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End of watch

October 13, 2007 |  9:56 am

 

1961_woody

 

1957_1013_blevins_hed

Oct. 13-23, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_1013_blevins_pix Woody and Eddy's should have been an easy job for two old pros just out of the joint: Sit around and have a drink or two until the place closes and nearly everybody has cleared out, pull the guns, make them open the safe and take the money. Rough up anybody who gets brave.

Thomas Lee Barrington, 29, was living at 155 Bimini Place after being paroled from San Quentin seven weeks earlier. Harry B. Hancock, 50, 1414 E. 60th St., had been out of Folsom since March after spending 15 of the last 22 years in prison. Maybe they didn't know and maybe they didn't care, but Barrington and Hancock weren't dealing with the San Marino Police Department. Instead, the combination restaurant, bar and liquor store at Huntington and San Gabriel was across the street in Los Angeles County, under the jurisdiction of the Temple City substation.

Late in the evening, one of them slipped into the business' office and cut the phone wires. They followed bartender Andrew Gillian and his wife, Genevieve, into the parking lot, drew their guns and forced the couple back into the bar to open the safe At that time, nearly everyone was gone. The restaurant had closed hours earlier and the cooks were back in the sleeping quarters. Bartender Lawrence McDonald was still inside, as were waitress Georgia Gould and her mother, Mary, who worked in the the hatcheck room.

"They were mean and they were tough," Genevieve Gillian said. "They really shoved us around."

In the confusion, one of the women slipped away and called the Sheriff's Department from a pay phone outside the restaurant. While Hancock took Andrew Gillian into the office to open the safe, Barrington followed McDonald, who had tried to escape.

Andrew Gillian said he didn't know the combination and Hancock warned him: "If you don't open the safe, I'll kill you."

At the entrance to the bar, Barrington put his .45 to McDonald's back and shot him just as the first police car arrived with Deputies Harold S. Blevins and Charles E. Covington.

Barrington shot Blevins in the head, killing him instantly, and Covington returned the gunfire, shooting five rounds, The Times said. Barrington was dead when he hit the ground, but in the gunfight, he shot Covington in the chest, with the bullet going through him and coming out his back.

1957_1013_hancock Hancock rushed to a window when he heard the gunfire, and his prisoners fled. More deputies and the watch commander arrived, sealing off the streets to capture Hancock. About 75 heavily armed officers surrounded the restaurant, and on the assumption that Hancock was still inside holding several hostages, shot teargas into the building.

The gas rousted the cooking staff from their sleeping quarters, but failed to flush Hancock from the restaurant. He was finally found hiding in a car parked in front of the liquor store. Deputies had to restrain Andrew Gillian to keep him from attacking Hancock, the Mirror said. "Let me at him!" Gillian yelled. "He hasn't got a gun now."

Hancock was sentenced to three life terms after being convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping for robbery, attempted robbery and attempted burglary. I can find no further trace of him.

Blevins, who was survived by his wife, Barbara Anne, daughters Brenda and Heidi, and his parents, was buried at Resurrection Cemetery after services at All Saints Catholic Church attended by hundreds of police officers.

"Minutes after her husband's casket was carried into the church, Mrs. Barbara Anne Blevins, the deputy's widow, collapsed on the sidewalk as she was being led from a car," The Times said. "A deputy lifted the sobbing woman into his arms and carried her inside."

McDonald apparently recovered from his wounds. Covington and Blevins were honored in a 1959 ceremony for LAPD officers and sheriff's deputies who had been killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Woody and Eddy's, 3007 Huntington Blvd., is now the location of a strip mall that includes a Starbucks and Howe's market.

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