Watch the full episode of ‘I Was There When…” in the player above, as Conan Nolan takes you back to that day in 1994, and reveals what it was like reporting from a car with the chase behind him.
Conan Nolan started with NBC4 in 1986 and is the chief political reporter for the station as well as the anchor of ‘NewsConference,’ the longest running political/public affairs program in Southern California. He’s had a front row seat to covering national, state and local news for nearly 40 years.
He’s seen a lot during his time as a journalist, but one story he’ll never forget was the O.J. Simpson murder case. The world watched police pursue Simpson. Nolan – on the other hand – got in front of the infamous white Bronco.
In NBCLA’s new series, “I Was There When…,” our anchors and reporters take you behind the scenes of some of the craziest stories to have rocked Southern California and beyond – including the chase seen ’round the world.
Below, find a condensed version of our May 10 Reddit AMA with Nolan.
Did you track the filming of the Bronco on that Friday all the way back to the Rockingham estate?
Nolan: Close. We peeled off just before he took the offramp to Rockingham. Two cars collided in front of us and I narrowly avoided them (was driving at the time). Felt it was best to get out of the way than to end up being part of the story if we somehow ended up in a collision with the Bronco or any other cars on the freeway.
What was going through your head when you were on the freeway during the Bronco chase?
Nolan: Earlier, Robert Kardashian (his friend) had read a note from O.J. Simpson that sounded like he was in a position mentally to take his own life. When I heard he was in the backseat of the Bronco with a gun, I was afraid that if he saw us, he would use it on himself. I elaborate on it in the “I Was There When…” series.
Any gruesome murders, or serial killers you covered that never gained national attention?
Nolan: Bill Suff. He worked for the county of Riverside, and once in a county employee newsletter, he offered his van for carpooling. It’s the same van he used for raping and murdering 12 or more women in Riverside County between 1989 and 1991. He was even responsible as a county employee for providing the furniture and type writers for the task force that had been set up to find him. He’s currently incarcerated.
When did homelessness and crime in Los Angeles reach its high and its low?
Nolan: They’re two different issues. Crime was rampant in the late 80s and early 90s. There were weekends we posted more deaths than the civil war in Lebanon. There was open warfare between rival gangs, and the crack cocaine epidemic was at its height.
Homelessness has never been worse. You’re living through the worst homeless crisis which is why it’s the primary issue in the race for mayor of Los Angeles.