The Temecula Bank Robbery




Imagine stepping back in time to the year 1930 in Riverside County, where you find yourself at the scene of the first bank robbery that anyone can remember. It was a fateful day on August 14 when Michael “Jerry” Diaz entered the Temecula First National Bank, causing fear and chaos. Among the brave individuals caught in the midst of this terrifying event was Miss Agnes Freeman, a young teller who found herself facing an agitated Diaz. With a paper bag on the counter and a revolver in hand, Diaz ordered Miss Freeman and the bank cashier, John Chisholm, to comply with his demands. Through courage and wit, they managed to escape the locked vault after Diaz fled, with Chisholm firing two shots and apprehending him with the help of a local rancher. Diaz was convicted and served time, while Miss Freeman and Chisholm were rewarded for their bravery. Join us as we delve into the captivating story of “the Temecula Bank Robbery.”

History of the Temecula Bank Robbery


The Temecula Bank Robbery, which took place on August 14, 1930, is a significant event in the history of Riverside County. It was the first bank robbery that had been documented and remembered by the local community. The robbery occurred at the Temecula First National Bank, where Michael “Jerry” Diaz, a former employee at Pauba Ranch, entered the bank at nine o’clock in the morning.

The Robbery

As Diaz entered the bank, he walked up to the teller’s window where Miss Agnes Freeman was stationed. At first, Freeman thought Diaz was there to conduct regular business. However, Diaz’s demeanor quickly changed when he recognized Freeman, whom he knew from her family’s ranch. Diaz placed a paper bag on the counter, drew a revolver, and ordered Freeman to put her hands up.

At that moment, John W. Chisholm, the bank cashier, arrived in the room. Diaz had already climbed over the counter and held the gun against Freeman’s back. He threatened both Freeman and Chisholm, warning them against causing any trouble. Diaz then tossed the paper bag to Chisholm and ordered him to fill it with money.

After obtaining approximately $2,000, Diaz attempted to lock Freeman and Chisholm in the bank’s vault. However, Chisholm managed to push a screwdriver into the jamb, preventing the door from closing completely. Unable to lock them inside, Diaz made his getaway in a yellow Model A Ford coupe.

Chisholm, determined to bring Diaz to justice, grabbed a Luger pistol from his desk and ran into the street, calling for help. John McSweeney, a local rancher who happened to be in the nearby barber shop getting a shave, immediately joined Chisholm in pursuit of Diaz. Together, they chased him for about two miles up Winchester Road and ultimately caught up with him.

Diaz surrendered after Chisholm fired two shots through his windshield. He was later convicted of first-degree robbery and served a three-year prison sentence before being paroled.

Participants Involved

Michael ‘Jerry’ Diaz

Michael “Jerry” Diaz was the mastermind behind the Temecula Bank Robbery. Prior to the incident, he had worked as a ranch hand at the Pauba Ranch. Diaz’s recognition of Miss Agnes Freeman, the bank teller, played a role in his decision to target the Temecula First National Bank.

Miss Agnes Freeman

Miss Agnes Freeman was the young bank teller who encountered Diaz during the robbery. Her familiarity with Diaz from her family’s ranch contributed to the agitated behavior exhibited by Diaz upon recognizing her. Freeman showed bravery throughout the ordeal and was rewarded by the bank’s insurance company with a diamond brooch.

John W. Chisholm

John W. Chisholm served as the bank cashier during the time of the robbery. Upon hearing the commotion, Chisholm intervened and found himself under threat from Diaz. Despite the danger, he managed to prevent Diaz from locking Freeman and himself inside the vault. Chisholm’s bravery was acknowledged with a nickel-plated .45 caliber automatic pistol as a reward from the bank’s insurance company.

John McSweeney

John McSweeney, a local rancher, became an unexpected participant in the events of the robbery. While getting a shave at the barber shop across the street from the bank, McSweeney noticed the commotion and immediately sprang into action. He joined forces with Chisholm in pursuing Diaz and played a crucial role in ultimately apprehending him.

The Temecula Bank Robbery

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Timeline of Events

9:00 am – Diaz enters the bank

Michael “Jerry” Diaz enters the Temecula First National Bank at nine o’clock in the morning. His intention to carry out a robbery becomes clear as the events unfold.

Diaz confronts Miss Freeman

Upon recognizing Miss Agnes Freeman, Diaz becomes agitated and pulls out a revolver. He orders her to put her hands up, alarming both Freeman and the bank cashier, John W. Chisholm.

Diaz orders Chisholm to fill the bag with money

Diaz instructs John W. Chisholm to fill a paper bag with money from the bank’s cash reserves. It is during this phase that Diaz begins planning his escape.

Diaz attempts to lock Freeman and Chisholm in the vault

After obtaining the money, Diaz attempts to lock both Miss Freeman and Chisholm in the bank’s vault. However, Chisholm manages to prevent the door from closing entirely, giving them a chance to escape.

Diaz escapes with $2,000

Despite the failed attempt to lock Freeman and Chisholm in the vault, Diaz manages to make his getaway with approximately $2,000 in hand.

Chisholm calls for help and pursues Diaz

Determined to bring Diaz to justice, Chisholm grabs a Luger pistol from his desk and runs into the street, calling for assistance. John McSweeney, a nearby rancher, responds to Chisholm’s call and joins him in the pursuit of Diaz.

