- I’m not going to be taken prisoner, right.

CHRIS SAID GEORGE’S MOTTO WAS THAT HE WASN’T GOING TO BE TAKEN PRISONER.

MUSIC

A FEW SECONDS AFTER THE GLASS AND THE DUST FELL AROUND DEPUTY ROLF PARKES, THE ROBBERS WERE GONE. THEY HAD PASSED HIM.

Rolf: I’m checking my head you know to see whether I was bleeding or how bad I was. I could see that I had some blood.

A BULLET GRAZED HIS HEAD. AND HE HAD BEEN SPRAYED WITH BROKEN GLASS BUT SOMEHOW ROLF DIDN’T HAVE ANY MAJOR DAMAGE. AND AS HE ASSESSED HIMSELF, HE DIDN’T HESITATE IN HIS NEXT MOVE.

Rolf: That fear kind of changed to anger. I was pissed, can I say that you know? I was pissed. And so I make the u-turn.

HE PUT HIS WRECK OF A CAR INTO DRIVE AND SPED AFTER THE YELLOW TRUCK.

Rolf: As soon as I got around the corner there they are just blasting away at me just boom. They are just hitting the crap out of me and I’m not even near them now. They’re fifty to a hundred yards down the road. So I get on the air and I say I’m following the suspects and they are armed with rifles and they’re using them. And these guys are just pounding me, they’re still pounding me and they’re just shooting shooting shooting.

ROLFE TRIED TO WARN ANY OFFICERS AHEAD OF HIM OF THE FIREPOWER HE HAD JUST WITNESSED. BUT COMMUNICATION WAS JUMBLED ON THE RADIO.

[RADIO TRAFFIC]

THE ROBBERS WERE FIRING NON-STOP AS THE YELLOW PICKUP TRUCK BLASTED THROUGH A FOUR-WAY INTERSECTION PACKED WITH POLICE CARS.

ROLF: All of a sudden, you know, Herman comes along their side. You could just see as his car just explodes.

Radio Traffic: McDaniels: I’ve been hit. ROLFE:And the glass, flying everywhere. Radio Traffic:​ ​You alright?

Rolf: Dave Madden on the east side they shoot at him. Etiwanda and limonite still firing

     And Wayne McDaniels is on the West side.
     They shoot him through through the windshield and hit him
     in the shoulder.

Radio Traffic: Mad Dog: Deputy Down Etiwanda and 63rd. 11:55 Parkes: They have automatic weapons

Rolf:And so everybody's kind of stalled except for me. IN A MATTER OF SECONDS, TWO OFFICERS AND A CIVILIAN WERE SHOT AS

THE ROBBERS CONTINUED THROUGH THE SUBURBS.

IT WAS A FRIDAY AFTERNOON, THE STREETS WERE FULL OF KIDS WALKING HOME FROM SCHOOL. AS THE TRUCK BARRELLED THROUGH, RESIDENTS AND CHILDREN HID BEHIND PARKED CARS OR RAN TO SAFETY.

Radio Traffic: They’re northbound go go go. Northbound go. AS ROLF TRIED TO FOLLOW, ONCE AGAIN - THE ROBBERS SHOWERED HIM

WITH BULLETS.
THIS TIME, HIS CAR DIED.

Radio Traffic:You got a flat tire Rolf. Music out

BUT SOON ANOTHER DEPUTY PULLED OVER. ROLF GRABBED HIS GUN AND JUMPED IN WITH HIM.

Radio Traffic:Come on.

AT THIS POINT IN THE CHASE, IT WAS ALL HANDS ON DECK. OFFICERS WERE COMING IN TO HELP FROM ALL OVER. THERE WERE PATROL CARS FROM THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S OFFICE, BUT ALSO FROM THE RIVERSIdE POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND FROM THE CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL.

Radio Traffic: Eastside units at Belgrave and Van Buren.

AS THE ROBBERS IN THE YELLOW TRUCK CONTINUED THEIR SPREE, SHOOTING AND DISABLING ANY POLICE CAR THEY SAW. ONE BULLET VEERED TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND CLIPPED THE FINGER OF A KID WHO WAS RIDING A BIKE IN THE DIRT..

Radio Traffic: Patrol was that another officer shot? I am transporting an officer reynard who’s taken a round in the arm to the hospital.

AMBULANCES WERE ON THEIR WAY - AT THIS POINT, A TOTAL OF 7 DEPUTIES WERE WOUNDED.

BUT ROLF AND THE OTHER DEPUTY KEPT ON THE CHASE. THEY’D LOST SIGHT OF THE YELLOW TRUCK.

A POLICE HELICOPTER WAS NOW CIRCLING ABOVE.

Rolf:And starts giving directions. But he doesn't know the area. He just said they're going. They're going left. They're going right they’re going North. So what does that mean? You know, it's like, how does that help you? You know, it doesn't help me if you don't give a name of a street or anything like that. Which way is left? Which way?

     Going in circles trying to figure out where they are, you
     know, cause it was just a fog of battle. It was crazy. I
     mean, the people must have thought we were nuts. We did at
     least two circles

Radio Traffic: The vehicle has just turned Northbound. I believe it’s on Etiwanda at this time, headed Northbound.

FINALLY ROLF STUCK HIS HEAD OUT THE WINDOW AND SPOTTED THE HELICOPTER. FOLLOWING IT - HE HEADED NORTH - TOWARDS THE FREEWAY,

AT THIS POINT, ROLF FIGURED THE ROBBERS HAD A DECISION TO MAKE. THEY COULD TAKE THE FREEWAY BACK TOWARDS RIVERSIDE, WHERE MANY COPS AWAITED THEM. OR THEY COULD HEAD INTO LA

Rolf: Iwas hoping that they were going to go into Los Angeles where the sheriff's were, because I knew that they had a SWAT team. Those were new items at the time.

THE LAPD HAD CREATED THE FIRST SWAT TEAM IN THE COUNTRY, AROUND A DECADE EARLIER. THE GROUP OF SPECIALLY-TRAINED MEN, MANY WITH MILITARY EXPERIENCE, WAS ESTABLISHED AFTER THE WATTS RIOTS. A SERIES OF VIOLENT CONFRONTATIONS BETWEEN POLICE OFFICERS AND LOCAL BLACK RESIDENTS.

THE ROBBERS SURPRISED ROLF WHEN HE REALIZED THEY WEREN’T HEADED WEST TOWARDS LA OR EAST TO RIVERSIDE. AS THE ROBBERS MERGED ONTO INTERSTATE 15, HE SAW THEY WERE HEADED NORTH.

ROLF GOT ON THE RAMP ABOUT A HALF-MILE BEHIND THE YELLOW TRUCK.

Rolf: As soon as we get on the 15, they start shooting at us again, they're hitting the vehicle.

ROLF AND THE OFFICER HE WAS RIDING WITH FRED CHISHOLM WHO WAS DRIVING, NEEDED TO BE CAREFUL. THE WEAPONS THE ROBBERS HAD WERE SO POWERFUL, THAT THEY COULDN’T GET TOO CLOSE.

Rolf:And I told Fred, you know, get behind this 18 wheeler. Maybe they won't shoot at a civilian vehicle.

     Well, they shot at the civilian vehicle and the 18 wheeler
     pulls to the right.
     It's like the curtain opened and there comes the gunshots
     you know, there’s just no relief.

SOME OFFICERS WOULD RECALL BEING ON THE FREEWAY AND HEARING THE SHOTS FALL AROUND THEIR VEHICLES, FROM ALMOST A MILE AWAY.

Radio Traffic: Keep your lights off ahead of 13, that’s the target, be advised. They were firing. I wouldn’t get too close. High powered rifle.

MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT JOINED THE CHASE ON THE FREEWAY - OFFICERS FROM ONTARIO, FONTANA, PERRIS. BUT NOBODY COULD GET TOO CLOSE TO THE YELLOW TRUCK WITHOUT HAVING TO DODGE BULLETS.

Radio Traffic: Keep your lights off, They’ve been firing from a half mile around hitting units. Copy that, we’ll run our lights until we see you then cut them.

Rolf:And it was somewhere around this time that my dispatch asks, can you confirm if a helicopter is being shot out of the sky? I go what? Are you kidding me?

GEORGE WOULD TELL POLICE THAT THEY FELT MAYBE THEY COULD GET AWAY, IF THEY COULD JUST STOP THE HELICOPTER FROM TRACKING THEM

Detective:Where was the helicopter all this time? George:Uh it was uh just watching us.

Detective:Okay. Is this about the same time you guys started shootin' at the helicopter?

George:Yeah. I just figured if we could stop the helicopter, get him away from us, we could get away. Cause we figured that was what was keepin' everybody else hangin' on us. And then we pot-shotted at - the roster, and uh the fuselage. The tail.

     Music cue starts here

THE HELICOPTER, WHICH WAS HOVERING 800 FT OVER THE SUSPECTS, ABRUPTLY VEERED OFF. THE SUSPECTS, POINTING THEIR GUNS SKYWARD, HAD MANAGED TO FRACTURE THE PLEXIGLASS OF THE CHOPPER, AND THE TITANIUM FLOOR. IT WOULD BE FORCED TO LAND.

Rolf:Somebody in the back said, we got to notify Ontario that divert aircraft because, you know, there if they've shot a helicopter, you know, and we're coming into the glide path, they could shoot airliners as well.

THE POLICE WERE WORRIED THAT THE ROBBERS COULD SHOOT PLANES TAKING OFF FROM THE NEARBY ONTARIO AIRPORT. SO THEY SHUT IT DOWN.

IT SEEMED LIKE NO ONE COULD TOUCH THE ROBBERS. THEY HAD DRIVEN OFF A HELICOPTER AND WERE HOLDING OFF DOZENS OF CARS IN PURSUIT.

Rolf:The kinks can’t get any worse can they? Radio Traffic: They got explosives?
Rolf:Oh yes they can.

Radio traffic

ROLF SAW A POP IN THE AIR - AS THE ROBBERS STARTED THROWING BOMBS OUT ON THE ROAD BEHIND THEM. GEORGE WOULD TELL POLICE, HE HAD CARRIED THEM IN HIS POCKET.

George: I had two in my pocket and those are the two I tried to slow down traffic with.
Detective:You only threw two?
George:I threw two.

Rolf:And I realize, you know, at this point there, I've mean, probably the biggest law enforcement chase there ever was. And I'm with the unit in front chasing these guys.

BUT THEN - ROLF’S RIDE GAVE OUT, FOR THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY.

Rolf:Our car has been hit so many times by the rifle fire that our engines started to steam. And you could see that, you know, steam rising up off off of the hood of the car. And the car was starting to buck. And it became obvious that we weren’t going to be able to lead the chase any further.

ROLF SAW THE SUSPECTS TAKE AN OFF RAMP. AND THAT’S WHEN HE REALIZED THEY WERE HEADED INTO THE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS. TOWARDS LYTLE CREEK CANYON. ROLF KNEW THEN - IT WOULD TAKE SOMETHING VERY POWERFUL TO STOP THEM.

Rolf: It's like we're the police. We don't have rifles. We have shotguns and handguns.

Rolf: We were calling for anything that had a weapon, a rifle or something to, like, intercede.

BEAT

IT TURNS OUT A YOUNG OFFICER, WOULD ANSWER THAT CALL. WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 2

AT THE TIME OF THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY, OFFICERS WEREN’T USUALLY ARMED BEYOND A HANDGUN AND A SHOTGUN. BUT THAT DA, BY A FLUKE, A NEARBY SHERIFF’S OFFICE DIDHAVE AN AUTOMATIC WEAPON. IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, THEY HAD AN M16 IN THEIR EVIDENCE LOCKER.

DJ:We basically just kind of kept it, the department didn’t know we had it. We recovered it after a pursuit and the crooks threw it out the window. It got pretty narfed up. So we called the military and said, hey, we've got your weapon. Do you want it back? It's in pretty bad shape. And they said, no, you keep it.

DEPUTY SHERIFF DANIEL MCCARTY, WHO GOES BY DJ, WAS BACK AT THE SAN BERNARDINO STATION WHEN HE HEARD ABOUT THE BANK ROBBERY AND ONGOING PURSUIT.

DJ:In those days, that was a very, very big deal to have an AR. I mean, we didn't have weapons like that, military weapons.

Music
A FELLOW OFFICER RADIOED INTO THE SAN BERNARDINO STATION

DJ:I'm coming to the office, get the AR out, which means the automatic weapon that we had.

DJ FETCHED IT AND WENT OUTSIDE - READY FOR HIS FELLOW OFFICER WHO SLID INTO THE PARKING LOT IN HIS PATROL CAR.

DJ:An he had reached over and unlatched the passenger door. And while he was still moving, the door flew open and I jumped to the car. I'm twenty three years old, brainless on what really happens in a shootout.

THE ONLY OFFICER IN THE CHASE ARMED WITH AN AUTOMATIC WEAPON WAS NOW MAKING HIS WAY TOWARDS THE SUSPECTS.

Music
DJ, WAS IN HIS EARLY 20S WHEN HE DECIDED TO JOIN THE FORCE.

ASC: And when did you decide that you wanted to join the police?

DJ:‘77 I started getting serious about doing it because I figured, you know, sooner or later I'm going to end up on one side of the bars. So I kind of like the other side.

ASC:Let's unpack that a little. Why did you think that you-

DJ: Because don't get me wrong. I had great parents. I was raised well, but I was a helian. The guys that I ran with, we had a gang. There was several fights between other gang members. And just growing up in general, while San Bernardino was growing up and unfortunately, turning to crime was starting to go downhill.

DJ ENDED UP BECOMING A DEPUTY SHERIFF FOR SAN BERNARDINO - THE COUNTY DIRECTLY NORTH OF RIVERSIDE. IT IS SURROUNDED BY DESERT MOUNTAINS - HOLLYWOOD USED IT AS A BACKDROP FOR 60’S WESTERN. IT’S A PLACE WHERE DJ FIT RIGHT IN

ASC: What did you look like during that time? DJ: Glen Campbell.

ASC:OK, for those unfamiliar with Glen Campbell, describe him.

DJ: Well, Glen Campbell was a country western singer. Rhinestone cowboy

DJ: Had that boyish look with the regular haircut parted on the side, I look like a little kid. A big little kid.

BUT BACK THEN DJ THOUGHT HE WAS A REAL TOUGH GUY.

DJ: Ithought I looked like Dirty Harry, are you kidding? I was 23 years old and happy and having a great time.

DJ WAS ASSIGNED TO WORK IN FONTANA, A TOUGH CITY THAT WAS BUILT AROUND A STEEL MILL. WORKING THAT BEAT BROUGHT DJ THE SAME SENSE OF EXCITEMENT FROM HIS HELLION DAYS

DJ: Fontana never sleeps. It's a steel town. It's 24 hours trucking industry, 24 hours prostitution, drug sales, 24 hours. It never stopped.

BUT WORKING AS A POLICE OFFICER ALSO GAVE HIM A SENSE OF STABILITY

DJ: When I got hired, they said okay we’re going to pay you. I think it was six hundred dollars every two weeks. And I went, you're going to pay me six hundred dollars every two weeks. Yes. And I got to go start in the jail. Yeah. And you're going to feed me in the jail. Yeah. Antonia, I was in heaven.

Music
DJ HAD TO BE DRAGGED AWAY FROM POLICE WORK

DJ: There was times when there was several of us that were young and energetic, and they would literally the sergeant would literally have to tell us the 12 o'clock on your shift was over at one o'clock, bring the cars back. Graveyard's waiting to go to work.

DJ HAD BEEN RELUCTANTLY FINISHING UP A DAY TIME SHIFT AND CHANGING INTO HIS STREET CLOTHES AROUND 4PM WHEN HE HEARD THE RADIO TRAFFIC AND THEN JUMPED INTO HIS FELLOW OFFICER’S CAR.

