1986 FBI Miami shootout

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1986 FBI Miami shootout
Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan.jpg
Jerry Dove (left) and Ben Grogan, the FBI agents killed during the shootout
LocationPinecrest, Florida, U.S.
DateApril 11, 1986
09:30 (UTC-5)
TargetFBI agents
Attack type
Resisting arrest
WeaponsRuger Mini-14, S&W M586 revolver, Dan Wesson .357 Magnum revolver
Deaths4 (both perpetrators and two FBI agents)
Non-fatal injuries
5
PerpetratorsWilliam Russell Matix and
Michael Lee Platt
 
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1986 FBI Miami shootout
Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan.jpg
Jerry Dove (left) and Ben Grogan, the FBI agents killed during the shootout
LocationPinecrest, Florida, U.S.
DateApril 11, 1986
09:30 (UTC-5)
TargetFBI agents
Attack type
Resisting arrest
WeaponsRuger Mini-14, S&W M586 revolver, Dan Wesson .357 Magnum revolver
Deaths4 (both perpetrators and two FBI agents)
Non-fatal injuries
5
PerpetratorsWilliam Russell Matix and
Michael Lee Platt

The 1986 FBI Miami shootout was a gun battle that occurred on April 11, 1986 in an unincorporated region of Dade County in south Florida (renamed Miami-Dade on November 13, 1997) between eight FBI agents and two serial bank robbers. During the firefight, FBI Special Agents Jerry L. Dove and Benjamin P. Grogan were killed, while five other agents were wounded. The two robbery suspects, William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt, were also killed.

The incident is infamous in FBI history and is well-studied in law enforcement circles. Despite outnumbering the suspects 4 to 1, the agents found themselves pinned down by rifle fire and unable to respond effectively. Although both Matix and Platt were hit multiple times during the shootout, Platt fought on and continued to injure and kill agents. This incident led to the introduction of more powerful handguns in the FBI and many police departments around the United States.

Background[edit]

Michael Lee Platt (February 3, 1954 – April 11, 1986) and William Russell Matix (June 25, 1951 – April 11, 1986) met while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Matix first served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 1972 working as a cook in the officers' mess and was later honorably discharged after reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant. In 1973, Matix enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the military police. Matix was honorably discharged from the Army in 1976. Platt enlisted in 1972 as an infantryman and served with the U.S. Army Rangers during the Vietnam War, where he was noted for "High Combat Proficiency". Platt was honorably discharged in 1979.

Both of their spouses had died under mysterious circumstances.[1] Matix's wife, retired U.S. Army Specialist 4[citation needed] Patricia Buchanich, and a female co-worker were stabbed to death on December 30, 1983 at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where both women worked. Matix told investigators that he suspected Platt had carried on an affair with his wife. Matix was a suspect in the murders but was never charged.[2] After his wife's death Matix moved to Miami at the urging of Michael Platt, married a woman named Brenda Horne and had one daughter, Christy Lou. After relocating to Homestead, Florida, Matix began a landscaping and tree removal business called The Yankee Clipper with Platt.[3] Platt's first marriage ended in divorce. In December 1984, Platt's second wife Regina E. Lylen-Platt (who he married in 1975), was found shot dead with a shotgun from a single shot in the mouth. Her death was ruled a suicide.[4] He married his third wife Brenda in January 1985.

Prior to embarking on their crime spree neither Platt nor Matix had a criminal record.[5] At the time of Platt's killing, his wife had no idea that her husband and friend Matix were bank robbers, and he was a father to an infant son that he never met.

On October 5, 1985, Platt and Matix murdered 25-year-old Emelio Briel while he was target shooting at a rock pit. The pair stole Briel's car and used it to commit several robberies. Briel's remains were found on March 1, 1986 but were not positively identified until May 1986.

On October 16, 1985, Platt and Matix attempted to rob a Wells Fargo armored truck in front of a Winn-Dixie supermarket. One of the pair shot a guard in the leg with a shotgun. Two other guards returned fire. Neither Platt nor Matix was injured. No money was taken in the botched robbery.

