Deputy James B. Evans, Sr.
Born: February 3, 1941
Tour of Duty: 4.5 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: May 9, 1980
Weapon Used: Full-Auto rifle
Suspect Info: Three captured – two shot and killed
Deputy James Evans was employed with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department four and a half years. He was hired on September 2, 1975, and assigned to Riverside Station Patrol. Deputy Evans began his law enforcement career in 1974 as a Reserve Officer with Colton Police Department. He attended the Riverside Sheriff’s Department 61st Basic Academy in the fall of 1975. In 1978, he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from California Baptist College (now California Baptist University) and his Intermediate Peace Officer’s Certificate. Deputy Evans also received many citizen commendations for his services. At the time of his death, Deputy Evans was working toward his Master’s Degree in Business Administration and had future hopes of someday running for the office of sheriff.
On May 9, 1980, five men dressed in Army fatigues, robbed the Security Pacific Bank in Norco. The men were carrying automatic weapons and were heavily armed. The robbers were confronted with deputies at the bank and along a long and lengthy route through northwest Riverside County and eventually into San Bernardino County. Scores of police vehicles and personnel were shot at, with many vehicles disabled due to gunfire. A San Beranrdino County Sheriff”s Department helicopter was shot down by the robbers. While fleeing with approximately $20,000 in cash, the suspects were chased by many local law enforcement agencies. Many deputies and one CHP officer were struck by gunfire. The desperate suspects also shot a civilian children, striking two, who survived with minor wounds.
Towards the end of the vehiclular pursuit, Deputy Evans assumed as the lead car. Due to poor radio communications, the suspect’s were able to set up an ambush as Deputy Evans had feared. As Deputy Evans rounded a curve in the remote mountainous region called Lytle Creek, he observed that the suspects had stopped their vehicle and were waiting for him. The suspects pointed their high-powered rifles and shot Deputy Evan who died moments later.
The suspects fled on foot and a massive manhunt for them was conducted through the night and into the next day. Three of the five suspects were captured. One suspect was killed at the Bank and another was killed while being apprehended. The remaining three are still in prision seving life terms (no death penalty in California at the time).
Deputy Evans was survived by his wife, Mary, and six children. He was also survived by his parents, two brothers and one sister. Deputy Evans was born in Brownfield, Texas. Deputy Evans served in the U. S. Army as a Ranger and was awarded the Army’s Medal of Valor. In 2002, Deputy James Evans was posthumously awarded the Riverside Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor. The Medal of Valor was presented to Mary and her son James Jr. Two ceremonies have been held honoring Deputy Evans, the deputies and CHP officer who were shot and survived, and the many other law enforcement personnel who responded to the call that day. Both ceremonies were sponsored by the Riverside Sheriff’s Association and were very well attended by departmental members, family, friends and others.
Deputy Evans is buried at Crestlawn Memorial Cemetery located in Riverside, California.