North Hollywood Shootout

Topics Crime


The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two armed bank robbers and officers of the LA Police Department in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles in 1997. Both robbers were killed, eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and other property were damaged or destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the robbers and the police.

At approximately 9:30am, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu entered and robbed the North Hollywood Bank of America branch. Phillips and Matasareanu were confronted by dozens of LAPD officers when they exited the bank and a shootout between the officers and robbers ensued.

The two robbers attempted to flee the scene, Phillips on foot and Matasareanu in their getaway vehicle, while continuing to engage the police officers. The shootout continued onto a residential street adjacent to the bank until Phillips was mortally wounded, including by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Phillips and Matasareanu are believed to have robbed two other banks using virtually identical methods by taking control of the entire bank and firing automatic weapons for control and entry past ‘bullet-proof’ security doors, and are possible suspects in two armored vehicle robberies.

Local patrol officers at the time were typically armed with their personal 9 mm or .38 Special pistols, with some having a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Matasareanu carried fully automatic AK-47 and M16 rifles with high capacity drum magazines and ammunition capable of penetrating police body armor. They pair also wore military grade body armor of their own. Since the police handguns could not penetrate the bank robbers body armor, the patrol officers’ bullets were ineffective. SWAT eventually arrived with rifles powerful enough to penetrate the body armor. Several officers also appropriated AR-15 rifles from a nearby firearms dealer.

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