Radio Traffic: 321 advise how many units you request from PD...[unintelligible] We need the highway blocked [request about 5 units]

THE FOUR SUSPECTS WERE ON THE HIGHWAY HEADED NORTHBOUND.
DJ HAD THE RIFLE BETWEEN HIS KNEES AS HE JOINED THE CHASE AT 80 MPH

DJ:I had it between my legs on the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and I'm looking at it, trying to figure out how to work it.

DJ HAD NEVER TRAINED WITH HIGH POWERED RIFLES LIKE THIS. BUT GEORGE AND CHRIS SHOT WITH THEM FREQUENTLY. THEY WOULD TARGET PRACTICE IN A FORESTED CANYON CALLED LYTLE CREEK. WHICH IS WHERE THEY WERE LEADING THE POLICE THAT VERY MOMENT.

A DETECTIVE WOULD LATER ASK CHRIS HARVEN ABOUT WHY THEY DECIDED TO LEAD THE CHASE TO LYTLE CREEK CANYON

Chris: We thought over the dirt roads we could elude the police vehicles because they catch a lot of dust.

HE SAID THAT ON THE DIRT ROADS UP THE MOUNTAIN, THEY COULD ELUDE THE POLICE VEHICLES BECAUSE THEY’D BE CATCHING A LOT OF DUST

Chris:And we get up there, dump the vehicle and split up and try to make it as we could.

THAT THEY WANTED TO GET THERE, DUMP VEHICLE AND SPLIT UP TO MAKE IT AS THEY COULD.

Radio:If they follow the creek they’re going to go into a dead end.

THE ROBBERS WERE ALREADY AT LYTLE CREEK WHEN DJ REACHED THE HIGHWAY. HE GOT ON THE RADIO TRAFFIC.

DJ: We're trying to tell everybody and through dispatch to pull over that we had an AR and to let us get up to the front. We had a problem because you've got CHP, Riverside County Sheriff, San Bernadino county sheriff. And in those days, we weren't all on the same frequency.

AT THE TIME THERE WAS A RADIO SYSTEM THAT LET DIFFERENT AGENCIES COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER BUT IT WAS ONLY INSTALLED IN A HANDFUL OF CARS. AND SO COMMUNICATING WAS LIKE A GAME OF TELEPHONE.

Radio: Can anyone on this frequency see the vehicle?
NEWS THAT A DEPUTY SHERIFF HAD AN AR SLOWLY PERCOLATED THROUGH THE

COP CAR PARADE HURTLING UP TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS.

Radio Traffic:San Bernardino is trying to make their way up to the front. They have an automatic weapon...

DJ:He gets the message through and guys are starting to pull over and we were heading up to the front of the pack.

DJ AND THE M16 WERE GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER TO THE ROBBERS.

DJ:We got into Lytle Creek, which goes down into a very windy two lane mountain road, and you drive up to the end of the little creek and it turns into dirt and the dirt ending there is a free

     for all shooting area for anybody that's got a gun that wants to
     go and shoot it.

LYTLE CREEK CANYON IS IN THE MIDST OF THE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS. A WILDERNESS AREA DOTTED WITH CLUSTERS OF PONDEROSA PINES AND TALL YUCCA PLANTS.

DJ:I don't know how any other way to explain this to you, that it's central casting for the Hills Have Eyes. It's just it's bad.

LYTLE CREEK CANYON WAS A GO TO SPOT FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. THERE WAS A FORMAL GUN RANGE BUT MANY VISITORS WOULD IGNORE IT IN FAVOR OF PULLING UP ANYWHERE ON THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN TO BLAST THEIR LEGAL OR ILLEGAL WEAPON. STRAY BULLETS WERE KNOWN TO HIT CARS, HOMES OR EVEN TENTS SET UP BY UNASSUMING CAMPERS. THERE WERE HORRIBLE ACCIDENTS - PEOPLE DIED. IN THE LATE 1960S LYTLE CREEK BECAME A FAVORITE OF DRUG TRAFFICKERS WHO WOULD MOVE IN PERMANENTLY AND EITHER GROW MARIJUANA ON THE SIDE OF THE CANYON ITSELF OR COOK CRYSTAL METH IN BATHTUBS.

DJ:It’s an interesting little community up there.
BUT DJ HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE HE SAW IN LYTLE CREEK, AS HE DROVE ON

THE WINDING DIRT PATH.

DJ:I mean we're passing cars that were shot up.
DESPERATE FOR STRONGER GUNS, OFFICERS WERE SEIZING THE SIDEARMS OF

CIVILIAN BYSTANDERS WHO HAD GONE TO LYTLE CREEK TO PRACTICE SHOOTING.

DJ:Wecommandeeredalimitededition22ithasmoreofalong range. I remember the deputies in front of me were actually pulling rifles away from citizens to take their guns because we didn't have anything that was good, they were taking their weapons so that we could fight with them.

AMID THE CHAOS - ABANDONED CARS, MULTIPLE FREQUENCIES, DIFFERENT AGENCIES - DJ AND HIS PARTNER WERE FOCUSED ON GETTING THE ONE AUTOMATIC WEAPON TO THE FRONT OF THE CHASE IN HOPES OF FINALLY STOPPING THE SUSPECTS.

AND AT ONE POINT HE THOUGHT THEY MADE IT.

DJ:And then all of a sudden this Riverside unit just cuts us off and goes in front of us, didn't know it at the time, but that was Jim Evans.

DEPUTY SHERIFF JAMES EVANS KNOWN AS JIM - WOULD SOON FACE OFF WITH THE ROBBERS AT THE TOP OF THE DESERT MOUNTAIN.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 3 - LYTLE CREEK

WE’RE BACK.

IN 1975, FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE EVENTS OF THIS BANK ROBBERY, A YOUNG WOMAN NAMED MARY SWEENEY WAS GOING HORSEBACK RIDING WITH A FRIEND IN WOODCREST, CALIFORNIA. A TOWN HALF AN HOUR EAST OF NORCO.

Mary:I was into horses when I was young. I loved animals. I still do.

AFTER A COUPLE OF HOURS, THEY BROUGHT THEIR HORSES BACK TO THE STABLE. AT THE TIME, MARY WAS IN AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE WITH A MAN WHO DRANK.

Mary:I didn't go directly home. I went to the friend's house that I was riding with. And we came off the ride and my husband was under the influence, OK, and came up there and started knocking me around because I didn't come right home. And so, you know, my girlfriend and her kids were screaming and yelling when they saw that. Well, and the bottom line went down to the hospital because he was choking me pretty badly, couldn't breathe.

ASC:Oh my god.

Mary:And so the doctor there said, has this happened before? I said, yeah, but nobody ever does anything. He said, well, you call the sheriff's department because you're out in the county. So we call the sheriff's department. And Jim Evans answered the call. That's how I met him.

JIM EVANS WAS A DEPUTY SHERIFF FOR RIVERSIDE COUNTY. An ARMY GREEN BERET AND VIETNAM VETERAN, HE WAS ORIGINALLY FROM TEXAS.

Mary:He was six foot. His hair was rather a light kind of sandy brown. He had a nice looking mustache at that Texas accent.

HE WAS A REAL COWBOY

Mary:He wore his cowboy hat.. And he wore cowboy boots. He always, off duty. He was in jeans and, you know, cowboy shirt.

MARY WOULD TAKE HER KIDS TO BACK EAST WHERE SHE GREW UP TO GET AWAY FROM HER ABUSIVE HUSBAND.

Mary: And while I was back there, my girlfriend, she'd stay in touch with me and all. She said, you know, that deputy, he came by a few times to see how you were doing. And I said, well, that was really nice of him. It was weird because, you know, he said, well, can I have her phone number? So he called me up. So I talked on the phone with him and all. And then he started writing letters to me and I started writing letters back to him. That connection was there. And we ended up getting married.

BEAT

BACK IN CALIFORNIA THEY HAD A CHILD TOGETHER. MARY REMEMBERS FATHER AND SON THE MORNING OF THE ROBBERY.

Mary: He came in, picked up the baby, and he was a chunky baby, he was 10 pounds and I'm like, you know, I’m very small I’m 5’4 about 115 pounds. So he's bouncing the baby on his knee, you know. And so he said to me, you know, Mary some men, never get to see their sons grow up. And I said is there something going to

     happen? He goes, I don't know, it's just a feeling.

Music

AFTER LEARNING OF THE ROBBERY, JIM EVANS, WHO WAS THE KIND OF EXPERIENCED OFFICER WHO RUSHED TO ANY CRIME SCENE, HAD MUSCLED HIS WAY TO THE THE FRONT OF THE CHASE. HIS CAR HUGGING THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN AS HE WOUND HIS WAY ON THE NARROW JAGGED PATH IN LYTLE CREEK.

Radio:I think Evans is the closest one.

JIM TRIED TO KEEP SOME DISTANCE FROM THE YELLOW TRUCK BECAUSE THE SUSPECTS WERE CONTINUING TO SHOOT LIKE CRAZY BEHIND THEM AS THEY SPED FORWARD.

Radio: Are they stationery at that point? Evans: that’s a negative. They’re moving, they’re firing like crazy.

A HELICOPTER HOVERED ABOVE - RADIOING DOWN THE LOCATION AS BEST HE COULD TO THE CARS IN PURSUIT.

RADIO:Ok he’s still moving Northbound according to chopper.

Radio:Evans you ok? EVANS: Yeah I’m ok. We’re still following.

BECAUSE OF ALL THE CURVES, THE SUSPECTS WERE IN AND OUT OF SIGHT FOR JIM EVANS. HE FEARED HE WOULD ROUND A CORNER AND FIND THEM READY TO AMBUSH HIM. HE ASKED THE DISPATCHER TO JUST LET HIM KNOW IF THE SUSPECTS SUDDENLY STOPPED.

Radio: Tell me if they stopped that’s what we want to know. Ok. GEORGE WOULD LATER TELL THE DETECTIVE THAT THEIR GOAL WAS SIMPLY TO

ESCAPE AND STOP THE POLICE FROM FOLLOWING THEM

George: We're in Lytle Creek and - and uh what we're tryin' to do is hit the engines on the police vehicles to stop 'em.
Detective:Uh huh.

George: To stop police vehicle. I wasn't tryin' to kill. THE ROBBERS WOULD DRIVE UNTIL THE DIRT ROAD IN FRONT OF THEM WAS

WASHED OUT. THEY COULDN’T DRIVE ANY FURTHER.

Detective:You went around the corner I take it. George:We kept driving until we came to the dead-end.

THEY ABANDONED THE YELLOW TRUCK. JIM WAS IN THE POLICE CAR THAT WAS CLOSEST BEHIND THEM.

AND DJ MCCARTY - WITH THE AR BETWEEN HIS KNEES - WAS BEHIND HIM. BUT JIM AND DJ COULDN’T COMMUNICATE BECAUSE THEY WERE ON DIFFERENT FREQUENCIES.

DJ:All of a sudden, Jim's car, Deputy Evans’ car stops dead in front of us and we stop for a second and we're looking and we're going, what is he doing? I can't really see what's going on in front of Evans because the bend in the road.

JIM CALLED INTO THE DISPATCH.

RADIO: We’re taking rounds
DJ REALIZES THAT AROUND THE CORNER, THE SUSPECTS HAVE STOPPED THEIR

VEHICLE, AND ARE NOW SHOOTING TOWARDS JIM EVANS.

DJ:I look back up at Evans and I see him jump out of the driver’s side. He goes behind his unit, drops to the ground, and I remember he dropped down on one knee.

JIM QUICKLY RELOADED HIS GUN.

DJ: He dumped his dead rounds out, And I remember thinking, damn, he's good. Because he did it, just one, two, three, reloaded his gun. And then I looked up and I saw one of them take a position on the side of the hill, point his rifle right where he went down.

DJ LOOKED AT JIM CROUCHED BEHIND THE CAR AND THOUGHT “ JUST DON’T POP UP .”

DJ: And it was split seconds. All I could think is don't get up. And he got up and he took around in the right eye, which basically killed him instantly.

Radio:Evans you there? Evans who’s in the truck? Jim talk. DJ COULD BARELY PROCESS WHAT HE HAD JUST WITNESSED

DJ:My world blew up. There was brain matter, blood, glass, parts of his lights on the top of his car, everything. And it's in a valley where these weapons are echoing. And it was just pure terror.

     And I just saw that Evans went down and then they saw me
     sitting there. They just plastered my car, every time I
     move my arm or whatever did anything a bullet went by and I
     got shrapnel in my face and a bullet that bounced off my
     dashboard and into my right elbow.

DJ’S FIRST IMPULSE WAS TO DIVE UNDERNEATH HIS CAR

DJ: Istuffed a two hundred pounds, six foot two body under, about five inches of a Fairmont patrol car. Which is getting turned into Swiss cheese.

Shots

HE TOOK A DEEP BREATH AND TRIED TO KEEP IT TOGETHER. HE REALIZED THAT IN HIS MOMENT OF PANIC, HE HAD LEFT THE ARIN THE CAR SEAT. AND SO HE BLINDLY STUCK HIS HAND UP.

DJ:I reached up and started feeling around in the car and I just grabbed the barrel of the AR that was laying on the front seat. I thought to myself, okay, just get this thing working and get over the door. Scream all words your mother told you never to use and start shooting. I stand up over

     the open door and I just get a visual of four men in front
     of me. And I just started shooting. And thank God they
     turned around and ran.

RADIO TRAFFIC

THE ROBBERS DITCHED THE YELLOW TRUCK AND SET OFF ON FOOT INTO THE WILDERNESS OF LYTLE CREEK. THE SUN WAS BEGINNING TO GO DOWN

Music
MONTHS EARLIER, JIM EVANS AND HIS WIFE MARY HAD GONE TO A FUNERAL

Mary: We were up at that cemetery. He said, I want you to know this is where I want to be buried. If I go in a shoot out, that's exactly what he said to me, he said, then bury me in my police uniform. But if I die normally, bury me in my military uniform. I said, why are you telling me these things? And he said, because I just want you to know. And he said, if anything ever happens. Make sure you always take my son to Texas. I said, I'll do that. And so.

ASC:Oh Mary, I’m so sorry.
Mary:That's OK. And so I said, I'll do that, Jim, I'll do that.

ACCORDING TO MARY, BEFORE JIM DIED, HE HAD GROWING CONCERNS ABOUT ABOUT OFFICER SAFETY.

Mary:Because of the duty that he did in Vietnam and and Green Berets, he knew a lot about guns and everything else. And uh he sent many memos to the sheriff that last year before he died.

     He told  them we need military assault rifles. It was almost like
     he could see it coming and he'd tell me something big is going to
     happen.

NEXT TIME ON NORCO ‘80.

DJ: When people are trying to kill you, when they've shot eight cops, civilians robbed a bank and they're shooting at you. Yeah, I want to kill them. I don't want to, I don't want to capture them.

AN ANGRY POLICE FORCE REACTS.
AND ONE MORE PERSON WOULDN’T MAKE IT OFF THE MOUNTAINSIDE ALIVE.

Officer: As we searched the area and the helicopter, we spotted yellow gloves. And shortly thereafter, the suspect was down.

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre. The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardif.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow and Julia Caruso.

Original music by Zach Robinson.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Special Thanks to Bill Crowe and to Paul Benoit

Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast onApple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts.And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

END

EPISODE 3Chapter 3: The Robbers
George Smith didn't set out to rob a bank. He just wanted to survive the apocalypse. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

A QUICK WARNING: SOME OF THE SERIES INCLUDES DESCRIPTIONS OF VIOLENCE.

LAST WEEK ON NORCO 80:

Radio Traffic:...The suspects are stranded, the vehicle’s disabled at Hamner and 4th!

Detective: Who got killed at the bank? George:Billy.
Detective: Billy? What was his last name? George:Delgado.

Detective: Billy Delgado? He was the driver of the van? George:And one of my best friends, yes.

ON MAY 9, 1980, SHARON DICKENS REMEMBERS BEING TERRIFIED WHEN MASKED ROBBERS BURST INTO THE BANK WHERE SHE WORKED AS A TELLER.

Sharon:The only thing that I can remember thinking was just do as he says, do as he says, give him what he wants. That's what they taught us in training. Don't try and be a hero.

