The Daring Escape of the
Using darkness as a cloak of cover, the Texas 7 slipped out of their Econo Lodge motel room at night and began scouting around the Dallas metroplex for their next target. They needed money and clothing before they moved on, and they needed it fast. Using the police scanners that they had stolen from the Radio Shack in Pearland, they were reasonably confident that the authorities did not suspect that they were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It didn't take long before they settled on an Oshman's sporting goods store in nearby Irving for their next robbery. George Rivas had robbed an Oshman's before with one accomplice and, although he had ultimately been unsuccessful and was caught and sent to prison, in his cockiness he felt confident that with all the help he now had he could pull off a successful heist there and get away before the police realized that the Texas 7 were the perpetrators. After discussing it with the others, they decided that December 24, Christmas Eve, would be a good day to hold up the store. Rivas was counting on a large take because of all the last minute shoppers.
As it turned out, it would become a heist worthy of a Hollywood movie.
The seven escaped convicts arrived at the Oshman's located at State Highway 183 and Beltline Road just before the store's 6 p.m. closing time. At least three of them were wearing dark pants, gray shirts, and dark hats that read "Security." The same three men had arm patches on their shirts that read, "APS," the name of a security service. They were wandering around the store, pretending that they were doing their last minute Christmas shopping while they posed as off-duty security guards. One store employee later recalled that they looked like the security guards that work in the schools.
Shortly after 6 p.m., after the last of the legitimate customers had exited the store and the security gates had been closed, the three men approached the store managers and asked them to call all of the employees to a counter at the front of the store. They explained that they wanted to show the employees a number of photographs of young people who had been recently robbing businesses in the area. The managers, believing that the request was legitimate, complied. As soon as all of the employees were gathered at the counter, one of the three men pulled out a pistol and pointed it in the air. Even then the employees didn't think that a robbery was taking place; they merely thought that they were being shown what would happen if one of the robbers that the "security agents" were telling them about showed up. In fact, the employees didn't suspect that anything was amiss until one of the workers attempted to make a telephone call to a friend.
"Hang up that phone!" one of the men commanded, waving a gun and announcing that a robbery was in progress.
The gunmen then forced the employees to place their hands on the glass counter where they were gathered, after which they were frisked. Their wallets containing cash and identification were taken, as were a number of pocketknives that some of the employees had been carrying. They were then forced to form a straight line and were ordered to walk to the back of the store to the employee break room. Everyone, except for the store's manager, Wesley Farris, was forced to face a wall and kneel down. In an apparent show of force designed as a warning to the others to cooperate, one employee was roughed up when one of the robbers punched him in the ribs and slammed his head against the wall.
"If you don't f*** up, you'll see Christmas," one of the thieves said to the employees.
Similar to the methods used in the breakout of the Connally Unit, some of the employees were bound with plastic zip-ties and others were tied up with their belts. Employees were forced to cross their legs, which the thieves then bound with rope.
Although the fugitives were carrying two-way radios, they did not use them much. However, at one point one of them, presumably the leader, told the others: "If you kill one of them, you'll have to kill them all."
Satisfied that the employees were securely bound and would not cause them any problems, the thieves took Farris, the store manager, and forced him to open the store's safe. Three cash deposits amounting to more than $70,000 for Christmas Eve's receipts had been placed into the safe, and they took all of it. They also went through each of the store's cash registers and removed cash and checks. Afterward, still forcing Ferris to accompany them, they went around the store and took at least 40 guns and ammunition, and filled a couple of shopping carts full of winter clothing and other supplies. By 6:25 p.m. they had taken all that they wanted and were ready to exit by the store's rear freight door. Before leaving, however, they took the keys to Farris's Ford Explorer, forcing him to tell them where it was parked.
They might have gotten away unscathed had it not been for an off-duty employee who, from outside the store, noticed their suspicious activity through a window and called the police.