On October 20, 1981 heavily armed terrorists staged a daylight assault on a Brinks armored car at the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, New York. In the attack that followed, Brinks guard Peter Paige was killed and Joseph Trombino seriously wounded, nearly losing his arm to the gunman’s bullets. Another Brinks guard, James Kelly, suffered wounds and a concussion as the gunmen pumped automatic weapon fire into the armored vehicle.
After leaving the mall the gunmen fled east, ditching their getaway car and entering the rear of a waiting U-Haul truck being driven by co-conspirators. This was an attempt to escape detection, as the participants knew that the police would be on the lookout for the male blacks that robbed the armored car. The gunmen were to be driven to safety by white accomplices, thinking they would easily escape back to New York City in the confusion immediately following the robbery.
Unfortunately for them a high school student witnessed the switch from the original getaway car to the U-Haul. Looking out her bedroom window, she notified the local police and an alert was broadcast to officers on patrol.
Ten minutes later Nyack Police officers were conducting a roadblock at Exit 11 of the New York State Thruway. Spotting a U-Haul, they ordered it to the side of the road. The driver and passenger in the front of the U-Haul did not match the description of the gunmen at the mall. Further, police radio transmissions had broadcast reports of another U-Haul being spotted heading south into New Jersey on Rt. 304.
Kathy Boudin, an occupant of the U-Haul, complained to the police that their guns made her nervous. Apparently, thinking they had the wrong U-Haul, the police stowed their weapons and shotgun. At that moment the rear of the U-Haul flew open and half a dozen heavily armed killers jumped out, each with military-style fully automatic weapons. Police Officer Waverly Brown was hit immediately and died at the scene. Detective Arthur Keenan was struck before he was able to take cover and return fire. Sgt. Edward O’Grady was shot numerous times and died ninety minutes later at Nyack Hospital. Officer Brian Lennon exchanged shots but was seriously outnumbered and under heavy fire.
At the time, Nyack Police carried six shot standard issue revolvers that were no match for the firepower of the heavily armed terrorists. Tests later conducted by law enforcement found that the killer’s guns were capable of shooting over 100 bullets per minute. O’Grady and Brown were the first Rockland County police officers shot to death in modern times.
In the confusion afterwards the killers fled in all directions. The Nyack community was overcome with a feeling of grief as it prepared to bury two of its own. Many of the killers were caught that day, some in the days, weeks and months to follow. Kathy Boudin was captured by an off-duty New York City corrections officer, Mike Koch, who witnessed the shootout and her attempted escape as she had fled the scene running near the New York State Thruway.
South Nyack - Grand View Police Chief Alan Colsey caught three other accomplices after a harrowing chase. Colsey pursued two escaping vehicles operated by the terrorists along Christian Herald Road and Midland Avenue until one of the vehicles crashed into a brick wall at Sixth Ave. and Broadway. Reports indicate that the occupants attempted to fire their weapons at the Chief, but they could not locate their ammunition in the aftermath of the violent crash. The other vehicle, containing Marilyn Jean Buck, Mutulu Shakur and others, made good their escape that day, but the bulk of the stolen Brinks money was recovered in the vehicle at Sixth Avenue.
Most of the terrorists were sentenced to prison on a variety of state and federal charges, never to see the light of day again. Kathy Boudin however, entered into a plea agreement that guaranteed she would spend twenty years to life in prison before coming up for parole. Her parole hearing is scheduled for August 2001. She could be released by the fall.