The North Hollywood Bank Robbery Shootout

By Mike Floorwalker on Thursday, September 12, 2013
bank
“Stolen sweets are best.” —Colley Cibber, The Rival Fools

In A Nutshell

One day in 1997, two professional bank robbers were engaged by patrol cops after their latest job in Los Angeles. Equipped with body armor and high-capacity assault rifles, they engaged in a 44-minute firefight with dozens of police officers that led to new standards for how such situations are dealt with.

The Whole Bushel

Emil Matasareanu and Larry Phillips Jr. were bank robbers: That was their job. Their assignment on February 28, 1997 probably would have gone off without a hitch had they not been spotted by two LAPD patrol officers as they entered the bank. There was no mistaking their intention, dressed as they were in black ski masks and about 40 pounds each of body armor.

Realizing they had been spotted after cleaning out the vault, they opted for a course of action not many bank robbers have tried before or since. Rather than take hostages or make demands, they took their money, walked out of the surrounded bank, and started shooting. Dozens of cops with 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols returned fire—for the better part of an hour.

Their body armor kept the shooters upright as they squeezed off hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They carried HK-91 (semi-automatic) and AR-15 (fully automatic) assault rifles, and the police simply had no idea how to respond. The shooters carried with them a trunk full of thousands of rounds and extra weapons and would calmly discard one gun for another when one ran dry.

One gunman was finally shot in the head at close range after suffering multiple wounds, as even body armor won’t hold up forever. The other collapsed from blood loss and later died after failing to commandeer a truck and engaging in a six-minute solo battle. In November of the same year, the Omaha, Nebraska police department became the first to graduate a class equipped with AR-15s of their own, and the LAPD was quick to follow suit in offering the option to their officers. The incident changed the way departments across the country and around the world arm their patrol officers—the first in which police found themselves so profoundly outgunned—but amazingly, though 12 police and eight civilians were injured, the gunmen were the only two fatalities.

Show Me The Proof

Botched L.A. bank heist turns into bloody shootout
How the North Hollywood Shootout Changed Patrol Arsenals
North Hollywood shootout, 15 years later

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Too bad they didn’t pop off a few pigs…

    • Phil_42

      you are quite the dick aren’t you?

      • Exiled Phoenix

        Why? Cops aren’t people. Most of those idiots feel entitled to do what they want. A few more dead ones wouldn’t matter.

        • Floorwalker

          >sigh< No wonder you've been exiled.
          Look, I used to like gangster rap as much as the next guy, but saying that any group of people "aren't people" exposes you as having an extremely underdeveloped worldview at the least, and we won't get into what it makes you at the most. Who do I want to see if I'm driving down the street with a tail light out? Not a cop. Who do I want to see if someone broke into my house and stole all my shit? Not Spider-Man.
          A lot of cops abuse power- hell, I've written lists about it. They're still necessary in society, because without them, we would eat ourselves alive you know it. We'll see where your badass ant-authoritarian streak against these non-people goes when you're a victim of violent crime… or someone you love is.

          • MerryMarjie

            Prepare for hate mail. I got a ton of it trying to stand up for the police. Look, I’m as liberal as anything, and I know there are a lot of power-drunk cops out there, but they actually add up to a very small percentage of officers. The good cops get very little local PR, but the bad cops get splashed over national headlines. (The power of the press is so tremendous that it can change history, as we know from “guy you want to have a beer with” Bush and “bumbling guy who thinks he invented the Internet” Gore.)

          • Exiled Phoenix

            I have never sent hatemail and view that as low. I post my comments when I think the issue is something I want to post. Also I enjoy open forums as it gives you various opinions and a view as to how other people think.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            To be honest I am surprised why you would bring up music as a point since I made no mention of it. I prefer music of all sorts, from 50 cent, Elvis, Brad Paisley, Ray Lomontagne, Joshua Radin, various other genres. I live in a smaller town, police here are useless. To protect myself from threats I have a permit for a concealed weapon and haveade my peace with killing someone if I believe they are a threat to me or another innocent person around me. I would call the police, because you have to file a report, but believe you me, I
            would also hunt down the individuals personally and without drawing attention to my actions if possible, to settle the score.

          • DarthPoot

            Off topic, and late, I thought they mostly used ak’s and 75 round drums?

        • g.g.palin

          No more donut shops…

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Never really cared for donuts, so not a big loss.

        • Dumas911

          SOME!!! Not MOST act like that. That’s the same as saying all blacks are drug dealers, or criminals, etc…you can’t hold all responsible for a minority’s actions. They only show the bad cops on tv not the fair, law abiding officers.

          • Fuckrdup

            What about the officers who ran for cover but left the civilians to die behind a police car!? There is no cop anywhere in the picture of the civilians wounded. I could have protected them better myself! Heroes!!? Ithinknot

        • Dumas911

          Bring your ass through my town and I’ll show you what we CAN DO. I couple bad apples doesn’t ruin the dozen so this means your a asshole that breaks the law but gets mad at us instead of yourself for getting caught. Fucking moron.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            “Bring your ass through my town and I’ll show you what we CAN DO.”
            Typical police procedure, claim sovereignty over an area and threaten anyone that disagrees or you don’t like. You’re no better than the rest, and I wouldn’t care if you fell like them either. Even if I happened to see a cop shot by another person, only response I would give in court on the subject would be ” I do not recall” and that would be by choice!