On November 8, 1985, Platt and Matix robbed a teller station outside a branch of the Florida National Bank. Ninety minutes later, Platt and Matix robbed a branch of the Professional Savings Bank. The pair used Briel's car in the second robbery.

On January 10, 1986, Platt and Matix robbed a Brinks armored truck. One suspect shot the guard with a shotgun while the other shot him with a rifle. The guard survived. Platt and Matix used Briel's car in this incident. The pair were followed from the scene by a citizen who saw them switch to a white Ford F-150 pickup truck.

On March 12, 1986, Platt and Matix robbed and shot Jose Collazo while Collazo was target shooting at a rock pit. The pair left Collazo for dead and stole his car, a black 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Collazo survived the shooting and walked three miles to get help.[6]

On March 19, 1986, the pair used Collazo's car to rob the Barnett Bank at 13595 South Dixie Highway.

The shootout[edit]

Relative positions of FBI agents' and suspects' vehicles after felony car stop at 12201 Southwest 82nd Avenue, Pinecrest, Miami, Florida. Illustration is not to scale.

At 8:45 a.m on Friday April 11, 1986, a team of FBI agents led by Special Agent Gordon McNeill assembled at a Home Depot to initiate a rolling stakeout searching for the black Monte Carlo (Collazo's stolen car). The agents did not know the identity of the suspects at the time. They were acting on a hunch that the pair would attempt a robbery that morning.

A total of fourteen FBI agents in eleven cars participated in the search. Eight of these FBI agents took part in the actual shootout and were paired as follows;

Around 9:30 a.m., agents Grogan and Dove spotted the suspect vehicle, and began to follow. Two other stakeout team cars joined them, and eventually an attempt was made to conduct a felony traffic stop of the suspects, who were forced off the road following collisions with the FBI cars of agents Grogan/Dove, agents Hanlon/Mireles and agent Manauzzi. This sent the suspect car nose first into a tree in a small parking area in front of a house at 12201 Southwest 82nd Avenue, pinned against a parked car on its passenger side and Manauzzi's car on the driver side.

Of the eight agents at the scene, two had Ithaca Model 37 shotguns in their vehicles (McNeill and Mireles), three were armed with semi-automatic Smith & Wesson Model 459 9mm pistols (Dove, Grogan, and Risner), and the rest were armed with Smith & Wesson revolvers. Two of the agents had backup revolvers (Hanlon and Risner) and both would use them at some point during the fight.

The initial collision that forced the suspects off the road caused some unforeseen problems for the agents, as the FBI vehicles sustained damage from the heavier, older car driven by Matix.[7] Just prior to ramming the Monte Carlo, Manauzzi had pulled out his service revolver and placed it on the seat in anticipation of a shootout,[7] but the force of the collision flung open his door and sent his weapon flying. Hanlon lost his .357 Magnum service revolver during the initial collision, though he was still able to fight with his Smith & Wesson Model 36 backup gun. The collision knocked off Grogan's glasses, and there is speculation his vision was so bad that he was unable to see clearly enough to be effective. (A claim disputed by the FBI's Medical Director, who stated that Grogan's vision was "not that bad".) Grogan, however, is credited with landing the first hit of the gunfight, wounding Matix in the forearm as he leaned out of the Monte Carlo to fire the shotgun at Grogan and Dove.[8]

Manauzzi was wounded when Platt fired several rounds from his Ruger Mini-14 rifle that penetrated the door of Manauzzi's car. McNeill fired over the hood of Manauzzi's car but was wounded by return fire from Platt's Ruger Mini-14 rifle. Platt then fired his rifle at Mireles who was running across the street to join the fight. Mireles was hit in the left forearm, creating a severe wound.[7] Platt then pulled back from the window, giving Matix opportunity to fire. Due to collision damage, Matix could only open his door partially, and fired one shotgun round at Grogan and Dove, striking their vehicle. Matix was then shot in the right forearm, probably by Grogan.[9] McNeill returned fire with six shots from his revolver, hitting Matix with two rounds in the head and neck. Matix was apparently knocked unconscious by the hits and fired no more rounds.[10] McNeill was then shot in the hand and, due to his wound and blood in his revolver's chambers, could not reload.[7]

