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Riverside County (Opens in New Window)
Press Release: Norco Bank Robbery Presentation
Agency: Sheriff’s Administration
Station Area: Riverside County
Written Date: June 2, 2019 Time: 8:00 am
Incident Date: June 1, 2019 Time: 11:00 am
Incident Location: Security Pacific Bank, Norco
Reporting Officer: Lieutenant Chris Durham
File Number(s): N/A


On May 9, 1980, five men dressed in Army fatigues, and armed with powerful rifles, robbed the Security Pacific Bank, in the city of Norco. The suspects fled with approximately $20,000 in cash as local law enforcement agencies gave chase. A high-speed pursuit and gun battle ensued as the suspects attempted their escape.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will never forget the sacrifice of Deputy James Evans, the only officer slain during the shootout. This 1980 bank robbery was a landmark event in the history of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Inland Empire community, and all-American law enforcement personnel.

Yesterday, Sheriff Chad Bianco hosted the launch of a book tour for the release of “Norco ‘80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History.”  The book is the result of three years of research by author Peter Houlahan, with cooperation from Riverside County and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Departments, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the California Office of the Attorney General, and included interviews with law enforcement personnel and others involved in the event. This collaborative effort is the first time the entire story of the event, trial, and people involved has been told.

The book tour occurred at Norco City College, near the original incident, and was attended by several local dignitaries. To help those in attendance understand this dynamic event, crime scene photographs were shown of the several police cars that were struck by the suspects’ high-powered rifles, and radio traffic from the deputies converging on the bank to rescue an injured deputy and capture the suspects was played. Additionally, several of the original deputies who responded to the robbery and/or participated in the pursuit, as well as civilian victims who were carjacked and taken as a hostage spoke and shared their personal stories. The prosecutors also spoke about the complexity of the case and some of their strategies during the trial.

This event was not open to the public but local media was invited. Additionally, the event was broadcasted live on the Department’s Facebook page.

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