          • Dumas911

            I hope someone breaks into your home, ties you up, and sodomizes you for days. Bet you scream for the police then. Your a typical criminal that doesn’t like the police cause your to stupid to not get caught, but get mad at the cops for outsmarting you.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Lmfao, first I have a high grade security system installed and am always within arms reach of a weapon. I trust myself more than any cop. Second, I have never been in trouble with the law, yet know they are untrustworthy at best. I already know and understand having a lawyer in retainer and if I am arrested, I don’t get a phone call, yet do have every right to speak to legal representation within reasonable time from first being detained and can not be interrogated until then. You seem to be under the assumption that I look for trouble with the police, honestly I prefer to have zero association with them because, I DO NOT TRUST THE POLICE FORCE.

          • Fuckrdup

            No they can do what they want including interrogate without you having an attorney. Whos going to stop them!!? Their boss! A judge!! Whos going to win incourt everytime! Its no longer innocent until proven guilty but guilty til proven innocent

          • Fuckrdup

            Police are never there when you need them and if he did call the cops for someone breaking in and sodomizing him, yoll would probly just look for a reason to take him to jail instead of trying to find the suspect

      • smh

        im in the middle that’s a dick comment however it highly depends where u live. like how floorwalked was saying who do u wanna see if u get robbed not spiderman. where I live yes id rather see spiderman. firstly I had someone break into my house and steal a few xbox games and my Mossberg 500 well one of my family members drove over to see if I was ok while the cop was doin his thing. well the cop had a history with this family member (not criminally) so he dropped everything he was doin (cause u know if someone stole a shotgun their probably only goin hunting with it (sarcasm)) to check an see if my familys car didn’t have anyexpired tags or city stickers. then another time someone set my fathers truck on fire which sat right above our fuel oil tank which would of killed everyone in my house and everyone in the neighbors house. the truck was burnt down to its wheels. well the person who did it left a note with their handwriting funny enough handwriting that everyone in my family could say was without a shout of a doubt theirs. yet the big shot hand writing analyzer couldn’t figure it out almost as if the guy was an informant, which wouldn’t make since because where we live the worst shit that happens are drug conspiracys and maybe robberies. so while u shouldn’t generalize all cops as evil u definatly shouldn’t act like its a rare occurance because where I live 75% of the cops are crooked/lazy/down right dumb

      • Dumas911

        No he’s a dick sucker! Bet he would beg for the police if a serial killer was fucking his shit up!

        • Fuckrdup

          Maybe. Or he would hold his own and b a man

    • g.g.palin

      It’s the lapd fuck em they are fairly corupt. However people should not be killed though even if they did kill biggie and tu-pac.

  • g.g.palin

    I think George Carlin opens one of his specials talking about that.

  • http://www.seguebythesea.com/ segue

    Yikes! I lived just a few blocks away from that bank when the robbery and shoot out occurred. I was online working in a small studio in the back yard of my house when suddenly there were multiple loud explosive sounds, followed by a few seconds silence, then more loud bangs. The air was filled with the sound of helicopters, sirens,
    pop-pop-poppoppoppoppop. The television coverage was almost immediate, but no one in the neighborhood needed the television to tell us what was going on. Or where.
    It was truly terrifying.

  • Jake Fuller

    Huh? It says in Seconds from Disaster and its Discovery counterpart, that the other one committed suicide after being struck with a bullet to the hand unable to clear the jammed round in his assault rifle he took his own life? :

    • Dumas911

      Phillips shot himself at the exact moment an officer shot him through the spine. You can see it happen in slow motion.

  • Dumas911

    For all you bitching mf against cops it is a Supreme Court ruling that cops have description if they want to take a call or not. We are not required to go on ANY call unless we want. Look it up, there’s been several case rulings supporting this. Now bitch about the Supreme Court not the cops.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      It’s called Discretion, not “description” learn to spell. Also yeah I’d rather just use my concealed weapon, that I have a permit for before ever calling the cops. I’d stand a better chance as I trust my aim more.

      • Dumas911

        1st off it was a typo, 2nd big bog I’ll put my expert shooting, and sniper training against your sideways gun holding ass any day. Your the reason we don’t need concealed handgun licenses cause your just looking for an excuse to use it. Untill you look down that scope and see the mans face who’s life your fixing to take then argue with me. It make a difference.

        • Exiled Phoenix

          No, shooting someone that I believe to want to cause me or someone around me harm, I have no qualms about shooting them. If I feel remorse after, fine I can deal with that. Also I am a member of the N.R.A and shoot weekly at a shooting range that is partially funded by them. I have an accurate aim. Third, why would I need sniper skill, I have a concealed weapons permit for a handgun, not a sniper rifle. I would only use my weapon in self defence. Snipers are offensive personnel.

          • Dumas911

            Good reply. No smartass comments, just a reasonable conversations.

  • Dumas911

    Phillips actually shot himself at the exact time an officer shot him through the spine. Matasareanu was finally brought off his feet by officers shooting under the cars and dies from blood loss later. Both had taken large amounts of barbiturates which allowed them both to take I’ve 25 shots each and still keep fighting. We were show everything, even the autopsy at the academy.

    • Fuckrdup

      I would like to know more about that autopsy

  • john hunter pascoe

    one of them kicked the bucket than go to jail