this day in crime history: february 28, 1997

On this date in 1997, LAPD officers patrolling North Hollywood saw two heavily armed masked men enter the Bank of America Branch on Laurel Canyon Blvd. Several minutes later the men left the bank with over $300,000 in cash. By that time, several other police units had arrived on the scene to provide backup. The robbers, Larry Phillips (above left) and Emil Matasareanu (above right) were ready for a confrontation with police; they were each carrying multiple weapons, had thousands of rounds of ammunition, and had taken phenobarbital prior to the robbery to calm their nerves. To make matters worse, they were both wearing body armor.

The robbers opened fire on the officers. In the ensuing gun battle, which lasted over 40 minutes, officers fired over 600 rounds, the robbers over 1000. Overmatched by the robbers’ superior firepower, officers went to a local gun store to procure better weapons.

The shootout ended with the death of both suspects. Ten officers and seven civilians were injured.

You can see pictures from my 2008 trip to the scene here.

Here’s a video about the robbery:

Further reading:

Wikipedia – North Hollywood shootout

4 thoughts on “this day in crime history: february 28, 1997

  1. John D.:
    I always try to guess the crime by looking at the faces…I had NO idea it was the N. Hollywood shooters from ’97 until I scrolled down.

    And options for officers on which long guns to carry has never been the same since.
    They’ve been BETTER, and unfortunately we had to learn it the hard way.

    Kinda sucks when you have to run into a gunshop and grab an AR to “borrow”, because the department didn’t issue anything powerful enough to deal with these thugs.
    In the end, the bad guys lost…the way it should be.

    Good post.

    Roll safe out there.


    • It’d be even worse if it had happened today. That gun shop went out of business due to increased regulation and fees in Los Angeles. Last time I was there (2008), it was an upscale grocery store.


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