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19 Facts About The North Hollywood Shootout, One Of The Most Notorious Modern Bank Robberies

Updated June 24, 2021 84.2k views19 items

On February 28, 1997, Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu walked into a bank in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles and started the clock on 44 of the most violent minutes to ever occur in Southern California. What was meant to be a simple North Hollywood bank robbery became the catalyst for the militarization of American police forces and forever changed the face of daytime television. The facts about the 1997 North Hollywood shootout are all nearly unbelievable, from the number of rounds fired during the siege to the kind of weapons the assailants used. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu didn’t know it, but they would change the face of America forever with the final 44 minutes of their lives.

You may have read about bank robberies in the past, but few crimes compare to this one. Rather than asking a bank teller to put the money in a bag, the two men who destroyed a quiet town went on an all-out assault of the LAPD and did an untold amount of property damage before ending their lives in one of the most violent police altercations to ever occur on US soil. If you’ve heard about this insane moment in crime history but don’t know all the information, keep reading to get all of the armored North Hollywood shootout facts. 

  • The Suspects And Police Fired Nearly 2,000 Rounds

    It's already staggering that nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition were fired in just 44 minutes, but what takes this over the top is that 1,100 of those rounds were fired by just two people: the perpetrators, Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu.

    That means, from the beginning of the siege, no one stopped firing their weapons until Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were dead. With such an overwhelming number of shots fired, it's amazing to think that there were only two fatalities. 

  • The Robbery Went Wrong Immediately

    The High Incident Bandits' plan went belly-up the moment it began, thanks to the fact that they were spotted by two officers who were on a morning patrol and thought there was something fishy about two grown men wearing body armor, ski masks, and the arsenal of a small army while entering a bank.

    To make matters worse, there had been a change in the bank's delivery system and the vault contained significantly less money than the two believed there would be. Instead of the $750,000 Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu had expected, the men were only able to make off with $303,305 and three dye packs which later went off, ruining the money they stole. According to a National Geographic docuseries, Situation Critical, Mătăsăreanu was so upset about this development that he fired nearly 100 rounds into the vault, destroying whatever money remained. 

  • Each Robber Took At Least 10 Body Shots

    Remember, both of the robbers were wearing an extensive amount of body armor, so these 10 body shots that actually penetrated the men are in addition to the shots that were absorbed by their homemade vests and trauma plates.

    According to Situation Critical, Mătăsăreanu, who was wearing the trauma plate, successfully survived a double-tap from a SWAT officer's AR-15. The blow that made Phillips turn his weapon on himself was when he was struck in the hand, rendering him unable to continue firing with any of his automatic weapons. 

  • The Firefight Lasted For Nearly An Hour

    When you think of armed assaults that last for more than a few minutes, you likely think of disasters like the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, TX, or a military firefight that occurred overseas.

    The North Hollywood shootout lasted for 44 terror-filled minutes on a regular morning in 1997, and there were only two guys behind the entire thing. In that time, the two men managed to destroy a bank, injure police and civilians, commit property damage to businesses they weren't even near, and hold off a hefty portion of the Los Angeles police force.