Diaz is caught and surrenders

After a pursuit spanning about two miles, Chisholm fires shots through Diaz’s windshield, forcing him to stop. Diaz surrenders and is apprehended.

Diaz’s trial and conviction

Michael “Jerry” Diaz is later tried and found guilty of first-degree robbery, facing the consequences of his actions.

Diaz’s prison sentence and parole

Diaz serves a three-year prison sentence as a result of his conviction. Eventually, he is granted parole, marking the end of his time behind bars.

Response and Consequences

Rewards for Miss Freeman and Chisholm

In recognition of their bravery during the robbery, Miss Agnes Freeman and John W. Chisholm were rewarded by the bank’s insurance company. Freeman received a diamond brooch, while Chisholm was presented with a nickel-plated .45 caliber automatic pistol.

Impact on the bank and community

The Temecula Bank Robbery had a significant impact on both the bank and the local community. It brought attention to the vulnerabilities of financial institutions and their need for increased security measures. The incident also served as a wake-up call for the community, highlighting the need for heightened awareness and preparedness.

Security measures implemented

Following the bank robbery, the Temecula First National Bank implemented various security measures to enhance the safety of its employees and customers. These measures included updated security protocols, surveillance systems, and closer collaboration with local law enforcement agencies.

Legacy and Historical Significance

First bank robbery in Riverside County

The Temecula Bank Robbery holds historical significance as the first recorded bank robbery in Riverside County. Its occurrence marked a turning point in the region’s history, prompting a reevaluation of security measures not only in the affected bank but also in financial institutions throughout the county.

Public perception and media coverage

The Temecula Bank Robbery garnered significant public attention and media coverage at the time. The audacity of the heist captured the imagination of the public, leading to widespread discussions and speculation about the incident.

Lessons learned and influence on bank security

In the aftermath of the robbery, the banking industry and law enforcement agencies took the opportunity to learn from the incident. The Temecula Bank Robbery provided valuable lessons that helped shape future security protocols and practices in the banking sector. The incident ultimately influenced the development of more robust security measures to protect banks and prevent similar crimes.

The Pauba Ranch Connection

Diaz’s employment at the Pauba Ranch

Before his involvement in the Temecula Bank Robbery, Michael “Jerry” Diaz had worked as a ranch hand at the Pauba Ranch. This connection between Diaz and the Freeman family adds a layer of complexity to the motivations behind the robbery.

Relationship between Diaz and Freeman’s family

The exact nature of the relationship between Michael Diaz and the Freeman family, who owned the Pauba Ranch, is unclear. However, Diaz’s familiarity with Miss Agnes Freeman from the ranch likely played a role in his decision to target the Temecula First National Bank.

The Yellow Model A Ford Coupe

Diaz’s choice of getaway vehicle

During the Temecula Bank Robbery, Michael Diaz utilized a yellow Model A Ford coupe as his getaway vehicle. This choice reflects Diaz’s deliberate planning and consideration for the importance of a quick and inconspicuous escape.

Significance of the car model and color

Diaz’s selection of a Model A Ford coupe, a popular car model of the era, demonstrates his knowledge of available escape vehicles. Additionally, the choice of a yellow-colored car may have been a strategic decision to blend in with the common colors of vehicles on the road during that time.

Other Notable Bank Robberies in Riverside County

Comparison to subsequent bank robberies

While the Temecula Bank Robbery holds its own significance, more bank robberies would follow in the history of Riverside County. Comparisons between these later incidents and the initial heist provide insights into evolving patterns and methods of criminal activity.

Impact on security protocols

The occurrence of the Temecula Bank Robbery, as the first recorded bank robbery in Riverside County, played a critical role in shaping security protocols and procedures in subsequent years. Lessons learned from the initial robbery facilitated the refinement of security measures aimed at preventing future incidents and protecting the assets of financial institutions.

Testimonies and Retellings

Miss Freeman’s account of the incident

Miss Agnes Freeman, the bank teller at the Temecula First National Bank, provided a firsthand account of her experience during the robbery. Her testimony shed light on Diaz’s recognition of her and his subsequent actions.

Chisholm’s perspective

As the bank cashier at the time, John W. Chisholm also offered his perspective on the events of the robbery. His testimony provided valuable details about Diaz’s attempts to lock them in the vault and his subsequent pursuit of Diaz.

Eyewitness testimonies

Eyewitnesses who were present during the robbery provided additional testimonies, contributing to the collective understanding and narrative of the incident. These accounts helped paint a more comprehensive picture of the events as they unfolded.

Historical records and newspaper articles

In addition to testimonies, historical records and newspaper articles from the time also served as valuable sources of information for reconstructing the events of the Temecula Bank Robbery. These sources provide a glimpse into how the public perceived and understood the incident at the time.


Retrospective Analysis of the Temecula Bank Robbery

Looking back at the Temecula Bank Robbery, it is clear that the incident had far-reaching implications for the local community and the banking industry in Riverside County. The audacity of Michael Diaz’s actions and the bravery of Miss Agnes Freeman and John W. Chisholm left an indelible mark on the region’s history.

Final thoughts and reflection on its historical significance

The Temecula Bank Robbery serves as a reminder of the need for constant vigilance and improved security measures in the face of evolving criminal activities. By examining the intricacies and consequences of this particular incident, we gain valuable insights into how society adapts and responds to challenges in order to create a safer future.

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