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A quick warning, some of the series includes descriptions of graphic violence, torture at around three thirty pm on May 9th, 1980, Deputy Sheriff Andrew Delgado Montay was finishing up, working the traffic beat in Norco, California, with a fellow officer. Well, we're we're standing by the cars. And in Riverside, we had an alert tone that the dispatchers pushed the button and it would send out a tone to all the cars. It would go beep.


Well, that went off, everybody listened because something hot is going to be put over the radio, they're going to have to go and progress on security. Pacific Bank board the hammer. Something bad's happening for some time. A suspect vehicle is a green van with weapons.


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.


We threw our coffee down and we jumped in our cars and we hear Molaskey, Glen Molaskey jump on the radio screaming bloody murder.


Officer had to clear the air 199 more than.


I Anthony yesterday, Hedo and from Elías Studios and Futuro Studios, this is Norco 80, a series about God, Guns, Survivalism and the bank robbery that changed policing forever. Chapter two, the firefight. What would happen when George Smith and the other suspects exited the bank? The first car that showed up the scene, the officer got out of basically shooting a year after that. That's just the way, you know, just a wildfire. 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.


Did you guys see any officers at that time? Nobody knew, which is perfect. It was just like bullets flying.


George said nobody knew it was just a burst. Bullets were flying everywhere. George and the other suspects carried semiautomatic 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.


Where did you guys get the materials from? The bombs just on your throat. You know, I made them out of class. How did you make them the here? I got crushed glass let of 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, muskets, gas masks, emergency blankets, extra clothing, a knife to machetes and even a samurai sword. George would say he was just being overcautious.


I just got to be cautious about the whole plan as opposed to rolling out alone, he says. The plan itself was to roll in and roll out, but it didn't happen that way.


Can you hear me? Yeah, I can hear. Can you hear me? Hi, Andrew. Hi. How's it going? I'm fine. How about yourself? Deputy Sheriff Andrew Delgado. Monty was the second officer to arrive on the scene the day of the bank robbery. Talking to Andrew, you realize he's the kind of man who makes no effort to hide the chip on his shoulder.


I don't deny what I know. Now, here's how he talked to me about his police training days. Do you make friends along the way?


Sure. Enemies to. Andrew's Mexican-American, and he feels his identity has a lot to do with how he's been treated.


Well, you make an enemy right when you first walk in the door.


If you look like me growing up, he was raised by migrant farmworkers when you were a kid. Like if somebody was looking at your kindergarten class photo. Who are you in your class?


Well, I was always the smallest guy around. Started when I went to school, started kindergarten, and I remember I remember that very clearly, actually, I always with no, I'm five foot four small guy.


Even though he grew up in East L.A., he was often one of the only kids who looked like him in his classrooms of the late 50s and early 60s 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 were in the military would come visit men who looked like him, but clearly belonged to something, something bigger. Well, they looked special.


One would come in and he had his uniform on and we were in his ribbons and he just looked like a million dollars and so neat and clean and impressive in his uniform. I thought, you know, I want to be that someday. And and he would.


At 18, Andrew joined the Marines. But after four years, he decided he wanted to settle down. And when thinking about what to do next, his first thought was to continue work in the service to become a police officer.


However, I didn't think that was ever going to happen. But that's what I wanted, because typically, if you look historically and police work, you know, the typical big Irish cop pinching the apples on his foot beat, that's 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 percent of the police force, and of all the ethnic groups are the most disproportionately underrepresented.


Women were actually ones that opened the door for me to become a law enforcement officer and that there is a lawsuit for having a height requirement that it was discriminatory against women because women are typically shorter than men. A lot of police departments, sheriff's departments used to be like five, 10. And so throughout the country and in California, they started lowering that height requirement to the point where they finally eliminated it. And then when that happened, that opened the door for me.


