LOS ANGELES—Dozens of law enforcement gathered on Tuesday, February 28 at a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic North Hollywood shootout between police and two armed robbers.
The ceremony began at 9:17 a.m. at the LAPD North Hollywood Police Station, which is the exact time when two armed robbers walked into The Bank of America at 6600 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood on February 28, 1997.
The robbers Larry Eugene Phillips Jr., 26, and Emil Decebal Matasareanu, 30, planned the armed robbery for months and calculated the expected LAPD response time by listening to police scanners, according to reports.
Two officers spotted the suspects enter the bank as they drove by, which gave them time to surround the bank. When the robbers exited the establishment eight minutes later, they immediately opened fire at police and civilians. The suspects fired about 1200 rounds at officers, civilians, a dog, and a police helicopter. It became the longest gun battle in police history lasting 44 minutes and ending at 10:01 a.m.
“The officers on scene were outgunned but they stepped up. They never retreated. They never backed off. They kept the people of North Hollywood and this city safe,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti at the ceremony.
Both suspects were killed in the shootout. Phillips Jr., took his own life with a single gunshot wound to the head and Matasareanu bled to death from multiple gunshot wounds. Eleven officers and six civilians were wounded during the incident, but all survived.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you for what you did,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “You made the difference. You were the difference. You defined this organization at a time when it desperately needed it.”
The ceremony lasted an hour commemorating the officers that took action and fought back during the shootout. Eighteen officers received the Medal of Valor which was presented to them by President Bill Clinton in 1998, while several residents received courageous citizen awards.