The North Hollywood battle took place on February 28, 1997, in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, between two heavily armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu, and LAPD officers (LAPD).
The criminals and police exchanged about 2,000 rounds of gunfire, killing both bandits, wounding 12 police officers and eight civilians, and damaging or destroying multiple cars and other property. At 9:17 a.m., Phillips and Mătăsăreanu broke into a Bank of America branch in North Hollywood and stole money.
When the two bank robbers left, LAPD officers encircled them, and a shootout ensued between the authorities and the crooks. The robbers attempted to flee the scene while exchanging fire with cops, Phillips on foot and Mătăsăreanu in their getaway car.
Phillips died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on a residential street near the bank; Mătăsăreanu was crippled by officers three blocks away and lost a lot of blood before ambulances arrived more than an hour later.
Phillips and Mătăsăreanu are accused of stealing at least two more banks by smashing through “bullet-proof” security doors, seizing the entire bank, and firing firearms that had been illegally modified to fire fully automatic fire. They’re also accused of robbing two armored vehicles.
At the time, most municipal police officers carried 9mm pistols.38 Special revolvers as standard issue sidearms, with some patrol vehicles additionally carrying a 12-gauge shotgun. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu had a Norinco Type 56 rifle (a Chinese version of the AK-47), a Bushmaster XM-15 Dissipator with a 100-round drum magazine, and a Heckler & Koch HK91 rifle, all of which had been illegally modified to include select-fire capabilities, as well as a Beretta 92FS handgun.
The criminals had custom-made body armor that effectively protected them from the authorities’ handguns and shotgun pellets. A SWAT team arrived with higher-caliber weapons, but they had little effect on the two criminals’ substantial body armor. Furthermore, the SWAT team commandeered an armored vehicle to evacuate the injured.
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