And Andrew officially became a police officer in 1974. And I remember suiting up, putting on my sheriff's uniform and my Sam Brown, my gun belt, etc., all my stuff, and take it out to my car and get my shotgun ready and all the stuff that I was trained to do. Then I was what we call Tenny, which means the potential for inservice. I thought I really drive driving around a black and white 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 swath of land, more than 7000 square miles that included everything from wilderness areas to Indian reservations, small desert towns like Naco 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 four miles, seeing only a couple of cows or horses.


Andrew drove around the county armed with a single revolver on his dashboard 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 getup. I've seen the pictures and there are a lot of mustaches and bellbottom, so I am also curious, just like what how it looks. But yeah, what was the whole feeling at the time?


Well, you know, at the time I had long hair, longer hair. Anyway, it seemed like all the cops and firefighters as well. But we all had mustaches, the culture, wars and society at that time. I think that was back in the day of Saturday Night Fever, although John Travolta and all that, even with his matching mustache, Andrew had trouble fitting in with the other officers.


A couple of weeks before the bank robbery, the other cops invited him to a party. Andrew had been looking forward to a laid back night.


And we're going to watch Animal House with John Belushi, if you remember that movie or not.


Yes, it's a funny movie to talk about.


But when Andrew got there, things felt really off there, like six or seven deputies in there.


One of them is the guy that he and I just did not get along. And he was he was very vocal about that. And here's these guys all sitting on the couch. Rodrique Beer.


They got a porn movie going on. Oh, my gosh. I'm in the 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 hooting 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 first, you know, I got to go.


Actually, I really can't stay by, you know, a. And that guy starts spouting off, calling me names, calling me a wetback. The Mexican nobody liked me, nobody likes Mexicans. I said, let's go outside, it's going to patio out here, pal. You know, everybody poured out. And the sad commentary for me, a 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. But they weren't concerned about her. 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.


What made you want to stay in an organization that you immediately knew was racist or discriminatory? I was determined not to allow anybody to run me out of something that I wanted. That was not going to let anybody take money out of my pocket. I supported my family with that job just because they didn't like the way I looked, 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 of 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.


He says, I want you in my office tomorrow. Seven thirty 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 that comes out and gets me all the way out there to lobby their doors, get promoted. It was a huge relief he wasn't in trouble and he was going to accomplish a longtime goal of his to become a detective, told my wife about it. I just want to tell her the night before I think I was going to ever get promoted.


And I was very happy about that. Andrew felt a lightness that day as he worked his traffic patrol in downtown Norco, his fellow patrolman, Chuck Hill, asked to get a coffee at the end of their shift.


Chuck was single and he was kind of a ladies man, good looking guy. And I knew he had a little girlfriend or a girl that he liked at the wind chills of all places. You know, cops had wind chills.


Wind chills is a popular doughnut chain in California, as that's. You want to go to Winchell's? And it was no, no, let's go up to 6th and hammer that area. There's another doughnut shop there called the doughnut corral. I said, OK, so we went over there and we parked under a tree there and we went, I got some coffee, came back out to our cars, are standing next to our patrol cars talking, talking about life and their 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.


So we're back there to say 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 a I got from investigators when he congratulated me and he told me that I was a good cop and he was glad that I got promoted.


You didn't know it at the time, but you were like really close to where the robbers were at that moment. Two blocks north, one block east from the bank. Yeah, we obviously had no clue that those guys were getting ready to do that.


By the time I should have made it a minute, 30 seconds instead of ten minutes. I have. Going units have a 211 in progress security, Pacific Bank or and hammer.


Meanwhile, the robbers money in hand were exiting through the double doors of the bank by chance. An officer, Deputy Sheriff Glynn Bielawski, was around the corner when the police dispatch went out. Two seconds later, he was on the scene. The robbers drove into the 70s style van they had stolen earlier as the officer drove in to 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 call went out, the firefight had begun on. Andrew and his fellow patrolman heard the first officer on the radio. We threw our coffee down.


We jumped in our cars and just slammed on his gas pedal heading towards the bank. Terrifying three accounts.