AFTER THE ROBBERS LEFT THE BANK, AND THE FEAR FADED, SHARON LEARNED FROM THE POLICE, THAT THE ROBBERS WEREN’T RANDOM, ARMED STRANGERS. ONE OF THEM, GEORGE SMITH, WAS ACTUALLY HER NEIGHBOR.

Sharon:We had an acre and a quarter of property. Their backyard was up against my, our backyard, where they had dug their tunnel, if you will, where they were going to retreat to. I mean, they were living right there.

ASC: Did you know that there was a crazy bunker being built next door to you?

Sharon: No!Heavens no. The FBI actually interviewed my then father and mother in law because they thought originally they thought it could have been an inside job because the suspect's back yard backed up against our back yard. But I set them straight real quick.

MUSIC CUE

THAT DAY, THE POLICE WERE SO ASTONISHED AT THE LEVEL OF FIREPOWER THAT THE SUSPECTS DISPLAYED, THAT THEY CAME UP WITH A LOT OF WILD THEORIES ABOUT WHO THEY WERE.

ONE OF THE OFFICERS ON THE SCENE THOUGHT THE ROBBERY MIGHT BE RELATED TO THE LEFTIST MILITANT GROUP THAT HAD KIDNAPPED HEIRESS PATTY HEARST.

Rolf: Is this some kind of terrorist outfit? Not only are they armed to the teeth with rifles but they’re dressed in military fatigues.

THE FBI THOUGHT THEY MIGHT BE A NOTORIOUS GROUP OF BANK ROBBERS FROM CANADA KNOWN FOR USING A TIMER

Andrew:These guys we believe are the Stop Watch Gang and that they do take over bank robberies.

OR MAYBETHEY WERE A RADICAL REVOLUTIONARY OUTFIT, KNOWN FOR THEIR BOMBINGS OF GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS AND BANKS

Rolf:I was a little concerned at the time. You know there was this wild group, the weathermen that were out there, the Weather Underground. I was wondering, is this them?

BUT NONE OF THESE THEORIES TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE.

THEME MUSIC

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND THIS IS NORCO80. A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM, AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

CHAPTER 3: THE ROBBERS

George: We're all uh really good friends. And then uh we all ran into really bad luck all at once.

THEME MUSIC OUT

FIVE YOUNG MEN PLAYED A PART IN THE BANK ROBBERY IN NORCO CALIFORNIA THAT DAY.

NONE OF THEM HAD EVER ROBBED A BANK BEFORE, OR EVEN COMMITTED A MAJOR CRIME.

THE ASSUMED RINGLEADER OF THE GROUP - WAS THE CHARISMATIC GEORGE SMITH.

FBI:You - you planned the operation yourself or ? George:Uh, yes, I did. It was mine.

WHEN QUESTIONED BY THE POLICE, GEORGE WOULD TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PLAN TO ROB THE BANK.

FBI: Your operation all the way. You told them what to do in the bank?
George:I told 'em what to do in the bank. I cased the bank. Made the bombs. I did all that.

HE SAID “I TOLD ‘EM WHAT TO DO IN THE BANK. I CASED THE BANK. MADE THE BOMBS. IDID ALL THAT.”

BUT LONG BEFORE GEORGE DREAMED UP A PLAN TO ROB A BANK - HE WAS A SHY KID.

Rosie:The first time I ever saw George, I believe he was in the third grade. I don't remember. But I thought what a handsome young man.
ASC: Even in the third grade?

Rosie: Ithought he was really nice looking. Yes, I did. ASC:And what did he look like?
Rosie:Oh, he had dark hair and dark eyes and beautiful color brown skin like a tan. And he was real quiet and cute.

ROSALINDA MIRANDA JOHSON MET GEORGE SMITH GROWING UP IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

Rosie: I'm 67. And my profession is I'm a grandma.
ASC: I love that.
Rosie:Me too. My grandkids pushed me around and got me by the fingers in my nose. They always tell me where we're going to go. C’mon grandma. We're going shopping.

BACK IN THE ‘60s, ROSALINDA DIDN'T MUSTER UP THE COURAGE TO TALK TO GEORGE UNTIL HIGH SCHOOL.

Rosie: He worked for the school paper. At lunchtime, I went by and I said, hi, George. And he said, hi back. And I said, You still got your car. He goes, No, it's kind of broken right now. And then I said something like, well, when you get your car fixed, why don’t you give me a call. And he said, Really? And I said, Yeah.

MUSIC

     He came over one night and knocked on the door and I was
     making tortillas. And he says, you probably forgot. He
     goes, but you said you'd go out with me on the movies.

THAT’S WHEN THEY STARTED DATING.

Rosie: Sometimes we'd be talking with a bunch of other people and then he'd be looking at me and he'd give me his eyes like, you know, he really liked me. And then when we're alone, he'd say, "you know how much I wanted to hold you”
ASC:So romantic!
Rosie: You remember that show “That girl” with Marla Thomas? Well, it was about a girl that was in New York and she had a boy boyfriend named Donald.
And I always would go up to George and put my head on his shoulder and I'd say, Oh Donald.

OH DONALD

THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE GEORGE AND ROSALINDA GREW UP, WAS IN A HISTORICALLY SEGREGATED SUBURBAN COUNTY, SOUTH OF LOS ANGELES.

AND ROSALINDA REMEMBERS HOW IN THE LATE 50s HER SCHOOL WASN’T VERY OPEN TO FAMILIES LIKE HERS.

Rosie: Since I am a Mexican you know, my parents and grandmother, you raise your kid with the language that you have at home. And then​ ​when I started school, I found out I had to speak English and it was really difficult for me and I'd get in a lot of trouble.

ONE TIME, SHE SAID HOLA TO SOME GIRLS AT SCHOOL WHO SHE THOUGHT WANTED TO PLAY. BUT THEY TOLD ON HER AND THE TEACHERS SHOOK HER AS PUNISHMENT FOR NOT SPEAKING IN ENGLISH.

Rosie: When I went and got in line they run and tell my teacher,And I get another shook,you know, my head would be like a bobbing back and forth. And so I kind of kept kind of quiet after after that.

GEORGE’S FAMILY HAD MOVED TO ORANGE COUNTY IN 1956, WHEN HE WAS 4 YEARS OLD, FROM CASPER, WYOMING. HIS FATHER WAS WHITE AND HIS MOTHER WAS JAPANESE-AMERICAN, AND THEY WERE LOOKING FOR A PLACE WHERE THEY MIGHT FIT IN BETTER.

GROWING UP HALF WHITE AND HALF JAPANESE IN THE DECADES AFTER WORLD WAR TWO, GEORGE WAS USED TO BEING CALLED AN ETHNIC SLUR FOR JAPANESE PEOPLE.

BUT IN ORANGE COUNTY HE SEEMED TO BE DOING PRETTY WELL. IN HIGH SCHOOL, HE WASN’T JUST THE EDITOR OF THE SCHOOL PAPER – HE ALSO PLAYED ON THE TENNIS TEAM.

AT 18 - AFTER HE GRADUATED, HE AND ROSALINDA GOT MARRIED. THEY WENT TO A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE AND HAD A RECEPTION AT HIS PARENTS’ HOUSE.

Rosie:And they decorated the place and they had lots of food and some mixed drinks, even though we were not old enough to drink... And we didn't. And it was really nice. I liked it. I really enjoyed that. That part of our marriage.

BUT AT THAT POINT ROSALINDA ALREADY HAD CONCERNS.

Rosie:When we were young, when we were dating, he told me he had to do something. And that was to kill somebody. ASC: He told you he had to kill somebody?
Rosie:Yes, he wanted to know what it felt like.

SHE SAYS HE SEEMED FASCINATED WITH DEATH.

Rosie:He goes best thing to do - take a whole bunch of pills.
ASC: He was telling you to take a bunch of pills? Oh my god that’s awful.

Rosie:He'd always say that look like Romeo and Juliet. He says, Let's be like Romeo and Juliet. I'm thinking like hell I am. No way. No way I'm going to take no Romeo and Juliet. Not this Mexican.

ONCE ROSALINDA HAD TRIED TO BREAK-UP WITH HIM. SHE SAYS HE THREATENED HER SAYING: “IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU, NO ONE CAN HAVE YOU.”

MUSIC WINDOW

IN 1970, ABOUT A MONTH AFTER THEY WERE MARRIED, GEORGE JOINED THE ARMY. IN HIS ENLISTMENT PICTURE, HE’S GOT A BROAD AND CROOKED SMILE. HIS DARK HAIR WAVY, THE PINS ON HIS UNIFORM SHINY.

AT THE TIME, THE VIETNAM WAR WAS LOSING PUBLIC SUPPORT.

Clip:Strike! Strike! Strike!

THAT YEAR, FOUR STUDENT PROTESTORS WERE SHOT AND KILLED BY THE NATIONAL GUARD AT AN ANTI-WAR PROTEST AT KENT STATE. IT SPARKED DEMONSTRATIONS AT HUNDREDS OF COLLEGES. AND EVEN MORE BACKLASH AGAINST THE DRAFT.

Clip:We are here to demand in our name an end to the war in Vietnam. Not in ‘72, not in ‘71, but in 1970.

BUT GEORGE, VOLUNTEERED FOR THE ARMY. HE WOULD BE SENT TO GERMANY.

RIGHT BEFORE HE SHIPPED OUT, THINGS TOOK A TURN FOR THE WORSE BETWEEN HIM AND ROSALINDA. SHE REMEMBERS JOKINGLY TELLING GEORGE–

Rosie: And I said, hold George up I have a baby. And I always play that game. I like to play games. I don't know.

HE CALLED HER TO THE LIVING ROOM FROM THE BEDROOM.

Rosie: And then when as soon as I went through that threshold up from the door that goes into the living room, George was standing on the side. And when I walked by there, he got a kick. I just heard a foomp.

SHE SAYS HE KICKED HER IN THE STOMACH.

Rosie: And then he said. That's in case you're pregnant. I don't want no kids. And I knew this guy was serious, so I thought ay carramba I need to exit to the left.

Beat

GEORGE WOULD LATER DENY THIS.

ASC:So was it a kind of a situation where once he was gone, you were like, this is my chance to get out? Rosie:Yes. I hate to say that I don't want to, but it was not really a very safe place for me to be.

     Before he came back from Germany, I wrote him a Dear John
     letter. I wanted to wait till he came back, but that
     wouldn't be fair to him. And then that's when I met Mr.
     Johnson.

MUSIC

ROSALINDA MET ANOTHER MAN WHILE GEORGE WAS AWAY. AND SO WHEN HE CAME BACK FROM THE SERVICE, AFTER TWO YEARS, THEY GOT DIVORCED.
GEORGE STARTED LOOKING FOR A JOB AND ENDED UP WORKING IN PARKS MAINTENANCE FOR THE NEARBY TOWN OF CYPRESS.

IT’S DURING THIS TIME, THAT HE WOULD MEET THE WOMAN WHO WOULD BECOME HIS SECOND WIFE, HANNE PALMER.

ASC:What did you look like at the time?
Hanne:I was blond, blue-eyed, cute. And that was not really, you know, my problem, attract men. But I wasn’t that good with choosing because I had issues from home.

HANNE HAD EMIGRATED FROM GERMANY A FEW YEARS BEFORE. SHE CAME TO LOS ANGELES ON VACATION AND LOVED THE SUN AND OCEAN SO MUCH, SHE DECIDED TO STAY.

ONE NIGHT IN 1974, SHE WENT OUT, AFTER HER SHIFT AT A JEWELRY DISTRIBUTION CENTER.

Hanne: I went with a friend from work, we went to a dancing place, I guess it was a disco or something, and that's where I met him. He was charming and bright and kinda liked the way he looked, he looked a little bit foreign, curly black hair. But I really wasn't looking for a boyfriend, but he was pretty persistent.

     Gosh, we really probably didn't have that much in common,
     but somehow we got together.

ONE DAY, GEORGE TOLD HANNE HE WANTED TO GO HOUSE-SHOPPING. HE NEEDED MORE SPACE FOR HIS DOGS, BIG HUSKIES HE HAD AT THE TIME. AND SO HE AND HANNE WENT TOGETHER TO TALK TO A REAL-ESTATE AGENT

Hanne:But the guy said, well, why don't you guys get married? And then, you know, you can afford that place. And I still... I still remember I just kind of sort of freaked. I really did. I felt a little funny. And that’s when it kinda came up the first time about getting married.

SHORTLY AFTER THEY DID GET MARRIED. AND AFTER A WHILE, HANNE NOTICED​ ​SOME THINGS WERE OFF WITH GEORGE’S FAMILY.

Hanne:They were friendly enough. But um....they you know, we lived so close and they never ask, you know, how we were doing or anything. And then, you know, he said his mom said

     that, you know, I was really out of his league. And so I
     thought maybe that wasn't such a nice thing to say to your
     son.

GEORGE ALSO TOLD HER ABOUT SOME PHYSICAL ABUSE IN HIS CHILDHOOD. HANNE SAYS THAT HE TOLD HER, HIS FATHER BEAT HIM, AND HIS MOTHER BURNT HIS SISTER WITH CIGARETTES.

IN 1976, HANNE AND GEORGE HAD A CHILD, A GIRL THEY NAMED MONICA. AT THIS POINT, HANNE WAS SEEING A SIDE OF GEORGE THAT SCARED HER.

Hanne:Well at first it started out just, you know, hit the wall and made a big hole in the wall. And then he pushed me. And then, you know, once Monica was there, I think he felt a lot of the attention that he thought he wanted or whatever went to her. One time he... I think he would have hit me. But, you know, I took my daughter and ran out the back door in my underwear. And luckily we had nosy neighbors. So they came out. And so then he stopped. See I wasn't so good for myself, but I know I didn't want my daughter to grow up this way. So that's when I started thinking of how to leave safe.

ROSALINDA AND HANNE BOTH REMEMBER GEORGE AS CHARMING AND POSSESSIVE. BUT THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT CHANGED BETWEEN THE RELATIONSHIPS, A SHIFT AFTER HE RETURNED FROM HIS MILITARY SERVICE. THIS IS ROSALINDA AGAIN.

ASC: Was he really religious when you were together? Rosie: No, he didn't believe in God. He said there is no God. I try to tell him, you know, George, there is a God and you know that the Lord, you know, died for him and me on the cross and that. But he just said, I don't believe it. And so I just figured maybe later on in life he might find the Lord.
ASC:And then He did!
Rosie:Yes, he did.

BEAT

THE GEORGE HANNE MET WAS A CHANGED MAN

MUSIC

Hanne:He had this whole thing. He, you know, I don't know, he was one of God's elected to be a prophet or something. He just really went far out there. I think part of it was to want to be important to someone, to something.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 2: RELIGION

WE’RE BACK.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IN THE 1970S WAS THE EPICENTER OF CHRISTIAN YOUTH CULTURE.

Lonnie Frisbee:He has given us the message... Jesus is coming back, repetent. And turn to the lord and save yourselves from this evil generation.

WHERE GEORGE WAS LIVING, IN ORANGE COUNTY, THE “JESUS MOVEMENT” WAS SWEEPING UP THOUSANDS OF YOUTHS INTO A NEW KIND OF ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE.

Lonnie Frisbee: God is blowing everybody’s mind, because he’s saving the hippies and nobody thought that a hippie could be saved

AT THE NEARBY CALVARY CHURCH IN COSTA MESA, LONG-HAIRED PREACHERS SPREAD A MESSAGE OF PEACE AND LOVE

Lonnie Frisbee: You cannot see the wind but you can see the leaves rustle through the winds...you cannot see the spirit of God move but you can see it when he touches people.

Merges into Ethereal Music

GEORGE HAD GROWN UP WITH THE BIBLE AT HOME – DISCUSSED CHRISTIANITY WITH HIS FATHER – BUT AFTER HE RETURNED FROM HIS TIME

IN THE ARMY, GEORGE BEGAN TO REALLY STUDY IT. FRIENDS SAID HE TALKED ABOUT IT OBSESSIVELY.

