WTF. Metallica’s Robert Trujillo Shares Harrowing Manson Family Shootout Story From His Childhood

Charles Manson Photo by Albert Foster/Mirrorpix/Getty Images / Robert Trujillo: Alberto Cabello, CC BY 2.0,, Wikimedia Commons
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Did you know that at the age of six years old, Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo found himself near a shootout involving the Manson Family and police? It’s true – the shootout took place in 1971 in Hawthorne, California outside a former Western Surplus. The five members of the Family involved were planning to free Manson – who was in jail at the time – and tried to rob the store for weapons and ammunition.

Trujillo recounted this experience while taking part in a recent episode of The Offspring‘s podcast, Time to Relax with The Offspring. According to the bassist, he was at his grandma’s house with his family when the five Manson Family members attempted to rob the store; eventually, Trujillo started hearing guns going off. Reflecting on this experience, he shares the following (as transcribed by Blabbermouth):

“Charlie Manson just had gotten arrested. [I am] in Hawthorne, California. I’m staying at my grandma’s house. My cousin Greg and my cousin Roman — Greg’s a couple of years younger than me and Roman’s my age — and my dad, we were… For some reason, my grandparents were out at an event or something and weren’t in the house. The gun shop, the army surplus shop around the corner on Hawthorne Boulevard, was robbed. And basically, the Manson family had this grand scheme. You can check it out on the Internet.

“They were gonna rob the gun store and get their ammo and everything, and they were gonna go to [the Los Angeles airport] LAX, and the plan was hijack a 747 and demand that Charlie gets sent to them, and they’re gonna take this plane to God knows where. This is what they were thinking. Obviously, the plan didn’t work. Cops show up. There’s a shootout. We’re hearing gunshots, the whole deal. All of a sudden you get the ghetto birds, and they’re flying around. They’re talking through their kind of intercom, whatever they got going up there: ‘Everybody, take cover,’ whatever. And so my dad turns off all the lights. We’re hiding in the shower. And it was really eerie. It was kinda like that scene in ‘Close Encounters’ where you see the light come through the windows.”

The Metallica bassist goes on to add:

“So, basically between the ghetto birds, the helicopters and the cops shining these bright flashlights, my dad at one point opened the door to see what was going on, and they were, like, ‘Get the fuck back in the house now!’ Like that. So, one of the Manson members went to the carport, because it was an apartment complex — one of those kind of Hawthorne-style seven-unit places. Not huge. And he was hiding back there in the carport. So, of course, they surrounded our place. And my grandparents, they owned the unit. So, they had the larger unit. And, yeah, the dude was hiding back there. And luckily, there was a laundry room that kind of separated the unit that we were in. So he would have gone into the window of the laundry room, which could have been the window of the house and taken hostage.”

Trujillo concludes the story, sharing, “And so they arrested about three of them… But the plan was that they were gonna hijack a plane at LAX and they were gonna get Charlie released and take hostages and they were gonna fly to — I don’t know — Mexico or something.”

Holy shit that is one hell of an experience. As noted by Los Angeles Magazine, it’s reported that only minor injuries took place as a result of the shootout, with the Family members joining Manson in custody. Below you can check out the entirety of Time to Relax with The Offspring episode 5, which features Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.