And I'm thinking, holy cow, he's had it. I'm thinking I'm going to get these guys. They're not going to get away with transponding. We'll be right back. Get the story behind your favorite podcast. I think if you want to get out of the grave, probably going to a therapist is a better idea than like making a 12 pot podcast. Sometimes I feel like, oh, my God, I haven't dealt with the icky bits that lie beneath.


Subscribe to serve the pot with Nick from Aliased Studios. The first officer at the scene had been shot. Riverside, all units in the location are being fired upon.


He was also shooting back back towards the van with George and the robbers who are trying to escape the bank parking lot. All the while, Gary HACLA, the kidnapped owner of the van, is still tied up in his vehicle's closet.


And when they got into 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 that, you know, was a cop or or a security guard. But, you know, 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.


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 to there's not a piece of glass left in the van. And all of a sudden there's 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 that door to the closet. I can feel the van all of a sudden decelerate one pallet from that shotgun broke the neck of the driver and he slumps forward.


And we crash into something which I can see out the back is a chain link fence. And. The driver was wounded, but it wasn't clear if the shot and 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 doughnut corral, finally turned onto the street of the bank.


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.


I'll get the rest. 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 arriving into the chain link fence. The driver slumped in the front seat. Traffic was backed up at the intersection. Nobody was going through the intersection because while this it was a busy intersection with a feed store, four horses and a Carl's Jr., 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.


They were taking turns the rotating shooting of Molaskey. The suspects were ducking behind the van doors and popping back up, a maneuver Andrew recognized from his military training.


You hear me come up because I turn off my siren quickly.


Andrews car screeched to a halt, jumped out with my shotgun, and I fired four shotgun blast into this group of men about 40 yards away or so. And I thought, well, this is over. They're not surviving for shotgun blast going at them. Well, nobody fell down. And one of them turn around the point guy, the guy who was doing at the front of the van and pointed at me and I knew there to start shooting at me.


When he did that, four men armed with semi-automatic weapons turned their attention on Andrew, thinking as fast as he could. Andrew started to weigh his odds.


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 handgun seemed puny compared to their AR 15s. He drove 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. 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 were going to be going through my pockets, which they do. And you got somebody lying or 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 back up a sea of black and white, a sheriff's car.


It was the other patrolman, Andrew had just been having coffee with Chuck Hill. They had split up on the way to the scene, taking different roads in order to potentially cut off the suspects. He came up, he turned right into that for that feast or made a U-turn, drove back across 34th. He had turned around and was going towards the first officer who had been shot, he wasn't coming to cover and drew a lot of mixed emotions going on an event like that.


I was very happy about that. Hillsville saved 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 and we were catching bullets from all angles.


I got hit and looked in the face and got me, he says.


Andrews Bullets were hitting them from all angles and with their van totaled. They knew their only path for escape was stealing.


Another car abandoned the van. Tell me how you got the second vehicle. We ran up and just told them how to get out of the truck or get his head blown off and we said we would have blown soon after.


Mike Ellenville 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.


Pretty, pretty crazy situation, you know, so I didn't have a whole lot of time to think about much. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. And bullets were ricocheting off of my truck.


Mike caught glimpses of the robbers while he was trying to keep his head down. They were all wearing ski masks in army fatigues.


You know, all of a sudden, Mike saw one of the suspects spot him.


I was looking up over the top of the dash, just just my eyeballs. You know, I locked eyes with this one guy. 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.


I mean, I've already seen these guys shoot, shoot out with the guy. You know, I knew he wasn't gonna open the door and asked me if I wanted to loan him the truck through my door open. I went out the driver door and they were coming in the passenger door. The suspects hijacked Mike's yellow truck.


I rolled out under the pavement and took off running. And then 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 another getaway car just a couple blocks away from the bank, if they could get there, they could still escape. But as they look to exit the intersection, there was one thing in their way.


Andrew. So here they come. There was no cover. It is 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 by.