A FRIEND WHO GREW UP WITH GEORGE RECALLS BEING BAPTIZED TOGETHER, BY A PASTOR OF THE CALVARY CHURCH AT HUNTINGTON BEACH. AT THE TIME - OCEAN BAPTISMS WERE POPULAR, THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE, HALF NAKED, MANY LONG-HAIRED, WOULD MEET ON THE SAND, AND WADE INTO THE WATER AT SUNSET, TO BE BAPTIZED BY LINES OF MINISTERS.

GEORGE HAD VISITED THE CALVARY CHAPEL, BUT HE DIDN’T STICK WITH JUST ONE CHURCH. HE ATTENDED SERVICES ALL OVER, TAKING IN DIFFERENT TEACHINGS.

WHAT HE BECAME FIXATED ON​ ​WAS ONE PARTICULAR IDEA. A BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION THAT WAS GROWING IN POPULARITY OUTSIDE OF THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT TOO. THAT THE END OF THE WORLD WAS COMING, AND COMING SOON.

David Templeton: So what some people would imagine is that there would be a trumpet sound, we would disappear and our clothes would just fall to the ground and people would come and say, what's this? Oh, it must be the rapture.

DAVID TEMPLETON WAS A TEENAGER IN THE 1970s. HE WAS GOING TO THE CALVARY CHURCH AT THE SAME TIME AS GEORGE.

David: There was a popular song by Larry Norman called I Wish We'd All Been Ready.

LARRY NORMAN WAS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF CHRISTIAN ROCK, A GENRE THAT WAS JUST BEGINNING.

SONG: LARRY NORMAN - I WISH WE’D ALL BEEN READY

David: And the lyrics included things like life was filled with guns and war and everyone got trampled on the floor. I wish we'd all been ready.

     And there's a line in there about a trumpet blast and
     people rising up and then all this horrible stuff that's
     going to happen afterwards.

MUSIC BEAT

FOR CENTURIES, SOME CHRISTIANS HAVE BELIEVED THAT JESUS CHRIST WILL RETURN ONE DAY AND THE WORLD WILL END. THAT WHEN THE RAPTURE COMES, WHEN TRUE BELIEVERS ACROSS THE WORLD WOULD DISAPPEAR INTO THE HEAVENS, LEAVING BEHIND THE REST OF HUMANITY TO WAR, DISASTER, FAMINE, AND GENERAL SUFFERING.

David: We were always kind of halfway in between this sort of ecstasy of the intensity of it and the just incredible fear because we were waiting for the end times to begin.

IN THE ‘60S AND ‘70S, ANXIETY AROUND THE COLD WAR LED TO RENEWED POPULARITY IN CHRISTIAN GROUPS THAT PREACHED THE END TIMES.

David: Nuclear exchanges hanging over us definitely was something that we'd all grown up with doing those drills and school where we'd hear the siren and hide under a desk, we all had that fear of the end of the world, which dovetailed really nicely into this fear of the end times. We had been trained to believe that the world was about to end, but we are now told it's not going to happen because of Russia. It's going to happen because of the Antichrist.

GEORGE HAS SAID THAT WHILE IN THE ARMY, HE WAS ASSIGNED TO WORK WITH NUCLEAR BOMBS AND WEAPONRY. AND THAT BECAUSE OF THAT EXPERIENCE HE CAME TO BELIEVE IN A VERY REAL WAY, THAT THE END OF THE WORLD COULD HAPPEN AT ANY MOMENT.

HIS BELIEF WAS REINFORCED BY THE POPULAR CULTURE OF THE TIME.
IN THE 1970S, DOOMSDAY CHRISTIAN BELIEFS ENTERED THE MAINSTREAM WITH BOOKS LIKE “THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH.”

Clip: Man is faced by unprecedented perils that threaten to send him crashing into the dark abyss of silence known as extinction

IT PREDICTED THAT THE RETURN OF JESUS, AND THUS THE END OF THE WORLD, WOULD HAPPEN IN THE 1980s. THE NEW YORK TIMES CALLED IT THE “NO. 1 NON-FICTION BESTSELLER OF THE DECADE.”

IT WAS EVEN TURNED INTO A MOVIE NARRATED BY ORSON WELLES.

Clip:Then as now, man believed himself too sophisticated for prophesies. But now prophetic patterns exist that cannot be ignored; cannot be forgotten.

IT WASN’T THE ONLY POPULAR APOCALYPTIC BOOK OF THE TIME. IN 1974, “THE JUPITER EFFECT” SET A DATE FOR THE END-TIMES TOO.

Clip:SUNSPOTS; SOLAR FLARES. GIGANTIC Eruptions on the sun’s surface....

WRITTEN BY TWO SCIENTISTS. IT PREDICTED AN ALIGNMENT OF THE PLANETS WOULD CAUSE A SERIES OF NATURAL CATASTROPHES BY THE YEAR 1982.

Clip:How many how severe? It’s anybody’s guess. All we know for certain is that no civilization on earth has ever been so vulnerable.

MUSIC TRANSITION BACK TO REALITY

HANNE PALMER AND GEORGE SMITH DIDN’T TALK ABOUT RELIGION WHEN THEY FIRST STARTED SEEING EACH OTHER. BUT LATER ON HE TOLD HER ABOUT HIS GROWING CONCERNS.

HANNE:He kind of got into revelation in the Bible and the seven year war. And he felt we needed to get ready for that.

GEORGE WAS MOST INTERESTED IN THE PARTS OF THE BIBLE THAT PREDICTED THIS TIME OF TRIBULATION. AND HE WANTED HANNE AND BABY MONICA TO START PREPARING RIGHT AWAY.

HANNE:He got a little,kind of carried away with that and he felt he had a special role in this and needed to keep his family safe. And I think that was one of the reasons he later wanted money to get a place in the country to keep his friends and family safe.

IN OTHER WORDS—GEORGE BECAME OBSESSED WITH PREPARING FOR THE END OF THE WORLD. HE WOULD TALK ABOUT MOVING TO A REMOTE LOCATION, WHERE THEY COULD HUNKER DOWN AND BE SAFE.
THESE IDEAS MADE HANNE UNCOMFORTABLE. AND AFTER GEORGE TRIED TO HIT HER, SHE WANTED TO LEAVE.

Hanne:I wasn't quite sure how to do it. And I didn't have family I mean, in America where I lived, I had friends, but I felt embarrassed to tell anybody, you know, that was not the time people knew about abuse.

AND THEN, SHE SAW A WAY OUT. AT THE TIME, SHE AND GEORGE WERE LIVING TOGETHER IN A HOUSE THEY OWNED.

BUT GEORGE CAME TO HER ONE DAY WITH A PLAN, FOR THEM TO BUY ANOTHER HOUSE WITH HIS PARKS DEPARTMENT COWORKER CHRIS HARVEN.

Hanne: This whole thing with Chris came in there and then they wanted to grow pot.

THEY WANTED TO START A MARIJUANA FARM IN THE BACKYARD. HE AND HANNE WOULD JUST NEED TO SELL THEIRHOUSE FIRST.

HANNE:So I said, OK, let's sell the house. But I said, I'm not gonna go with you, you know, when you go. But I don't want the police come to my door.
ASC:When they were growing the marijuana, was that purely for their own recreational use?

Hanne:No to sell it to make money! That was the big money. MUSIC

Hanne: Somehow I think he thought, you know, once they have made enough money, I would come back.

BUT THEY NEVER WOULD. AND SO GEORGE PUT TOGETHER A NEW PLAN - A PLAN TO ROB A BANK.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.

PART 3: CHRIS/THE HOUSE

WE’RE BACK.

TESTING TESTING AUDIO

WHEN THE POLICE CAPTURED AND QUESTIONED THE ROBBERS, THEY FIRST INTERROGATED GEORGE SMITH. BUT THEIR OTHER MAIN FOCUS WAS A 29-YEAR OLD MAN NAMED CHRIS HARVEN. AND CHRIS WOULD BE THE ONE TO TRY TO EXPLAIN THE “WHY” - WHY THEY WANTED TO ROB A BANK.

CHRIS:Might say it started...when my friend George split up with his wife.

CHRIS TOLD THEM IT ALL STARTED WHEN HIS FRIEND GEORGE HAD SPLIT FROM HIS WIFE HANNE. GEORGE AND CHRIS WOULD BUY A HOUSE TOGETHER. THEN THEY BOTH LOST THEIR JOBS.

CHRIS:I had a job for seven years, as soon as the guy took over, you know that, didn’t like me, got rid of me, and so that’s why I’m on unemployment.

MUSIC

CHRIS TOLD THE POLICE “THAT’S WHY I’M ON UNEMPLOYMENT.”

Chris: George lost his wife, his job, his family, he didn’t care too much, and he was without money so...he proposed a job.

CHRIS SAID “THAT’S WHEN GEORGE PROPOSED “A JOB.”

MUSIC WINDOW

CHRIS HARVEN FIRST MET GEORGE SMITH IN THE EARLY 1970s, WHILE THEY WERE DIGGING DITCHES IN THE SUN AND LAYING MULCH FOR THE CITY OF CYPRESS PARKS DEPARTMENT.

HE WAS 6FT TALL AND A PHYSICALLY FIT MAN, WITH DIRTY BLONDE HAIR AND A SILKY MUSTACHE. WHILE THEY WORKED THEY TALKED ABOUT COLD WAR

POLITICS OR THE BIBLE. THEY BONDED OVER THEIR SHARED FEAR THAT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, THE WORLD WAS FALLING APART. AND THEY OBSESSED OVER ANY EVIDENCE OR SIGNS THAT THE APOCALYPSE WAS COMING. THEY BOTH AGREED - THE END OF THE WORLD WAS IMMINENT.

Beat

SO CHRIS AND GEORGE HAD PUT DOWN A $5,000 DEPOSIT ON A HOUSE IN A NEIGHBORHOOD NORTH OF NORCO. GEORGE USED HIS VETERAN STATUS TO GET A DISCOUNTED MORTGAGE, AND THEY GOT A RUN DOWN, STUCCO, 3-BEDROOM HOUSE.

ASC:OK, great. Where am I calling you at? Where in the country are you?
LANI:I'm in California's Central Valley. ASC: Oh, OK cool.

LANI HARVEN, CHRIS’S WIFE AT THE TIME, LIVED WITH BOTH OF THEM FOR 6 MONTHS. CHRIS HAD MET LANI WHEN SHE WAS 16 YEARS-OLD, AT DISNEYLAND.

LANI:I would go there with a couple of friends, and at that time it only cost like three fifty to get in. But now we didn't ride rides. There was a dance floor and we would go dancing there. Which is healthy for a teen to do there. He and his friend approached me and my cousin, and that's all how we danced and we met that way.

CHRIS WAS TWO YEARS OLDER THAN LANI. HE TOLD HER HE WAS STARTING COMMUNITY COLLEGE, HOPING TO BE A LAWYER. THEY MARRIED WHEN LANI WAS 18. CHRIS NEVER GRADUATED. A COUPLE YEARS LATER THEY HAD A SON.

ASC:And so what was Chris like as a as a husband and as a father?
Lani: As a husband, it was fine for the first maybe year and so but then he became deceitful. You know, back then I know marijuana was not legal and all, but he was smoking it. I didn't know. And I found it and I approached him and it just seemed like I couldn't trust him and he was unfaithful.

SHE SAYS HE CHEATED ON HER REPEATEDLY. AND SHE WASN’T PLEASED WHEN CHRIS AND GEORGE BEGAN BUILDING A WEED FARM.

LANI: And the backyard was all dirt. And that’s where they built their...I don’t know what it was. They built something to grow there.

MUSIC

IN THE BACKYARD, THE MEN BUILT A GREENHOUSE. THEY TOPPED IT WITH BARBED WIRE AND FIBERGLASS.

AND WHILE THEY BUILT THEIR WEED OPERATION, THEY ALSO BEGAN MAKING OTHER PREPARATIONS - FOR THE END OF THE WORLD.

Lani:So basically, they were digging a tunnel for the purpose of protecting...well, they would say even myself to go down there if a bomb hits or whatever.
ASC:Did they say where the bomb was coming from?
Lani:No, just the end of the world, you know, just whatever would happen. I don't really recall.
ASC:Would you just kinda tune it out?
Lani:Yeah, there you go.

THEY DUG A 10 FOOT DEEP PIT, WITH TUNNELS UNDER THE HOUSE. BUT THIS WAS JUST A STARTER SHELTER, THE PLAN WAS ONCE THEY’D SAVED ENOUGH THEY’D BUY A HOUSE IN UTAH OR ANOTHER REMOTE PLACE, AND BUILD A TRUEBUNKER.

AT THE TIME, LANI DIDN’T TAKE THEM TOO SERIOUSLY. HANNE, GEORGE’SEX WIFE, WOULD SOMETIMES COME OVER AND SHE AND LANI WOULD IGNORE THE MEN, AS THEY TALKED ABOUT RELIGION OR PLAYED LONG, INTENSE GAMES OF RISK.

Lani: She would come and we would watch TV and stuff and again they would be in the back room talking or whatever, doing their smoking, whatever, what they were doing.

CHRIS AND GEORGE HAD FRIENDS COMING IN AND OUT OF THE HOUSE. GEORGE SOMETIMES PRACTICED WITH HIS SMALL BAND - HANNE REMEMBERS HE WAS THE FRONTMAN.

Hanne:He really he was the singer and then he had a harmonica and had somebody with a guitar...they basically mostly played in the garage.

THEY CALLED THEMSELVES “MIXED COMPANY.” THEY WOULD DO SMALL GIGS AT BARS OR FAIRS.

Hanne: Yeah, it was kind of, you know, rock and roll type of thing. Yeah, it was. It was you know, like I don't think it was that great, but it was good.

THE GUITARIST IN THE BAND HAD TWO BROTHERS THAT GEORGE WOULD BECOME FRIENDLY WITH. THE OLDER WAS 21-YEAR OLD MANUEL DELGADO, KNOWN AS MANNY.

HANNE:His wife came. And I liked her. She was really nice. THE YOUNGER WAS 17-YEAR OLD BELISARIO DELGADO - KNOWN AS BILLY.

Hanne: Billy was very sweet. I don't know. All I remember is I had to go grocery shopping or something, so he either went with me or he helped me to put them inside. He was a very sweet young man.

BY MARCH OF 1980, THINGS WERE COMING TO A HEAD FOR CHRIS AND GEORGE. AT THIS POINT NEITHER OF THEM WAS WORKING FULL-TIME. AND NOT ONLY HAD THEY NOT SAVED ENOUGH FOR A BUNKER IN UTAH, THEY WERE NOW STRUGGLING TO PAY THE MORTGAGE.

LANI HAD DECIDED TO LEAVE CHRIS AND MOVE OUT OF THE HOUSE.

ASC:Did you know about them starting to buy and store guns or bombs?
Lani:No. I think when they started getting that is after I left. But I know they probably got money from their growing, you know what I mean? I just felt like your guys’ mind’s in the clouds or something.

IF THEY LOST THE HOUSE, IT WOULD MEAN LOSING THE TUNNELS THEY HAD BUILT IN THE BACKYARD AND THE OVER 300 MARIJUANA PLANTS THEY’D BEEN CAREFULLY GROWING.

THIS IS WHEN THE IDEA OF A ROBBERY BECAME THE SOLUTION TO ALL THEIR PROBLEMS.

BUT THEY WOULD NEED SOME HELP TO PULL IT OFF. CHRIS AND GEORGE BEGAN TO RECRUIT.

MUSIC

MANNY DELGADO WOULD HELP GRAB THE CASH.

HE HAD LONG SIDEBURNS AND HIS INITIALS TATTOOED ON HIS ARM. HE WAS ABOUT TO HAVE A SECOND CHILD, AND FIGURED HE COULD USE THE MONEY.

BILLY DELGADO​ ​WOULD BECOME THE GETAWAY DRIVER.
BILLY WAS MANNY’S TEENAGE BROTHER WAS A SOMEWHAT UNLIKELY

RECRUIT. HE WAS VERY YOUNG AND STRUGGLED WITH ARTHRITIS
AND RUSSELL HARVEN - KNOWN AS RUSS - WOULD BECOME THE LOOKOUT.

