<= back

agnesfreeman.jpg (43516 bytes)
Miss Agnes Freeman
circa 1930


The first bank robbery in the history of Riverside County that anyone can remember, occurred on August 14, 1930 at the Temecula First National Bank. On that fateful day Michael "Jerry" Diaz entered the bank at nine o'clock in the morning and walked to the teller's window. Miss Agnes Freeman, the young teller, appeared to be alone because the bank cashier, John W. Chisholm, was in the back room at the time.

"As Diaz approached, I greeted him. He did not reply and became agitated when he recognized me," said Miss Freeman. "I knew him from the Pauba Ranch where he was one of the hands that worked for my Dad. He put a paper bag on the counter, drew a revolver, and ordered me to put up my hands.

When Mr. Chisholm entered the room Diaz had already crawled over the counter and put the gun to my back. He told us that he would shoot us both if we caused trouble. He tossed the paper bag to Mr. Chisholm and ordered him to fill it with money. He then forced us into the vault, where he attempted to lock us in, but Mr. Chisholm pushed a screwdriver into the jamb as the door was closing. Diaz couldn't get the locking mechanism to work, but escaped with about $2,000.

As Diaz drove away in a yellow Model A Ford coupe, Mr. Chisholm grabbed a Luger pistol he kept in his desk and ran into the street calling for help. John McSweeney, a local rancher, was in the barber shop across the street getting a shave at the time. He jumped out of the chair; towel, lather, and all; and, he and Mr. Chisholm took off after Diaz in Mr. McSweeney's Buick.

They caught him about two miles up Winchester Road. When Mr. Chisholm fired two shots through his windshield Diaz stopped and surrendered. He was later tried and found guilty of first degree robbery, and served three years in prison before being paroled."

The Bank's insurance company rewarded Miss Freeman with a diamond broach, and Chisholm with a nickel-plated .45 caliber automatic pistol for their bravery.

Roger Francis Honberger
October 24, 1992