The Best Shootout Ever! (North Hollywood 1997)

The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily armed bank robbers and officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles on February 28, 1997. Both perpetrators were killed, eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and other property were damaged or destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the perpetrators and the police. At approximately 9:30 am (UTC-8), Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu entered and robbed the North Hollywood Bank of America branch. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were confronted by dozens of LAPD officers when they exited the bank and a shootout between the officers and robbers ensued. The two robbers attempted to flee the scene, Phillips on foot and Mătăsăreanu in their getaway vehicle, while continuing to engage the officers. The shootout continued onto a residential street adjacent to the bank until Phillips was mortally wounded, including by a self-inflicted gunshot wound; Mătăsăreanu was killed by officers three blocks away. In addition to the two perpetrators, eleven officers and seven civilians sustained injuries. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu had robbed several armored vehicles prior to their attempt in North Hollywood and were notorious for their heavy armament, which included automatic rifles. Local patrol officers at the time were typically armed with 9 mm or .38 Special pistols on their person, with some having a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu carried fully automatic rifles, with ammunition capable of penetrating police body armor, and wore military grade body armor of their own. Since the police handguns could not penetrate the bank robbers' body armor, the patrol officers' efforts were ineffective. SWAT eventually arrived with weapons that could penetrate and several officers also appropriated AR-15 rifles from a nearby firearms dealer. The incident sparked debate on the appropriate firepower for patrol officers to have available in similar situations in the future. Due to the large number of casualties, rounds fired, weapons used and overall length of the shootout, it is regarded as the longest and bloodiest event in US police history.

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