RUSS WAS CHRIS’S YOUNGER BROTHER WAS THE LAST MEMBER THEY WOULD BRING IN ON THE PLAN. HE HAD THE SAME LIGHT HAIR BUT HE ALSO HAD A LONG, BRUSHY BEARD. HE WAS 26, AND HE WAS BEHIND ON HIS CHILD SUPPORT.

FINALLY - CHRIS WOULD HELP GATHER THE MONEY. AND IT WAS DECIDED GEORGE WOULD BE THE TIMEKEEPER.

IN THE WEEK LEADING UP TO THE ROBBERY, GEORGE CASED THE BANK, MEMORIZING THE LAYOUT SO HE KNEW WHERE THEY WOULD POSITION THEMSELVES TO GRAB THE CASH IN UNDER 2 MINUTES.

CHRIS AND GEORGE HAD ALREADY BEEN BUILDING A GUN COLLECTION. BUT WITH THEIR REMAINING MONEY, THEY BOUGHT MORE. THEY HAD

AR-15s, SHOTGUNS, THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION, AND A GERMAN SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE KNOWN AS A HECKLER. GEORGE WOULD TELL POLICE ABOUT HOW THEY WENT PRACTICE SHOOTING.

George:'Bout once a month.
Officer:You come up here shooting about once a month? And you shoot those M-16's?
George:Heckler.
Officer:Heckler? Is that .45 caliber?

USING A COPY OF THE ANARCHIST COOKBOOK AND GEORGE’S MILITARY KNOWLEDGE, THEY BEGAN TO TRAIN.

MUSIC

THEY WENT TO A NEARBY MOUNTAIN TO TARGET PRACTICE AND SET OFF HOMEMADE BOMBS AND GRENADES.

IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE ROBBERY, GEORGE STOPPED CUTTING HIS HAIR SO HE COULD BE LIKE THE BIBLICAL HERO SAMSON - WHOSE HAIR WAS THE SOURCE OF HIS INCREDIBLE STRENGTH.

BUT DESPITE THEIR TRAINING AND PREPARATION - THE ROBBERS NEVER IMAGINED - THAT THIS HEIST OF GEORGE’S LOCAL BANK, WOULD TURN INTO A EXTENDED MANHUNT ACROSS SEVERAL COUNTIES.

Officer: Is this the first bank you guys have ever robbed? George:The first one I ever did. Criminality isn't my profession.

GEORGE TOLD THE POLICE “CRIMINALITY ISN’T MY PROFESSION”

THE WINDING JOURNEY TO THEIR FINAL STAND OFF WITH THE POLICE WOULD INVOLVE 33 COP CARS DAMAGED, EIGHT OFFICERS WOUNDED, AND EVEN ONE HELICOPTER SHOT DOWN FROM THE SKY.

Detective:Who shot up our helicopter? That's gonna be an expensive one to pay for.
George:Did it get hit?
Detective:Yeah.

George:That was - that was part of the wild firefight. We were all shooting.

[Radio Traffic - confusing shouting]

DEPUTY ROLF PARKES: My dispatch asks, can you confirm if a helicopter is being shot out of the sky? I go what? Are you kidding me?

MUSIC

THAT’S NEXT TIME ON NORCO 80.

END

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre. The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.
Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.
Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardiff.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow and Elishiba Itoop.

Original music by Zach Robinson.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Special Thanks to Ralph Miranda

Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast onApple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts.And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

THIS EPISODE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF RALPH MIRANDA, WE WERE GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK TO HIM FOR THIS STORY. WE THANK HIM AND HIS FAMILY FOR THEIR TIME.

EPISODE 2Chapter 2: The Firefight
The bank robbers make it out of the Security Pacific Bank, cash in hand––but they’re immediately met by the police and a firefight begins.  Norco ‘80 is produced by LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios. *Editor’s note: For clarification, Deputy Sheriff Andrew Delgado-Monti carried both a revolver and a shotgun during the firefight outside the Security Pacific Bank, which was standard for the Riverside Sheriff’s Office at the time. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

Chapter 2: The Firefight
A quick warning: Some of the series includes descriptions of graphic violence PRE-ROLL

Radio static

AT AROUND 3:30PM, ON MAY 9th 1980, DEPUTY SHERIFF ANDREW DELGADO-MONTI WAS FINISHING UP WORKING THE TRAFFIC BEAT IN NORCO CALIFORNIA WITH A FELLOW OFFICER

Andrew: Well, we're we're standing by cars and in Riverside we had an alert tone that the dispatchers push a button and it would send out a tone to all the cars. It would go beep.

BEEP

Andrew: When that went off. Everybody listened because something hot is going to be put over the radio.
Radio: Riverside to Norco units. Have a 211 in progress. Security Pacific Bank at 4th and Hammner

Andrew: Something bad is happening
Radio: The suspect vehicle is a green van with weapons. Andrew: It was broadcast over the radio: armed suspects seen entering the bank.

ONLY SECONDS AFTER THE BANK ROBBERY WAS ANNOUNCED ON THE BROADCAST, AN OFFICER HAD ARRIVED AND THE SHOOTING HAD BEGUN.

Andrew: We threw our coffee down and we jumped in our cars. And we hear Bolaskey.
Radio: I’ve been hit!
Andrew: Glenn Bolaskey jump on a radio screaming bloody murder.

Radio: Officer hit. Clear the air 1199. Theme Music

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT GOD, GUNS, SURVIVALISM AND THE BANK ROBBERY THAT CHANGED POLICING FOREVER.

CHAPTER 2: THE FIREFIGHT

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN GEORGE SMITH AND THE OTHER SUSPECTS EXITED THE BANK

Detective:The first car that showed up at the scene the officer got out, were you shooting at him?
George:Yes. I just sprayed bullets like every - you know. Just a wild firefight.

Theme Music Out

AS GEORGE SMITH WOULD ADMIT THE NEXT DAY - WHAT HAPPENED RIGHT OUTSIDE THE BANK WAS A BLUR TO HIM. THE DETECTIVE ASKED HIM IF HE REMEMBERED SHOOTING ANY OFFICERS AT THAT TIME

Detective: Did you guys hit any officers at that time? George: Nobody knew. It was just burst. It was just like uh bullets were flyin' everywhere.

GEORGE SAID NOBODY KNEW - IT WAS JUST A BURST, BULLETS WERE FLYING EVERYWHERE.

GEORGE AND THE OTHER SUSPECTS CARRIED SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, WHICH WERE LEGAL. BUT THAT LEVEL OF FIREPOWER WAS RARELY SEEN OUTSIDE OF THE MILITARY. THE POLICE WERE SHOCKED TO SEE THAT KIND OF GUN IN THE HANDS OF BANK ROBBERS. AND THAT WAS BEFORE THEY REALIZED THE SUSPECTS ALSO HAD HOMEMADE BOMBS.

Detective: Where did you guys get the materials for the bombs and so on you were throwin' at the patrol units? George: Uh I made 'em out of uh glass and powder. Detective:How did you make 'em?

George:Uh I got uh crushed glass, lead slugs, nails

AFTER THE ARREST, LAW ENFORCEMENT WOULD RECOVER TWO PACKED NYLON DUFFEL BAGS GEORGE HAD PREPARED FOR THE ROBBERY. IN THEM THEY WOULD FIND MAPS, A COMPASS, WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS, MESS KITS, GAS MASKS, EMERGENCY BLANKETS, EXTRA CLOTHING, A KNIFE, TWO MACHETES, AND EVEN A SAMURAI SWORD.

GEORGE WOULD SAY HE WAS JUST BEING “OVERCAUTIOUS”

George: I just got overcautious on the - the whole plan in itself was to roll in and roll out and it didn't happen that way.

HE SAYS THE PLAN ITSELF WAS TO ROLL IN AND ROLL OUT BUT IT DIDN’T HAPPEN THAT WAY.

MUSIC [trumpets]

PART 1

Andrew:Can you hear me?
ASC: Yeah I can hear, can you hear me? Hi, Andrew. Andrew: Good, how about yourself?

DEPUTY SHERIFF ANDREW DELGADO-MONTI WOULD BE THE SECOND OFFICER ON THE SCENE THE DAY OF THE BANK ROBBERY.

TALKING TO ANDREW, YOU REALIZE HE IS THE KIND OF MAN WHO MAKES NO EFFORT TO HIDE THE CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER.

Andrew: I don't deny what I know now.
HERE’S HOW HE TALKED TO ME ABOUT HIS POLICE TRAINING DAYS

ASC: Did you make friends along the way? Andrew:Sure,enemies too.

ANDREW IS MEXICAN AMERICAN, AND HE FEELS HIS IDENTITY HAS A LOT TO DO WITH HOW HE’S BEEN TREATED.

Andrew: You make an enemy when you first walk in the door if you look like me..

GROWING UP, HE WAS RAISED BY MIGRANT FARMWORKERS.

ASC:When you were a kid - like if somebody was looking at your kindergarten class photo, who are you in your class?

Andrew: Well, I was always the smallest guy around. Stuff started when I went to school, started in kindergarten. And I remember that very clearly actually. But I've always been, I'm five foot four, small guy.

EVEN THOUGH HE GREW UP IN EAST LA, HE WAS OFTEN ONE OF THE ONLY KIDS WHO LOOKED LIKED HIM IN HIS CLASSROOMS OF THE LATE 50S AND EARLY 60S.

Andrew:And people who were, you know, not the nicest on the planet to minority kids.

KIDS WOULD PICK FIGHTS WITH ANDREW, CALL HIM RACIAL SLURS.

DURING THIS TIME, WHEN HE FELT LIKE THE ODD KID OUT, HE WOULD LOOK FORWARD TO WHEN HIS UNCLES WHO WERE IN THE MILITARY WOULD COME VISIT. MEN WHO LOOKED LIKE HIM BUT CLEARLY BELONGED TO SOMETHING. SOMETHING BIGGER.

Andrew: Well, they looked special. One would come in and he had his uniform on he'd be wearing his ribbons and he just looked like a million dollars and so neat and clean and impressive in his uniform. I thought, oh, you know, I want to be that someday.

AND HE WOULD - AT 18, ANDREW JOINED THE MARINES. BUT AFTER 4 YEARS, HE DECIDED HE WANTED TO SETTLE DOWN. AND WHEN THINKING ABOUT WHAT TO DO NEXT, HIS FIRST THOUGHT WAS TO CONTINUE TO WORK IN THE SERVICE, TO BECOME A POLICE OFFICER.

Andrew: However, I didn't think that was ever going to happen but that’s what I wanted. Because typically if you look historically at police work, you know, the typical big Irish cop pinchin the apples on his foot beat. That's what what police work was, big white males. That’s what it was all about.

ACCORDING TO ANDREW, IN THE LATE 70S, JUST ONE LATINO OFFICER IN A DEPARTMENT WAS AN ANOMALY. AND TO AN EXTENT THIS IS STILL TRUE TODAY, A RECENT STUDY SHOWED THAT PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE UNDERREPRESENTED NATIONALLY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. LATINOS MAKE UP JUST 12% OF THE POLICE FORCE AND OF ALL THE ETHNIC GROUPS, ARE THE MOST DISPROPORTIONATELY UNDERREPRESENTED.

Andrew: Women were actually the ones that opened the door for me to become a law enforcement officer. In that there was a lawsuit for having a height requirement that was discriminatory against women because women are typically shorter than men. A lot of police departments, sheriff's departments you had to be like 5'10. And so throughout the country, in California, they started lowering that heighth requirement to the point where they finally eliminated it. And then when that happened, that opened the door for me.

[Music]
ANDREW OFFICIALLY BECAME A POLICE OFFICER IN 1974. [Music]

Andrew: And I remember suiting up, putting on my sheriff's uniform and my Sam Brown, my gun belt, etc., you know my stuff and taking it out to my car and get my shotgun ready. And all the stuff that I trained was trained to do. And then I was what we call Ten8, which means that's a ten code for inservice. And I thought I’m really driving around in a cop car and I’m a cop! And I thought that was pretty cool.

ANDREW ENDED UP IN THE RIVERSIDE SHERIFF’S OFFICE.

HIS DEPARTMENT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR A HUGE SWATCH OF LAND- MORE THAN 7 THOUSAND SQUARE MILES THAT INCLUDED EVERYTHING FROM WILDERNESS AREAS, TO INDIAN RESERVATION, SMALL DESERT TOWNS LIKE NORCO, AND LARGE FARMLANDS.

IT COULD BE A LONELY JOB- THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT HAD A STRICT ONE COP PER CAR REGULATION. THERE WERE DAYS ANDREW WOULD DRIVE FOR MILES SEEING ONLY A COUPLE COWS OR HORSES.

ANDREW DROVE AROUND THE COUNTY ARMED WITH A SHOTGUN ON HIS DASHBOARD AND A SIDEARM THAT WAS STANDARD. AND BEFORE MAY 9TH 1980, HE THOUGHT THAT GUN WAS ENOUGH. IT WASN’T THE MOST POWERFUL GUN ON THE MARKET, BUT HE LIKED THE FEEL OF IT.

IT WAS ANOTHER ESSENTIAL PART OF HIS GET UP.

ASC: I've seen the pictures and there are a lot of mustaches and bellbottoms. So I am also curious, just like how it looked? But yeah, what was the whole feeling at the time?

Andrew: Well, you know, at the time I had a long hair, longer hair any way. Seemed like all the cops and firefighters as well. We all had mustaches. The culture was in society at that time... I think that was back in the day of Saturday Night Fever. You know John Travolta and all that.

EVEN WITH HIS MATCHING MOUSTACHE, ANDREW HAD TROUBLE FITTING IN WITH THE OTHER POLICE OFFICERS.

A COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE THE BANK ROBBER,Y THE OTHER COPS INVITED HIM TO A PARTY. ANDREW HAD BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO A LAID BACK NIGHT.

Andrew: And we're going to watch Animal House. John Belushi, if you remember that movie or not.
ASC:Yes.
Andrew:It's a funny movie.

Toga party clip
BUT WHEN ANDREW GOT THERE, THINGS FELT REALLY OFF.

Andrew: There are like six or seven deputies in there. One of them is a guy that he and I just did not get along and he was very vocal about that.

     And here’s these guys all sitting on a couch they’re all
     drinking a beer.

They got a porn movie going on. ASC:Oh my gosh

Andrew: In living room there. And the guy that I was having a problem with, his seven year old kid, was sitting in front of that TV watching a porn movie with the rest of these guys. And they're all hootin and all that. And I look at these guys and I saw that guy and I saw that kid, I chugged my beer, I looked at Fred I said, I got to go, man. Actually I really can't stay. Goodbye, see you. And that guy starts spouting off, calling me names, calling me a wetback dumb Mexican. Nobody liked me. Nobody likes Mexicans. I said, let's go outside, let’s go out on patio out here, pal. And everybody poured out. And this sad commentary for me and reflection, not one of those deputy sheriffs that was there told that guy to stop saying those things. That he shouldn't say those things to me or anybody. And he called me everything racial you can imagine related to derogatory, related to a Latino, Hispanic. They didn't tell him to stop. They weren't concerned about it. But they wanted to see us fight. So we went outside. We're standing on this porch, and he started with the name calling again. So I turned around and I dropped him. I punched him and knocked him off the porch. And then I went down there and he got up and I proceeded to kick his ass all over that patio.

MUSIC

ASC: What made you want to stay in an organization that you immediately knew was racist or discriminatory?

Andrew: I was determined not to allow anybody to run me out of something that I wanted. I was not going to let anybody take money out of my pocket. I was supporting my family with that job. Just because they didn’t like the way I look or more importantly, perhaps because I didn’t look like them.

ANDREW WAS WORRIED HE WOULD BE PUNISHED BY THE HIGHER UPS. BEATING UP A FELLOW COP COULD BE THE CAUSE OF SUSPENSION. HE LAID LOW FOR THE NEXT COUPLE WEEKS.

