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

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

  1. John D.:
    This always makes me wonder…if THESe two hadn’t brought about a serious CHANGE in police tactics as well as officers carrying more powerful and ranged long guns, WHO would have and how much worse could that outcome have been?
    Good call.

    Roll safe out there.


    • They did, in a way similar to how Platt and Matix changed the FBI’s tactics after the shootout in Miami. That incident was why the Bureau adopted the 10MM in the late 80s. This one in LA is why patrol rifles are now carried by supervisors.


  2. Reblogged this on Free from Tech Life and commented:
    I remember seeing this on the news. That sinking feeling when you realise the Police are out-gunned.
    Didn’t LAPD end up ‘borrowing’ higher powered weapons from a local gun store?


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