They accelerated in his direction, guns pointed. Andrew took stock of his situation and his surroundings as he prepared for impact the suspects in the yellow pickup truck were driving straight towards him. I figured I might be able to survive a hit in the body. And I had a vest on, but it wouldn't work with those rifles. I saw him stop and I said, well, if I see any feet, I'll come out and I'll just have to go toe to toe.


I had six rounds on 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 me laying on the ground or 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 that which was good. And it was, I think, pretty obvious at that point that they thought I'd hit some kind of disappearing act, which I did.


And then they took off. We are excited, Elías Studios, California Love is a best podcast of 20-20 by Apple podcast and Spotify.


What you find the hidden secret is like, Oh, this is here. Oh, you have an oasis, join Walter Thompson Hernandez for a transcendent journey, experience California, love wherever you get your podcasts. Relief washed over Andy, the robbers were gone and he was alive. But relief was met with another familiar sensation, that of resentment, resentment towards his fellow officers, and I believe then and I believe now that he 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 Hill recently said, I'm sorry, and he still feels that way. We never made a decision to leave him alone, but in the end, we probably did.


You feel like the Brotherhood kind of let you down? I felt that the brotherhood of police work is their. 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 police work. We were not a brotherhood. And when it comes down to it. Yeah, 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 going to be on your own. And in this case, the scales were very much on the bad guy side because there's more of them. There was a bust and they had bigger, better weapons and they were using them. Andrew says this bank robbery in Norco is when he came to the conclusion that his revolver wasn't enough to protect him. He told me if there's no one else to back you up, all you have is your weapon.


We need to have better firepower than the bad guys. The odds have to be in our favor. 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.


Where was the guy that owned the van all this time? Tied up. Tied up where? In my cabin.


Gary Hakala was still in the back of the van. I'm alone in the van rocking back and forth. There is guns all over the place. There was homemade bombs on the floor, money on the floor.


The robbers had managed to take about 20 thousand dollars from the bank and they'd left it spread out all over the back of the van.


I was kind of thinking, gee, I'd 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 to. 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, we're still watching this 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 suspect was in there, try to get away. So I jumped up and I had my shot point that we're all putting our guns down. The next thing we know, a man appears in the passenger door window and he shouted, and I can understand him. And he's yelling and yelling, 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, still moving back and forth. And I roll out of the van. I roll on the ground. He had his hands taped behind his back.


Tape goes back and his legs taped together like a mummy. And I can't really roll because my shoulders in such pain. So I'm kind of crawling like a like a caterpillar with my my chin and my my knees as best I can. They're people looking out the window of the restaurant at me. They're, you know, no one's going to come help me. But finally, this this lady cop comes and tells me to get down. And I forget you, man.


Just get this tape off of me. You know, it hurts so bad. You know, you're numb again. I'm going to reiterate, I had to pee. So she gets the tape off. And course, I leave 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. The battle between the robbers and the police was only just getting started, but there was already irrevocable loss.


Who got killed off the building? What was his last name?


Stoga Unenforceability Delgado, the getaway driver, a 17 year old boy named Bellisario Delgado, who everyone called Billy, was dead. He was the driver of the van when my best friend just. Next week on NAWBO 80 or of what happened in the lead up to the robbery, 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. Norco, 80, is written and produced by me, Antonia Santiago, and by Sofia Ballista. The show is a production of l'Est Studios in collaboration with Futura studios. Loggi is the executive producer for Elías Studios. Marlon Bishop is the executive producer for Futuro Studios. Audrey Quinn is our editor. Joaquin Cotlar is our associate producer. Juana Ramirez is our production assistant. Maria Aleksa Cavnar is our intern. Fact Checking by Amy Tardiff, Engineering by Stephanie LaBeau, original music by Zach Robinson.


This podcast is based on the book Norco, edited by Peter Hoolahan. Our website is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at Elliott Studios. The marketing team of Elliott Studios created our branding thanks to the team at studios including Kristen Hayford, Taylor Kaufman, Kristen Muller and Loggi. If you want to hear more about Northcote, please follow or subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, NPR one, the I Heart app, or wherever you get your podcasts.


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