Heroic dog shot



Dec. 11, 1957

Los Angeles

This began as a story about a dog and ended in death.

On Dec. 10, 1957, a gunman shot a German shepherd named Baron that had
been ordered to attack as the robber was leaving a liquor store at
15023 Leffingwell Road, La Mirada.

The Times said that clerk Robert M. Nelson had taken precautions after
a previous holdup by concealing a .45-caliber pistol under the counter
and teaching his dog to attack. When the robber was backing out of the
store, Nelson dropped behind the counter, fired at the gunman and
ordered: "Get him, Baron!"

Nelson missed, but Baron was almost on top of the gunman when he was
shot twice in the chest, with one bullet lodging near his spine. The
dog was taken to a local veterinarian, where he was under observation
to see if he would recover from being partially paralyzed.

This close call did nothing to dissuade the gunman from further
holdups, however, and on Dec. 26, 1957, he shot clerk Paul Robertson,
44, as he and a companion were robbing a liquor store at 14317
Studebaker Road, Norwalk. Robertson lingered for a few days before
dying of a bullet wound to the abdomen.

On Jan. 6, 1958, police in Las Vegas arrested Nyals A. Andreason, 16,
and Charles Galbraith, 16, as runaways and found they were carrying
$300 ($2,149.59 USD 2006) and a .22-caliber revolver. Under
questioning, the youths admitted they were part of the "Black Mask
Gang," a group of Norwalk teenagers that was responsible for killing
Robertson and for the holdup in which Baron was shot.

To say that Nyals T. Andreason, the principal of Centennial
Intermediate School in Norwalk, was stunned by the arrest of his oldest
son is to do injustice to the word.

Andreason, a devout Mormon and the founder of the Norwalk YMCA, didn’t
think it was possible. Nyals was a "sweet boy," he said. In fact, "They
were all good boys, just trying a crazy adventure." He had no idea
Nyals had bought a .22 on a Thanksgiving trip to Utah, he said.

Nyals didn’t need the money, his father said. "He saved $200 from
delivering papers. He works in a supermarket and does a wonderful job.
He has two bank accounts–one with $150 and the other with $190."

Andreason refused to believe the allegations until he heard the
confession from his son’s lips. Wasn’t the Excelsior High School
student "considered by his teachers as ‘one of the nicest boys in the
school?’ "

"He’s broken up," the father told The Times. "He said, ‘Dad, I didn’t
mean to hurt anyone. I was just doing it for a lark. The fellow told us
to get out and I was just going to shoot at a bottle.’ "

In identifying gang members, Nyals implicated his younger brother
Aaron, 14, and said they were also responsible for robbing another
liquor store at 14147 Imperial Blvd., and burglarizing Norwalk High

Nyals and gang member William G. Hughes were tried as adults
and convicted of manslaughter and robbery.

Paroled in less than a year, Nyals A. Andreason was arrested in 1963
after he drew a .22-caliber semiautomatic on two sheriff’s deputies in
Norwalk (50 years ago, officers were apparently far less likely to use
deadly force than they are today). He was charged with the armed robbery of two homes in
Pico Rivera.

The Times never pursued this story, so there’s no further information
on Nyals A. Andreason or his father. According to an online obituary,
Nyals T. Andreason and his wife, Mary, who died in 2005, were active in
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon retirement
moved back to Salina, Utah. We can only hope that in later years,
things somehow turned out for the best.

And no, we don’t know what became of Baron.   

Email me

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Homicide, Robberies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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