AFTER TWO WEEKS OF SILENCE HE STARTED TO FORGET ABOUT THE WHOLE INCIDENT. THAT IS UNTIL MAY 8TH, 1980, THE DAY BEFORE THE ROBBERY, WHEN THE RIVERSIDE DEPUTY CHIEF STOPPED ANDREW IN THE HALLWAY.

Andrew:He says, I want you in my office tomorrow, 7:30 A.M. sharp. You got it. It's personal. So I show up the next morning instead of the deputy chief it’s the sheriff waiting out there for me. I was waiting out in the lobby. Turned out I was getting promoted.

IT WAS A HUGE RELIEF. HE WASN’T IN TROUBLE AND HE WAS GOING TO ACCOMPLISH A LONG TIME GOAL OF HIS - TO BE A DETECTIVE.

Andrew:Told my wife about it. I just been telling her the night before, I didn’t think I was ever going to get promoted. I was pretty happy about that

ANDREW FELT A LIGHTNESS THAT DAY, AS HE WORKED HIS TRAFFIC PATROL IN DOWNTOWN NORCO. HIS FELLOW PATROLMAN, CHUCK HILLE, ASKED TO GET A COFFEE AT THE END OF THEIR SHIFT.

Andrew: Chuck was single and he was kind of a ladies man, he was a good looking guy. And I knew he had a little girlfriend or a girl that he liked at the Winchell’s, of all places, you know, cops and Winchells.

WINCHELL’S IS A POPULAR DONUT CHAIN IN CALIFORNIA.

Andrew: Well, you wanna go to Winchell's and he goes no no, there's another donut shop there called the Donut Corral. I said, okay. So we went over there and we parked under a tree there. And then we got some coffee, came back out to our cars, are standing next to our patrol cars talking, talking about life and our days back in the desert.

ANDREW LOOKED OUT OVER THE MAIN STREET OF DOWNTOWN NORCO. IN MANY WAYS IT LOOKED LIKE MAIN STREETS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY: A SLEW OF FAST FOOD CHAINS, GAS STATIONS, AND SUPERMARKETS. BUT BEHIND ALL THIS, IN EVERY DIRECTION ANDREW TURNED, HE COULD SEE THE SLOPING DESERT MOUNTAINS - THE LOOMING RUGGED WESTERN LANDSCAPE.

Andrew:So we're back there he goes, hey what's going on with you? Are you sick or what? You haven't done anything all day.

     I couldn't help myself and I told Chuck, I said, hey, I got
     promoted to investigators this morning. He congratulated me
     and he told me that I was a good cop and that he was glad
     that I got promoted.

ASC:You didn’t know it at the time but you were really close to where the robbers were at that moment.

Andrew: Two blocks east one block north of the bank. We obviously had no clue that those guys were about to do that.

CLICKER

Time time

Clicker going out

George: I should’ve made it a minute and 30 instead of 2 minutes. I f***d up.

BEEP

Radio: Riverside to Norco units. Have a 211 in progress. Security Pacific Bank at 4th and Hammner

MEANWHILE, THE ROBBERS, MONEY IN HAND, WERE EXITING THROUGH THE DOUBLE DOORS OF THE BANK.

BY CHANCE, AN OFFICER, DEPUTY SHERRIFF GLENN BOLASKY< WAS AROUND THE CORNER, WHEN THE POLICE DISPATCH WENT OUT. TWO SECONDS LATER, HE WAS WAS ON THE SCENE.

THE ROBBERS DOVEINTO THE SEVENTIES-STYLE VAN THEY HAD STOLEN EARLIER, AS THE OFFICER DROVE INTO THE BUSY BANK PARKING LOT.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT IS DEBATED - BUT MOST WITNESSES WOULD LATER TESTIFY THAT THE ROBBERS BEGAN FIRING ON THE OFFICER THE MOMENT HE DROVE UP,

THE OFFICER TRIED TO STAY LOW IN HIS SEAT WHILE YANKING HIS CAR INTO REVERSE, BACKWARDS OUT OF THE LOT AND INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. THEN HE GRABBED HIS SHOTGUN.

ONLY 21 SECONDS AFTER THE DISPATCH CAL WENT OUT, THE FIREFIGHT HAD BEGUN..

Radio Traffic: I’ve been shot 4th and Hammner
ANDREW AND HIS FELLOW PATROLMAN HEARD THE FIRST OFFICER ON THE

RADIO

Andrew: We threw our coffee down and we jumped in our cars. ANDREW SLAMMED ON HIS GAS PEDAL HEADING TOWARDS THE BANK.

Radio Traffic: I been hit!

Andrew: Terrifying, radio broadcast. And I'm thinking, holy cow. He's had it. I'm thinking I’m gonna get these guys, they’re not gonna get away.

Radio: I need help! Ambulance responding.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK

PART 2

THE FIRST OFFICER AT THE SCENE HAD BEEN SHOT.

Radio Traffic: Riverside to all Units. Units at the location are being fired upon. Unit’s been hit.

HE WAS ALSO SHOOTING BACK. BACK TOWARDS THE VAN WITH GEORGE AND THE ROBBERS WHO WERE TRYING TO ESCAPE THE BANK PARKING LOT.

ALL THE WHILE, GARY HAKALA, THE KIDNAPPED OWNER OF THE VAN, IS STILL TIED UP IN HIS VEHICLE’S CLOSET.

Gary:When they got in the van, the sound is echoing. And, you know, there was a three ‘08 high caliber rifle inches from my ear. Things got real loud. I can hear the bullets hit the van. The shots coming from.. I didn’t know who it was, a cop or a security guard. But I can hear the little pops coming from from his revolver.

THE SUSPECT DRIVING THE VAN MANAGED TO GET OUT OF THE PARKING LOT AND ONTO THE ROAD, STILL TAKING BULLETS.

Gary:The van speeds off and does a U-turn. I can hear breaking glass in the van. Every piece of glass is shattered. The rearview mirror, the side mirrors. There's not a piece of glass left in the van. And all of a sudden the shotgun blast comes through the window. It missed me by an eighth of an inch and my face is pressed against the side of the door to the closet. I can feel the van all of a

     sudden decelerate. One pellet from that shotgun, broke the
     neck of the driver and he slumps forward and we crash into
     something which I can see at the back is a chain link
     fence.

Radio Traffic: The suspects are stranded! The vehicle’s disabled. At Hamner and 4th!

THE DRIVER WAS WOUNDED, BUT IT WASN’T CLEAR IF THE SHOT HAD KILLED HIM. THE OTHER SUSPECTS FILED OUT OF THE VAN AND CONTINUED TO FIRE AT THE FIRST POLICE OFFICER.

ANDREW - WHO WAS RUSHING TO THE SCENE FROM THE DONUT CORRAL - FINALLY TURNED ONTO THE STREET OF THE BANK.

Andrew: And as we’re getting closer. I'm within a half a block of the bank.

BUT AT FIRST HE COULDN’T SEE THE ROBBERS OR THE FIRST OFFICER ON THE SCENE WHO CONTINUED TO YELL IN PAIN OVER THE RADIO.

Radio Traffic: I’m bleeding real bad! I got an artery hit. I need help!

Andrew:I got the radio where are they?
That's when I saw them. And that's when I heard the gunfire.

WHEN ANDREW GOT TO THE SCENE. THE VAN WAS STILL REVVING INTO THE CHAIN LINK FENCE. THE DRIVER SLUMPED IN THE FRONT SEAT.

Andrew: Traffic was backed up at the intersection. Nobody was going through the intersection because of all this.

IT WAS A BUSY INTERSECTION WITH A FEEDSTORE FOR HORSES AND A CARL’S JR.

Andrew: The people were lined up like they were watching a movie.

AFTER THE FOUR REMAINING ROBBERS HAD FILED OUT OF THE VAN, THEY HAD NOT LOST TRACK OF THE FIRST OFFICER WHO CONTINUED TO SHOOT TOWARDS THEM FROM BEHIND HIS CAR.

Andrew: They were taking turns, rotating, shooting at Bolasky.

THE SUSPECTS WERE DUCKING BEHIND THE VAN DOORS AND POPPING BACK UP. A MANEUVER ANDREW RECOGNIZED FROM HIS MILITARY TRAINING.

Andrew: They didn’t hear me come up because I had turned off my siren.

QUICKLY, ANDREW’S CAR SCREECHED TO A HALT.

Andrew:I jumped out my shotgun, and I fired four shotgun blast into this group of men for about 40 yards away or so. And I thought, well, this is over. They're not surviving four shotgun blast going at them. Well, nobody fell down. and one of them turned around. The point guy at the front of the van pointed at me. And I knew there were starts shooting at me.

music

FOUR MEN, ARMED WITH A SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS TURNED THEIR ATTENTION ON ANDREW. THINKING AS FAST AS HE COULD, ANDREW STARTED TO WEIGH HIS ODDS.

Andrew: I didn't think I was going to survive with all these guys with all these guns.

HE HAD NEVER SEEN ANYONE OUT IN THE FIELD WITH AS MUCH FIREPOWER AS THESE MEN. HIS HAND GUN SEEMED PUNY COMPARED TO THEIR AR-15S.

HE DOVE ON THE GROUND AND SCRAMBLED UNDERNEATH HIS PATROL CAR. HE CONTINUED TO SHOOT IN THEIR DIRECTION. AS HE CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT HE WAS GOING TO DIE, ANDREW’S MIND WENT TO SOMETHING MUNDANE.

Andrew:I was laying on the ground and it was payday. And we got paid with paper checks back then. And I had mine in my left breast pocket.

     And while I was reloading my shotgun I was actually
     thinking, the detectives are going to be going through my
     pockets which they do when someone is lying there dead.
     they're going to find my paycheck. And that they're going
     to have to send it back to payroll and have another one
     issued for my wife. I mean, I thought that very quickly.

BUT SUDDENLY A GLIMMER OF HOPE- BACKUP

Andrew: I see a black and white a sheriff's car.

IT WAS THE OTHER PATROLMAN ANDREW HAD JUST BEEN HAVING COFFEE WITH, CHUCK HILLE. THEY HAD SPLIT UP ON THE WAY TO THE SCENE, TAKING DIFFERENT ROADS, IN ORDER TO POTENTIALLY CUT OFF THE SUSPECTS.

Andrew: He came up. He turned right into that for that feed store, made a U-turn, drove back across fourth.

HE HAD TURNED AROUND AND WAS GOING TOWARDS THE FIRST OFFICER WHO HAD BEEN SHOT.

HE WASN’T COMING TO COVER ANDREW.

Andrew: A lot of mixed emotions going on and about like that. I was very happy about saving his life or at least trying to. But I was certain that I was not going to survive.

MEANWHILE, THE SUSPECTS WERE HURTING. NOTHING HAD GONE TO PLAN. GEORGE SMITH WOULD LATER TELL THE DETECTIVE, ANDREW HAD SUCCESSFULLY SHOT THREE OF THEM.

George: We were catching bullets from all angles. I got hit, uh Manny got knicked in the face, and Russ got knicked.

HE SAYS ANDREW’S BULLETS WERE HITTING THEM FROM ALL ANGLES. AND WITH THEIR VAN TOTALED, THEY KNEW THEIR ONLY PATH FOR ESCAPE WAS STEALING ANOTHER CAR.

Detective: You abandoned the van. Right? Tell me how you got the second vehicle.
George:We ran up there and - and just uh told the man to get out of the - get out of the truck or get his head blown off in that respect.

     We wouldn't have blown his head off though.

MIKE LINVILLE WAS A 24 YEAR OLD MECHANIC. HE WAS ON HIS WAY HOME AND STOPPED AT A LIGHT WHEN HE SAW THE GREEN VAN CRASH INTO THE CHAIN LINK FENCE. HE REALIZED HE WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIREFIGHT,

Mike: Pretty crazy situation, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about much. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. bullets were ricocheting off of my truck.

MIKE CAUGHT GLIMPSES OF THE ROBBERS WHILE TRYING TO KEEP HIS HEAD DOWN.

Mike: They were all wearing ski masks in army fatigues. You know.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, MIKE SAW ONE OF THE SUSPECTS SPOT

Mike: Iwas looking up over the top of the dash, just my eyeballs, you know. I locked eyes with this one guy and he was a pretty good sized guy and he had his rifle up in the air at that point.

BUT THEN THE SUSPECT LOWERED IT AND POINTED IT TOWARDS MIKE AS HE STARTED TO CHARGE TOWARDS HIM.

Mike: Imean I already seen these guys shoot it out with the coppers.
I knew he wasn’t going to open the door and ask me if I wanted to loan him the truck. I threw my door open. I went out the driver door and they were coming in the passenger door.

THE SUSPECTS HIJACKED MIKE’S YELLOW TRUCK.

Mike: Irolled out onto the pavement and took off running. I stopped and looked back and those guys were loading bags of bombs and ammunition and guns and everything else into the truck. Then they smashed into the car in front of me and blasted their way out of the intersection.

BEFORE THE ROBBERY, THE SUSPECTS HAD SET UP TWO OTHER GETAWAY CARS, JUST A COUPLE BLOCKS AWAY FROM THE BANK.

IF THEY COULD GET THERE, THEY COULD STILL ESCAPE. BUT AS THEY LOOKED TO EXIT THE INTERSECTION, THERE WAS ONE THING IN THEIR WAY: ANDREW.

Andrew: So here they come. There was no cover. As they got alongside me, and I put my head under the left rear tire.

WHEN WE HEAR ANDREW TALK ABOUT THIS WHOLE SCENE TODAY - 40 YEARS LATER - HE’S ALMOST CLINICAL ABOUT IT. THERE’S AN EMOTIONAL DISTANCE. BUT AT THE TIME, ON THE RADIO TRAFFIC, HE SOUNDED TERRIFIED.

Radio Traffic: 251 - three suspects fled a yellow pick up north of Hamner.

THEY ACCELERATED IN HIS DIRECTION, GUNS POINTED. ANDREW TOOK STOCK OF HIS SITUATION AND HIS SURROUNDINGS AS HE PREPARED FOR IMPACT. THE FOUR SUSPECTS IN THE YELLOW PICK UP TRUCK WERE DRIVING STRAIGHT TOWARD HIM.

Andrew: I figured I might be able survive a hit in a body. But then I had a vest on, but it wouldn't work with those rifles. I saw them stop​ ​and I said, well, if I see any feet, I'll come out and we'll just have to go toe to toe. I had six rounds in my handgun and I'll just shoot as many of them as I can before they kill me. But I'm not going to let them walk over there and shoot laying on the ground in that car. So they stopped, fired my car up, fired me up, you

     know, fired up the patrol car and the ground around me.
     They didn't know where I was at. Which was good. It was, I
     think, pretty obvious at that point that they thought I did
     some kind of disappearing act, which I did. And then they
     took off.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK PART 3 BREAK

RELIEF WASHED OVER ANDREW. THE ROBBERS WERE GONE AND HE WAS ALIVE. BUT THE RELIEF WAS MET WITH ANOTHER FAMILIAR SENSATION, THAT OF RESENTMENT, RESENTMENT TOWARDS HIS FELLOW OFFICERS.

Andrew: And I believe then and I believe now that they left me there to die. They weren't willing to fight to the death. In the middle of a fight. You don't leave until the fights over. No matter who's hurt.

     That's when you leave. Then you go out and help people that
     are hurt. Whatever. But you don't leave.

THE OTHER TWO OFFICERS FROM THE SCENE DID NOT WANT TO BE INTERVIEWED ON TAPE. BUT CHUCK HILLE DID TELL US “I’M SORRY ANDY STILL FEELS THAT WAY. WE NEVER MADE A DECISION TO LEAVE HIM ALONE, BUT IN THE END WE PROBABLY DID.”

ASC: You feel like the Brotherhood kind of let you down?

Andrew: I felt that the brotherhood of police work is there. But not what I thought it was. Why do Marines do what they do in combat? Is it for God, country, corps? It's for each other. I impose that belief value on policework.

