Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
North Hollywood shootout
On February 28, 1997, two bank robbers armed with AK-47s robbed the Bank of America in North Hollywood, California. After 5 minutes, 3 civilians and 9 police officers had been hit and a TAC (tactical) alert was issued. Ultimately, 350 officers were called to the scene. The suspects also fired on news helicopters. The suspects fired approximately 1,100 rounds of ammunition in one of the most violent shootouts in U.S. law enforcement history.
After a long running gun battle, which saw the police borrowing guns from a gun shop, one suspect apparently shot himself and the other was finally shot by SWAT team members. The suspects were identified as Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. and Emil Dechebal Matasareanu. 12 police cars were shot to pieces, and 11 officers and 6 civilians were shot. Nevertheless, the only people to die in the entire shootout were the two gunmen.
The shooting had similarities to an earlier shootout in Norco, California on May 9, 1980.
The incident highlighted the growing discrepancies between police offensive and defensive technologies and the technologies available to criminals. Video footage of the incident clearly shows bullets fired by the police officers impacting the suspects with little to no effect, mostly due to ballistic armor worn by the suspects which was able to stop the .38 caliber and 9mm projectiles fired by the officers. The ineffectiveness of the rounds in penetrating the ballistic armor of the suspects lead to a nationwide movement of arming some squad cars and officers with small-caliber assault rifles like the M16 assault rifle to allow first responders the ability to effectively combat heavily armed and armored subjects.
- North Hollywood Shootout MVP documentary by James Strauss (see amazon.com for reviews)
- Radio recording & summary
- Police viewpoint
- Norco shootout
- LAPD Top Cops awards for officers mentioned above, with details of the shootout
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