Santa Ana Showdown

After Oscar Gallegos shot two Long Beach cops, he swore hed never be takenalive. His run for the border ended with a trip to a Santa Ana strip mall.

At the Performing Arts Center, police handcuff Frankie and drive him and his family to the police station. "They immediately took my wife to another room and I figured they were going to question her first," he recalls. "After a couple of hours went by the kids were sleepy and lay down next to me and I went to sleep as well. I felt a dude kick me in the leg." The detective brings Frankie into a room where two U.S. Marshals are waiting for him. "I told them the last time I saw [Oscar] was two days ago," he says.

A detective tells Frankie his story is "bullshit." Frankie repeats the lie—he hasn't seen Oscar since days before the shooting and has no idea where he is. The detective leaves the room and returns with Frankie's wife, who is in tears. "Just tell them the truth," she says.

Frankie looks at the detective. "I'm not going to turn my brother over to you guys," he says. "I love the dude. I know what he did was wrong, but he's my brother, man. I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

Frankie, left, and Tony with photo of Oscar in Mexico, photo by Russ Roca
Frankie, left, and Tony with photo of Oscar in Mexico, photo by Russ Roca
Officers Wade (L) and Yap: miraculously pulled through, photo courtesy LBPD
Officers Wade (L) and Yap: miraculously pulled through, photo courtesy LBPD

Then Frankie takes a deep breath and admits that he helped Oscar escape Long Beach just hours after his brother shot and nearly killed two cops. He tells them he knows Oscar will never surrender without a fight. "I told them that Oscar wasn't going to let them put handcuffs on him again," he says. "There was no way. I just knew it."

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Immediately after the shooting, Frankie is at home when Oscar calls him from the apartment unit he shares with his mother. "He told me, 'I fucked up, Frankie. I shot at the police,'" he says. "I was like, 'What the hell did you do that for?' and he said, 'I just wanted to get home to mom and get her out of here.' My mom got on the phone and I told her to get out of there, but she said, 'No, he's my son. They're not going to kill my son. If they do, I'm going to die with him.'"

Instead of begging Oscar to turn himself in, Frankie tells his brother to come to his house. "It took a while, but he made it here," he says. "I told him to hang out and I started driving around and I didn't even know what direction I was going in." Finally, Frankie calls his brother-in-law, tells him to go to his house and pick up Oscar, then drive to Santa Ana to meet him at a Sears outlet where they had recently purchased furniture. "That was the only place I knew in Santa Ana," he says. "I just wanted to get my brother out of the city."

After his brother-in-law drops Oscar off at the department store, Frankie exchanges vehicles with him and orders him to return to Long Beach with his truck. Then he drives off with Oscar. "We just drove around for a while," he says. "We got into a nice part of town, near Irvine, I think. There were big houses. It was a nice area. We talked briefly, just a normal conversation, and I gave him some money I had in my pocket and said that I had to get back to Long Beach—the police were going to be at my house."

Frankie knows he's never going to see his brother alive again. Not once during their drive does either mention what Oscar has just done or discuss why he did it. There is no tearful farewell. As Oscar gets out of the car, he looks back at Frankie and thanks him for the ride.

"Later bro," he says.

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