Music

Andrew: We’re not a brotherhood. When it comes down to it, you know, and the odds are in our favor, you can expect the cops to be around. But if the scales get tipped a little bit then you’re gonna be on your own. In this case, the

     scales were very much on the bad guy side, because there’s
     more than there was of us. And they had bigger, badder
     weapons and they were using them.

ANDREW SAYS THIS BANK ROBBERY IN NORCO IS WHEN HE CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT HIS GUNS WEREN’T ENOUGH TO PROTECT HIM. HE TOLD ME, IF THERE’S NO ONE ELSE TO BACK YOU UP, ALL YOU HAVE IS YOUR WEAPON.

Andrew: We need to have better firepower than the bad guys. The odds have to be in our favor.

MUSIC

ANDREW WAS STILL PROCESSING WHAT HAD JUST HAPPENED TO HIM AS MORE OFFICERS FINALLY ARRIVED ON SCENE.

MEANWHILE, SOMEONE ELSE, VERY CLOSE BY WAS ALSO FEELING FORGOTTEN.

Detective:Where was the guy that owned the van all this time?
George:Tied up.
Detective: Tied up where?

George:In the - in his um cabinet. GARY HAKALA WAS STILL IN THE BACK OF THE VAN

Gary: I'm alone in the van rocking back and forth. There was guns all over the place on the floor. There was homemade bombs. There was money on the floor.

THE ROBBERS HAD​ ​MANAGED TO TAKE ABOUT TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM THE BANK -- AND THEY’D LEFT IT - SPREAD OUT ALL OVER THE BACK OF THE VAN.

Gary: Ijust kind of think “oh gee, sure like to put some of that money in my pockets,” but obviously, I, I couldn't do that.

     And I had held my composure as long as I could at that
     point. I break out of that closet and I see the driver
     slumped over and he's not dead. People don't die like they
     do in the movies. They sometimes hang on for a while, and
     he was sort of gurgling and shaking, going through a sort
     of his body was sort of trembling. He could easily reach a
     couple of handguns and finish me off. I struggle to look
     out the back window of the van. And by now there are
     numerous police across the street with their guns pointed
     at the van.

ONE OF THOSE OFFICERS WAS ANDREW.

Andrew: We're still watching his van. It's sitting there and it starts to move. Starts to roll backwards a little bit and off to the left. Well I thought the suspect was in there trying to get away. So I jumped up and we waited and I had my shotgun nose pointed at where all put our guns down there. Next thing we know, a man appears in the passenger door window and he's shouting and I can't understand him. And he's yelling and yelling.

Gary: I'm a hostage. I'm a hostage. I need help. I was a little disappointed I didn't get help, and I think about going out the back window. Well, I'm taped up. I'm going to break my neck trying to get out. So I go to the side door and I use my teeth and slide that cargo door open. The van’s still moving back and forth. And I roll out of the van. I roll on the ground.

Andrew:He had his hands tied behind his back, taped behind his back...and his legs taped together like a mummy.

Gary: And I can't really roll because my shoulder’s in such pain. So I'm kind of crawling like a like a caterpillar, you know, with my my chin and my my knees as best I can. They're people looking out the window of the restaurant and you know, no one's going to come help me. But finally, this lady cop comes and tells me to get down and I said forget you just get this tape off of me. You know, it hurts so

     bad, you know, that you're numb. Again, I'm going to
     reiterate, I had to pee, so she gets the tape off and
     course I relieve myself in front of all those people, I
     didn't care at that point.

GARY GOT INTO THE OFFICER’S CAR AND WAS DRIVEN AWAY TO GIVE HIS TESTIMONY.

MUSIC

THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE ROBBERS AND THE POLICE WAS ONLY GETTING STARTED. BUT THERE WAS ALREADY IRREVOCABLE LOSS.

Detective: Who got killed at the bank? George: Billy.
Detective: Billy? What was his last name? George: Delgado. Billy Delgado?

THE GETAWAY DRIVER, A 17 YEAR OLD BOY NAMED BELISARIO DELGADO, WHO EVERYONE CALLED BILLY, WAS DEAD.

Detective: He was the driver of the van? George: And one of my best friends. Yes.

NEXT WEEK ON NORCO80 ---

Chris: Nobody’s heard our side of the story. WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE ROBBERY.

Lani:They were digging a tunnel for the purpose of if a bomb hits or something like that...yeah! They would talk about stuff like that. They would talk about how it’s coming to an end.

Norco 80 is written and produced by me, Antonia Cereijido and by Sophia Paliza Carre.

The show is a production of LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios.

Leo G is the executive producer for LAist Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios.

Audrey Quinn our editor

Joaquin Cotler is our Associate Producer. Juan Diego Ramirez is our Production Assistant.

Marialexa Kavanaugh is our intern.

Fact checking by Amy Tardif.

Engineering by Stephanie Lebow and Julia Caruso.

Original music by Zach Robinson.

This podcast is based on the book Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan

Our website s designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios.

The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding.

Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including: Kristen Hayford, Taylor Coffman, Kristen Muller, and Leo G.

If you want to hear more about Norco ‘80 please follow or subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, the iHeart App or wherever you get your podcasts.And don’t forget to rate and review the show!

end

EPISODE 1Chapter 1: The Robbery
May 9th, 1980 began as a regular Friday in sleepy Norco, a small town about 48 miles east of Los Angeles, known mostly for its horse trails and old-western look. But around 3:30pm, five masked men with assault rifles robbed the Security Pacific Bank downtown. Norco ‘80 is produced by LAist Studios in collaboration with Futuro Studios. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
icon2 Episode Details

NORCO 80 EPISODE 1: THE ROBBERY

A QUICK WARNING:
SOME OF THIS SERIES INCLUDES DESCRIPTIONS OF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE.

Officer: What's your full name? George: George Smith - Wayne Smith.

ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, A BLEEDING MAN CRAWLS FROM THE SCRAGGLY BRUSH. A HELICOPTER HOVERS ABOVE.

Officer: Okay. You - you're aware I'm tape recording the conversation right? Okay, he nodded his head.
Do you realize that you have a bullet in your back?
There's a possibility that you may die. Do you realize that?

George: Yeah.
Officer: With that in mind, do you wanna tell me anything about what happened?

AN OFFICER CUFFS THE MAN AND A DETECTIVE FLIPS ON A TAPE RECORDER. .

Detective: Did you get in a shootout with the cops in a bank in Norco? The Security Pacific Bank? How many of you were there?
George: Five.
Detective: What were their names?

George: Chris, Bill, Manny, George and Russ.

GEORGE SMITH IS THE FIRST SUSPECT FROM THE BANK ROBBERY THAT THE POLICE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CAPTURE AND QUESTION. HE’S BEEN SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES.

George: I got three in my leg
Detective: Three rounds in your leg?
George: Yeah.
Detective: Where did you get the 3 rounds in your leg? George: At the bank

THE DETECTIVE IS WALKING GEORGE DOWN THE HILL TO A HELICOPTER.

Detective: We are going to do what we can George. But the helicopter can’t land here and we’ve got quite a ways to walk to get to where you can be picked up, do

you understand that? George: Oh goodness

THERE’S A DANGER GEORGE COULD PASS OUT BEFORE HE GIVES A FULL CONFESSION.

Detective: George, what's your full name? Come on, what's your full name?
George: George Wayne Smith.
Detective: How old are you George? George: I'm 27 years old.

Detective: Tell 'em where you're from George. George: Casper, Wyoming. Uh, no more questions.

Music

IT’S MAY 10, 1980. THE DAY AFTER ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE STANDOFFS THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS EVER SEEN. AND IT ALL BEGAN WHEN GEORGE SMITH AND FOUR OTHER MEN TRIED TO PULL OFF A BANK ROBBERY IN NORCO, CALIFORNIA.

BUT THINGS WOULD QUICKLY GO SIDEWAYS.

Detective: Do you know that an officer has been killed?
I'm telling you now an officer has been killed and you'll be taken into custody in San Bernardino County for the murder of one officer. Did you see them kill the officer?
George: NO - I.
Detective: Did you fire at any officers in this canyon area?

Officer: Testing 1-2-3

THAT SAME DAY, POLICE WOULD QUESTION A SECOND SUSPECT. A MAN NAMED CHRIS HARVEN.

Detective: You willing to talk to us about it?
Chris: Whatever I can tell you
Detective: You can probably tell us a whole lot then. Why don’t you start from the beginning, then.

Chris: You mean how the whole thing started?
Detective: Yeah. There ain’t no place like the beginning, right?

WITHOUT EVEN ASKING FOR A LAWYER, THESE GUYS JUST SPILL EVERYTHING: THEY GET STRAIGHT INTO THE DETAILS. THE GETAWAY CAR THEY USED, THE WEAPONS THEY BOUGHT, THE BOMBS THEY MADE, EVEN THE DRUGS THEY CONSUMED BEFORE THE ROBBERY.

Chris: We smoked a lot of pot and drank a lot of booze. That’s the only way I could handle it.
Detective: And how much marijuana did you smoke?
Chris: As much as we could.

[tape recorder restarts]
Stupid. I can’t deny anything about it. The whole thing is stupid.

IN THESE TAPES, YOU CAN HEAR THAT THE ROBBERS ARE STILL PROCESSING WHAT THEY JUST DID. LIKE WHEN A DETECTIVE ASKS CHRIS HARVEN IF THEY HAD PRACTICED THE ROBBERY AHEAD OF TIME.

Detective: Had you guys rehearsed the operation? Chris: No rehearsal.
Detective: Well it went pretty smoothly for no rehearsal. Chris: Smoothly?!

Detective: I mean, you guys went in there like a bunch of professionals from what I understand.
Chris: I thought it was a botched job from the word go.

HE TELLS THE HOMICIDE DETECTIVE - IT WAS “A BOTCHED JOB FROM THE WORD GO.”

Chris: Everything we would have expected to go wrong went wrong.... you know everything that I said would go wrong went wrong.

Theme Music

I’M ANTONIA CEREIJIDO, AND FROM LAIST STUDIOS AND FUTURO STUDIOS THIS IS NORCO80, A SERIES ABOUT ONE OF THE MOST VIOLENT BANK ROBBERIES IN U.S. HISTORY

MUSIC
IN THIS SERIES, WE LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY IN MAY OF 1980, AND WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AFTER ALL THE GUNSMOKE CLEARED AWAY.

IT’S A STORY THAT BRINGS UP A LOT OF QUESTIONS — QUESTIONS THAT STILL FEEL PRESENT TODAY. AROUND ACCESS TO GUNS, THE PURPOSE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SOCIETY, AND THE SEDUCTIVENESS OF SURVIVALISM.

AND WE’RE GONNA LOOK AT HOW THE SHOCK OF THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY WOULD SPREAD FROM A SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TO POLICE ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY... AND PUSHED POLICE TO DEMAND BIGGER, MORE POWERFUL WEAPONS. AND HOW THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE KIND OF POLICING WE’RE STILL GRAPPLING WITH TODAY.

BUT ABOVE ALL, WE ARE GOING TO TELL THE STORY OF HOW FIVE DISAFFECTED YOUNG MEN MADE A PLAN THAT WENT SPECTACULARLY WRONG.

George: The officer wasn’t supposed to happen. Billy wasn’t supposed to happen. None of that was supposed to happen, I f***d up.

MUSIC OUT

THE YEAR OF THE BANK ROBBERY–1980–WAS AN ANXIOUS TIME. THERE WAS A LOT GOING ON. VIOLET CRIME WAS ON THE RISE AND LIKE TODAY, THE ECONOMY WAS TAKING A NOSEDIVE, AND AN UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT WAS FINISHING OUT HIS FIRST AND LAST TERM...

News reel: In 1976 candidate carter promised to lead America to great new heights....In 3 1⁄2 years, millions of American workers find themselves out of work and confidence has fallen to the lowest levels in our nation’s history.

TODAY CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS WE LIVE WITH, BUT BACK THEN IT WAS THE COLD WAR.

Protesters: No nukes! No War!

NUCLEAR WEAPONS WERE A POTENTIAL WORLD-ENDING THREAT. AND IN A NATION PRIMED FOR AN APOCALYPSE, RELIGIOUS GROUPS PREACHING THE END TIMES WERE ATTRACTING FOLLOWERS.

Archival: The bible says in the twinkling of an eye millions of people will suddenly disappear...because the rapture will come and Christ will return [cymbal]

AS WE CLOSE OUT ON 2020, A TRYING YEAR TO SAY THE LEAST, IT’S INTERESTING TO LOOK BACK AT ANOTHER TIME WHEN PEOPLE FELT LIKE THE WORLD WAS ENDING. WHEN LIKE TODAY, IT FELT LIKE THERE WAS SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY IN THE AIR, AND ALL OF THESE THINGS, ALL OF THIS TENSION, WOULD COME TO A HEAD DURING THE NORCO BANK ROBBERY OF MAY 9, 1980.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK. MUSIC - BREAK

CHAPTER ONE, THE ROBBERY.

Detective: Do you remember me? From homicide?
George: Sure.
Detective: Okay. I'm gonna tape record our conversation again. Okay? George: Um hum.

ONCE THE HELICOPTER ARRIVED AT THE HOSPITAL, GEORGE SMITH WAS HOOKED UP TO AN IV AND A DETECTIVE CONTINUED TO QUESTION HIM.

Detective: How did you get the van?
George: Uh I didn't get it. I had uh Manny and Billy and Russ got it.

HE WALKED THE DETECTIVE THROUGH THE DAY OF THE ROBBERY. BEFORE THE MEN WOULD EVEN GET TO THE BANK, THEY NEEDED TO HIJACK A CAR. THE DETECTIVE ASKED THEM HOW THEY WOULD DO THAT.

Detective: How did they do that? Who did they kidnap? Do you know? George: The owner of the van.

GEORGE SAYS THEY HAD TO KIDNAP A MAN. [MUSIC BUMP]

IT WAS 1980, BUT GARY HAKALA’S VAN WAS HOLDING ON TO THE KITSCHY STYLE OF THE 1970S

Gary: it was just your typical 70s Dodge van. With the shag carpet on the floor. A bench seat all the way around with a closet on the driver’s side.

THE STORAGE CLOSET WAS ESPECIALLY HELPFUL. GARY USED THE VAN FOR HIS CANNING BUSINESS.

Gary: I was canning dehydrated food. I had a greenhouse with a thousand tomato plants going.

AT THE TIME BUSINESS WAS BOOMING. SOME WEEKS, IT BROUGHT IN AS MUCH AS A MILLION DOLLARS.

SO GARY WAS FEELING OPTIMISTIC ON A BRIGHT SUNNY DAY IN MAY, AS HE

DROVE ACROSS THE INLAND EMPIRE TO PICK UP SOME SUPPLIES

Gary: That day was had more things happen that, you know, where all the stars lined up for my benefit and all the stars lined up to work against me

THE INLAND EMPIRE IS A SPRAWLING REGION THE SIZE OF WEST VIRGINIA, STRETCHING ALL THE FROM THE BORDER OF LOS ANGELES TO AREAS AS FAR AS ARIZONA. UP UNTIL THE 1950S, IT WAS KNOWN MAINLY FOR IT’S ORANGE AND LEMON TREES.

Archival: Among California crops, citrus occupies one of the king spots.

BUT IN THE 1980S IT BECAME A DESTINATION SUBURB FOR FAMILIES AND SMALL BUSINESSES LIKE GARY’S. MORE SPACE AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE.

AROUND 11:30 THAT DAY, GARY MADE WHAT HE THOUGHT WOULD BE A QUICK STOP AT A SHOPPING MALL IN BREA, CALIFORNIA.

Gary: I've really got to go to the restroom, and as I am pulling to the parking lot there's a low rider. And there's three guys in there and they’re glaring at me. I was 35 years old and I thought it was quite a little rooster at the time. You know, I'd coached wrestling and wrestled a little in college. And I you know, I probably had a little inflated opinion of how bad I was. But, you know, I'm glaring back at ‘em. I pull around to park. And as I went to the back of the trailer, I had a huge master padlock.

GARY DECIDES TO LOCK UP THE VAN, JUST IN CASE

Gary: Well, as I went to the back of the van – there’s no windows in the back – this low rider pulls up to the side of the van. I didn't hear him and I turned around. And boom, three doors are open.

