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The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily-armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, and patrol and SWAT officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in North Hollywood, California on February 28, 1997. Phillips and Matasareanu engaged responding patrol officers in a firefight when they attempted to leave the bank they had just robbed; sixteen officers and civilians were wounded before both of them were shot down.

Phillips and Matasareanu arrived at the Bank of America branch office at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Blvd. and Archwood St. in North Hollywood around 9:17 a.m., and set their watch alarms for 8 minutes, which was the amount of time they estimated it would take for law enforcement officials to respond. (Phillips had been using a radio scanner to listen to police transmissions.)10 As they walked into the bank, however, dressed in dark clothes from head to toe and armed with an assault rifle each, a patrol car of the LAPD was driving down Laurel Canyon—and the officers in the car radioed in a possible 211, code for an armed robbery.11 Inside the bank, Phillips and Matasareanu forced the assistant manager to open the vault; they fired at least 100 rounds to scare those inside the bank so that there would be no resistance.12 They were able to get just over $300,000, since that day's money delivery had not yet arrived.8 At 9:38 a.m., Phillips exited the bank through its north doorway, Matasareanu exited through its south doorway, and they encountered dozens of LAPD patrol officers who had arrived after the first-responding officers radioed a "shots fired" call.13

Phillips and Matasareanu engaged the officers in a firefight, spraying armor-piercing (full metal jacket) rounds into the patrol cars that had been positioned on Laurel Canyon in front of the bank. The patrol officers were armed with standard Beretta 92FS 9 mm pistols and .38 caliber revolvers, and some also carried Ithaca 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, but the body armor worn by Phillips and Matasareanu was strong enough to withstand them.8 Multiple officers and civilians were wounded in the 7 minutes between when the shooting began and Matasareanu entered their white sedan to make a getaway; Phillips remained outside of the vehicle and continued firing upon the police.8 A TAC (tactical) alert was issued, and 18 minutes after the shooting had begun, a SWAT team—armed with automatic weapons—arrived in response to the alert and engaged Phillips and Matasareanu; they also commandeered an armored truck which they used to extract wounded civilians and officers who were pinned down.8 A nearby gun shop, B&B Sales owned by Bob Kahn, provided the outgunned officers with multiple rifles, including Colt AR-15s, the civilian version of the American M-16 rifle. None of the borrowed rifles were used in the shootout, however they were not immediately returned to the store either.14
Map of the area around the Bank of America (blue) and events during the shootout. A red "X" marks the spot where Phillips and Matasareanu were shot down.
Map of the area around the Bank of America (blue) and events during the shootout. A red "X" marks the spot where Phillips and Matasareanu were shot down.

At 9:51 a.m., Phillips, who had been using the getaway vehicle as cover, split up from Matasareanu, turned east on Archwood St., and continued to fire at the police with his AKM.15 He reloaded the assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine shortly before he was shot in the left thumb, which may have prevented him from removing the shell that caused a stovepipe malfunction in his AKM.8 He set it down, pulled out a Beretta pistol, and continued firing at the police with his unwounded right hand. He dropped the pistol and picked it up, and shortly thereafter, Phillips placed the muzzle of his pistol under his chin and apparently shot himself while a round from a police sniper's rifle simultaneously severed his spine.16 The question remains as to whether Phillips intentionally committed suicide or accidentally squeezed the trigger when his spine was severed while attempting to reload his weapon one-handed.17

Matasareanu's vehicle was rendered nearly inoperable after its tires were blown out.8 At 9:56 a.m., he commandeered a pickup truck on Archwood, three blocks east of where Phillips was shot down, and transferred all of his weapons and ammunition from the getaway car to the truck.18 However, Matasareanu was unable to start the truck since its owner had taken the keys with him when he fled.8 A patrol car driven by SWAT officers quickly arrived—Matasareanu left the truck, took cover behind the original getaway car, and engaged them immediately. At least one SWAT officer fired his M-16 below the cars and wounded Matasareanu in his unprotected lower legs, and he soon surrendered.8 The police radioed for an ambulance, but Matasareanu succumbed to his wounds by the time the ambulance had reached the scene.

Most of the incident, including the death of Phillips and the capture of Matasareanu, was captured on tape by news helicopters that hovered over the scene and televised the action as events unfolded.19 Over 300 various law enforcement officers had responded to the city-wide TAC alert.20 By the time the shooting had stopped, Phillips and Matasareanu had fired about 1,300 rounds.8 Phillips was hit 11 times, including the self-inflicted shot to the head; Matasareanu was hit 29 times, and died from shock caused by blood loss.19
The North Hollywood Shootout happened on my birthday.
by Andizzle4SHizzle August 20, 2007
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shoot out between two crazy ass russians and almost the entire LAPD, last 46 minutes on 2/28/97(my 7th b-day)

the LAPD had to almost rob a gun store so to say to prevale but still did
dude: the 46 minutes movie sucks
man: dude its a documentary on the north hollywood shoot out
dude: whoa cool
man: what a day that was
by jizzle dizzle July 21, 2006
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