THREE MEN IN MILITARY FATIGUES JUMP OUT

Gary: And then I thought, well, the parking lot is full of people. I thought, well, I'm going to be OK if I'm calm and I don't agitate these people. I'll be OK.

That was wrong

NEXT THING GARY KNOWS, ONE OF THE MEN iS ON TOP OF HIM

Gary: He's a cracking my head with the gun. He has reinforced nylon tape. Almost impossible to break this stuff. And he tapes me from the wrists up to my elbows and my ankles to my knees. He puts a sack over my head.

A SECOND MAN JUMPS INTO GARY’S VAN.

Gary: I don't know why I said this, but I said take my glasses and put them in the glove compartment.

AND THEN A THIRD MAN JUMPS IN THE VAN AND STARTS TO HACK AT THE SHELVES INSIDE THE VAN CLOSET WITH A KNIFE.

Gary: There’re nails sticking out and splinters of wood. And he says, get in the closet. It's a foot wide. And I said, well, I can't fit in there. Puts the gun practically in my mouth. And it's surprising how small an area you can fit in when you have no options.

THE VAN TAKES OFF WITH GARY CRAMMED INTO THE BACK CLOSET

Gary: As, I'm in there, my shoulders under pressure, my testicles are getting smashed. Remember, I stopped by to pee and, you know, I've got to go to the bathroom. I'm getting cut up in there from the nails and broken stuff. I worked the sack off my head in there and I could see out the back window. I can smell the dairy farms. I'm trying to keep track of the turns so I can figure out where we're going. Pretty soon I'm I give up. I'm lost where we are.

THE VAN PULLS INTO WHAT GARY THINKS IS A CONSTRUCTION SITE WHERE HE SEES TWO OR THREE MORE PEOPLE IN THE SAME MILITARY FATIGUES AS HIS KIDNAPPERS.

Gary: I'm very I guess in some ways innocent person. But it was the first time I'd really smelled marijuana. One of them was on that. I remember the smell. And they started throwing things into the van. I could hear like nylon bags and so on. And I could feel the weight of the van go down under the weight. Then I hear the racking of rifle actions from my ear. It was semiautomatic rifle actions. As they're loading it up, my shoulder is under such immense pain. You know, I think it's out of the socket. My arms and legs have gone numb from the tape, I've got to pee so bad. I’m afraid if I wet my pants that’s all it’ll take to have them go off on me.

All of a sudden. We bounced off a curb and went across the street.

And, you know, it's a go, go, go. I can hear a kid scream. There's a door opens. I didn't know at that point it was the bank.

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK

WE’RE BACK.

IN THE 1980S, THE GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA WAS KNOWN AS THE BANK ROBBERY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. ACROSS THE COUNTRY, BANK ROBBERIES HAD GONE UP MORE THAN FIFTY PERCENT FROM 1975 TO 1980. AND ACCORDING TO AN FBI INVESTIGATOR, UP TO A THIRD OF BANK ROBBERIES HAPPENED IN LOS ANGELES. AND THERE WAS AN EASY EXPLANATION FOR THIS

Archival: More and more and more cars

THE CALIFORNIA FREEWAY SYSTEM. IT WAS UBIQUITOUS. CALIFORNIA’S POPULATION HAD BOOMED WITH THE ADVENT OF CAR CULTURE AND WHILE FREEWAYS MADE FOR A MUCH SPEEDIER COMMUTE, THEY ALSO ALLOWED FOR A MUCH QUICKER GET AWAY IF YOU WERE A ROBBER.

AND SOME OF THESE BANK ROBBERS WERE SO PROLIFIC, THEY EVEN GOT THEIR OWN NICKNAMES. LIKE THE “YANKEE BANDIT” WHO WAS KNOWN FOR WEARING A YANKEE CAP DURING HIS HEISTS. ONE TIME HE ROBBED 6 BANKS IN 4 HOURS.

AND YET, WHILE BANK ROBBERIES COMMONPLACE, MOST OF THEM WERE KIND OF UNEVENTFUL. A MAN DRESSED IN A SUIT OR UNASSUMING OUTFIT WOULD POLITELY TELL A BANK TELLER THAT HE HAD A GUN IN HIS POCKET AND THE TELLER WOULD HAND OVER A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS.

BUT THE BANK ROBBERY THAT GEORGE SMITH WOULD CARRY OUT WAS DIFFERENT.

IT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN LA IT HAPPENED IN NORCO, A SMALL TOWN IN THE INLAND EMPIRE ABOUT AN HOUR EAST OF LOS ANGELES.

AND IN 1980 THE TOWN DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A FREEWAY RUNNING THROUGH IT. IN FACT, LOCAL RESIDENTS HAD THEIR OWN UNIQUE WAY OF GETTING AROUND.

Sharon: Norco is a horse community. People came together and, you know, rode their horses

SHARON DICKENS WORKED AT THE LOCAL SECURITY PACIFIC BANK. LOCATED ON THE MAIN DRAG OF NORCO, A PLACE WITH MORE HORSE TRAILS THAN SIDEWALKS.

Sharon: I don't remember there being crime during that time. Everybody knew

everybody...

SHARON ACTUALLY KNEW GEORGE SMITH.

George Smith was one of our clients, was one of our customers. I knew him from the bank. He had real thick, curly hair and he wore glasses. If I had seen him walk through the door at the bank in his street clothes by himself, I probably would have said, “hi, George.”

BACK IN THE HOSPITAL THE DAY AFTER THE BANK ROBBERY, GEORGE WOULD TAKE THE DETECTIVE THROUGH THE ACTUAL HOLDUP.

Detective: Summarize how you guys planned it George: We planned on doing it on a Friday

GEORGE HAD PURPOSELY PICKED TO HIT THE BANK ON A FRIDAY. PAY DAY... SHARON DICKENS WAS WORKING THAT DAY AT THE BANK

Sharon: This Friday was not a typical Friday. In fact, we all talked about how strange it was. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. Normally the branch on a Friday would be jam packed. And it was not.

SHARON REMEMBERS IT WAS CASUAL FRIDAY AT THE SECURITY PACIFIC BANK. THE TELLERS WORE LEVI’S AND T-SHIRTS.

Sharon: We were all in the teller line, as we were expecting the crowd to come on Friday, and we heard this tremendous noise.

Sharon: What it was was the four of them hitting both of those double doors at one time.

GEORGE WAS THE TIME KEEPER. HE HAD A TIMER IN HIS HAND SET TO TWO MINUTES. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SECONDS. THAT’S HOW LONG HE FIGURED THEY HAD TO GET IN, GET THE MONEY, AND GET OUT BEFORE COPS WOULD ARRIVE.

Sharon: and it was like Time seemed to stand still for a minute, nobody moved, nobody said anything-until the command was given to hit the floor.

SHARON DROPPED TO THE GROUND BUT COULD STILL SEE THE ROBBERS.

Sharon: That’s when the suspects took their positions. One jumped up on the counter right in front of me. One stayed by the door

Officer Dvorak: Who stood by the door and called the time that you had? George: I did

SHARON DIDN’T RECOGNIZE GEORGE.

Sharon: They had military fatigues on, they had ponchos, ski masks, camouflage pants, boots, and BIG guns.

Officer: Did you guys have any machine guns? George: All AR'S.
Officer: AR15's?
George: Yeah.

Sharon: I did attempt to push my silent alarm, but the suspect who was on the counter in front of me said “if any effin’ alarms go off, the effing bullets are gonna fly.” so I said uh uh, I aint gonna be no hero.” And then he yelled to get up, and that’s when he threw the bag down in front of me and gave the command to everybody to empty their money into the bag.

George: 30 seconds left. At one minute and 30 seconds I said time 30 seconds.

THEY NEEDED TO BE OUT IN HALF A MINUTE. ONE OF THE ROBBERS DRAGGED THE BRANCH MANAGER TO THE BACK VAULT.

Sharon: At that time I heard one of the suspects yelling “time time.”

Officer: What did you say? George: Time, time.

Sharon: “We’re taking too much time.” So then I said to the suspect on the counter, “You want this? “ And he said, “yes, I want it.” So I took the bag from me and then he looked at me and he goes, “I want you on the floor.” So I sat down. And he said, “no, I want you face down.” And that is the only time that I thought, “this man's going to kill me.” Because he said it a couple of times. I want you face down on the floor. And the only thing I could think of at that time was my three girls being without a mother.

George: At 2 minutes I said time again and now Detective: then you guys all left the bank is that correct George: yes we did

Sharon: And then, they exited

GEORGE AND THE OTHERS HAD MADE IT OUT, MONEY IN HAND. IN TWO MINUTES, JUST LIKE GEORGE HAD PLANNED. NO ONE WAS HURT, NO ONE HAD DIED. THIS COULD’VE BEEN LIKE SO MANY OF THE OTHER BANK ROBBERIES AT THE TIME.

George: I should’ve made it a minute and 30 seconds instead of 2 minutes. I f***d up.

GEORGE TELLS THE DETECTIVE, I SHOULD’VE MADE IT A MINUTE AND 30 SECONDS INSTEAD OF TWO MINUTES. I F***D UP.

THE COPS HAD ALREADY ARRIVED.

Radio Traffic “I’ve been hit!”

NEXT TIME ON NORCO 80.

The cup would pull into the parking lot at the exact second that they came out and that’s where the gunfire erupted.

NORCO 80 IS WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY ME, ANTONIA CEREIJIDO AND BY SOPHIA PALIZA-CARRE.

THE SHOW IS A PRODUCTION OF LAIST STUDIOS IN COLLABORATION WITH FUTURO STUDIOS. LEO G IS THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR LAIST STUDIOS. MARLON BISHOP IS THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR FUTURO STUDIOS. JOAQUIN COTLER IS OUR ASSOCIATE PRODUCER. JUAN DIEGO RAMIREZ IS OUR PRODUCTION ASSISTANT. MARIALEXA KAVANAUGH IS OUR INTERN. EDITING BY AUDREY QUINN. FACT CHECKING BY AMY TARDIFF. ENGINEERING BY STEPHANIE LEBOW. AND ORIGINAL MUSIC BY ZACH ROBINSON.

SPECIAL THANKS TO JAMES KIRKLAND, TERESA DERUYTER WAGES, AND CURT ROTHSCHILLER, OUR WEBSITE IS DESIGNED BY ANDY CHEATWOOD AND THE ​​DIGITAL AND MARKETING TEAMS AT LAIST STUDIOS. THE MARKETING TEAM​ ​OF LAIST STUDIOS CREATED OUR BRANDING. THANKS TO THE TEAM AT LAIST ​​STUDIOS, INCLUDING: KRISTEN HAYFORD, TAYLOR

COFFMAN, KRISTEN​ ​MULLER, AND LEO G.

IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MORE ABOUT NORCO 80, PLEASE FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST ON APPLE PODCASTS, SPOTIFY, NPR1, THE IHEART APP OR WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS. AND PLEASE, DON’T FORGET TO RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW.

Trailer: Norco 80
In 1980, a devastating bank robbery shocked Southern California. It was carried out by masked men determined to outlive the apocalypse. But the robbery would quickly spin out of control, providing a cautionary tale of an America in the midst of an economic recession and serve as a complex conversation about the role of police forces in our communities. This is the story of Norco ‘80, a new podcast from LAist Studios.
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Meet The Team
Antonia Cereijido - Host & Producer

Antonia Cereijido is a host and senior producer with Futuro Media. She was a producer for six years on NPR’s Latino USA and hosted her own segment The Breakdown. She has hosted podcasts for Mic and Slate. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Code Switch, and NPR’s All Things Considered.

Coverage has ranged from a profile of the Mexican-American man who runs the largest and most controversial migrant youth shelters, to a deep dive into the controversy over Oprah's book club selection American Dirt.

Joaquin Cotler - Associate Producer

Joaquin Cotler is an Edward R. Murrow award winning reporter and audio producer. A former GroundTruth Podcast Fellow and a Marquerite Casey Equal Voice Fellow, Joaquin has focused on the opioid crisis and its impact on vulnerable communities in New York and Puerto Rico. His work has appeared on The GroundTruth Project’s “The Fix,” NPR’s Latino USA, and Studio 360. He is currently an associate producer with Futuro Studios.

Juan Diego Ramirez - Production Assistant

Juan Diego Ramirez is Futuro Studios and Latino USA’s Production Assistant At-Large. He is a multimedia producer and journalist based in New York City. He is also the co-producer and co-hosts of Racist Sandwich, a James Beard Foundation nominated podcast on food, class, race, and gender across the globe. You can also find some of Juan Diego‘s work on OPB, Latino USA, Latino Rebels and LA Taco.

Sophia Paliza-Carre - Senior Producer

Sophia Paliza-Carre is a long-form narrative audio producer and editor at Futuro Studios. She began working in audio by developing hyperlocal storytelling and engagement projects, and then worked as a public radio producer for WNYC, Radio Rookies, The Moth, and Arizona Public Media. Radio series she has worked on have been recognized by a duPont-Columbia Award, and a 1st place AP award for “Best News Series.” She has worked as an editor for NPR’s Latino USA, and is now a senior producer at Futuro Studios.

Marlon Bishop - Executive Producer

Currently overseeing Futuro Studios, Marlon Bishop is a Peabody Award-winning radio producer and editor with a focus on Latin America, immigration, identity and society, music and the arts. After a decade working reporting on music for various outlets, he served as Senior Editor on the public radio program Latino USA. Today, he runs Futuro Studios, a new podcast division of Futuro Media. His stories have appeared in The FADER, This American Life, Planet Money, NPR News, Studio 360 and many other outlets.

Marialexa Kavanaugh - Intern

Marialexa Kavanaugh is a freelance journalist and graduate student at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with a concentration in longform reporting. She has written pieces for Narratively, Bedford and Bowery, Feministing.com and LAist. Prior to NYU, she worked primarily in radio, gaining experience as an afternoon newscaster for KSFR in her hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Later, she spent a year working at Southern California Public Radio, editing stories for the station’s Arts and Entertainment department.

Audrey Quinn - Editor

Audrey Quinn is a documentary audio editor and reporter in Brooklyn, NY. She teaches audio reporting at the NYU Journalism Center. She hosted the narrative podcast Aftereffect from WNYC Studios, and has worked with Radiolab, Planet Money, Reveal, 99 Percent Invisible, Gimlet, Marketplace, and Frontline. Her work has won awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Deadline Club, SPJ NJ, and the National Center on Disability Journalism Award. Audrey is a former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Reporting Fellow.

Zach Robinson - Composer

Zach Robinson is a composer for film, television, and media from Los Angeles. He currently composes the score for the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai. Zach previously wrote soundtracks for Impractical Jokers: The Movie, Quibi's Die Hart, and the videogame Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues. He has contributed music to major motion pictures such as Ant-Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Frozen, and The Peanuts Movie.

Amy Tardif - Fact-Checker

Amy Tardif is the Regional Manager of StoryCorps in Chicago. She’s an independent journalist who works as a fact-checker for various podcasts including Latino USA and Futuro Studios as well as editing for the PMJA Editor Corps. She’s a two-time Peabody award winner, was formerly WGCU-FM Public Media’s Station Manager and News Director, the first woman in radio to Chair the Radio, TV, Digital News Association (RTDNA), and she served five years on the Public Radio News Director’s (now PMJA) Board. Amy is a managing editor for NPR's Next Generation Radio Project. She’s spent many years as a reporter, host, and producer.

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LA is the heart and soul of the new America, a city driven by its diversity, its work ethic, and its obsession with what’s next. But it’s also a state of mind, the creator of global culture, and the place where the idea of the future often begins.

LAist Studios exists to reflect those values, and the incredible diversity of people who live them. We create world-class podcasts and on-demand audio news, information and storytelling that moves people emotionally and socially. And we do it by identifying creators with new voices and fresh ideas, young people of color often locked out of mainstream media.

LAist Studios is a creative home for what’s next and who’s next. We exist to tell LA stories to the world.

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