As Platt climbed out of the passenger side car window, one of Dove's 9 mm rounds hit his right upper arm and went on to penetrate his chest, stopping an inch away from his heart. The autopsy found Platt’s right lung had collapsed and his chest cavity contained 1.3 liters of blood, suggesting damage to the main blood vessels of the right lung. Of his many gunshot wounds, this first was the primary injury responsible for Platt’s eventual death.[11] The car had come to a stop against a parked vehicle, and Platt had to climb across the hood of this vehicle, an Oldsmobile Cutlass. As he did so, he was shot a second and third time, in the right thigh and left foot. The shots were believed to have been fired by Dove.[12]

Platt took up position by the passenger side front fender of the Cutlass. He fired a .357 Magnum revolver at agents Ronald Risner and Gilbert Orrantia, and was shot a fourth time when turning to fire at Hanlon, Dove and Grogan. The bullet, fired by Risner or Orrantia, penetrated Platt's right forearm, fractured the radius bone and exited the forearm. This wound caused Platt to drop his revolver.[13] It is estimated that Platt was shot a fifth time shortly afterwards, this time by Risner. The bullet penetrated Platt's right upper arm, exited below the armpit and entered his torso, stopping below his shoulder blade. The wound was not serious.[14]

Platt fired one round from his Mini-14 at Risner and Orrantia's position, wounding Orrantia with shrapnel created by the bullet's passage, and two rounds at McNeill. One round hit McNeill in the neck, causing him to collapse and leaving him paralyzed for several hours. Platt then apparently positioned the Mini-14 against his shoulder using his uninjured left hand.[15]

Dove's 9 mm pistol was rendered inoperative after being hit by one of Platt's bullets. Hanlon fired at Platt and was shot in the hand while reloading. Grogan and Dove were kneeling alongside the driver’s side of their car. Both were preoccupied with getting Dove's gun working and did not detect that Platt was aggressively advancing upon them. Platt rounded the rear of their car and killed Grogan with a shot to the chest, shot Hanlon in the groin area, and then killed Dove with two shots to the head. Platt then entered the Grogan/Dove car in an apparent attempt to flee the scene.[16] As Platt entered Grogan and Dove's car, Mireles, able to use only one arm, fired the first of five rounds from his pump-action shotgun, wounding Platt in both feet.[7] At an unknown time, Matix had regained consciousness and he joined Platt in the car, entering via the passenger door. Mireles fired four more rounds at Platt and Matix, but hit neither.[17]

Around this time, Metro-Dade police officers Rick Frye, Leonard Figueroa and Martin Heckman arrived. Heckman covered McNeill's paralyzed body with his own.[18] Frye assisted Hanlon.[19]

Platt's actions at this moment in the fight have been debated. A civilian witness described Platt leaving the car, walking almost 20 feet and firing at Mireles three times at close range. Mireles does not remember this happening. Officer Heckman does not remember Platt leaving the Grogan/Dove car. Risner and Orrantia, observing from the other side of the street, stated that they did not see Platt leave the car and fire at Mireles.[20] However, it is known for certain that Platt pulled Matix's Dan Wesson revolver at some point and fired three rounds.[15][21]

Platt attempted to start the Grogan/Dove car. Mireles drew his .357 Magnum revolver, moved parallel to the street and then directly toward Platt and Matix. Mireles fired six rounds at the suspects. The first round missed, hitting the back of the front seat. The second hit the driver's side window post and fragmented, with one small piece hitting Platt in the scalp. The third hit Matix in the face, and fragmented in two, with neither piece causing a serious wound. The fourth hit Matix in the face next to his right eye socket, travelled downward through the facial bones, into the neck, where it entered the spinal column and severed the spinal cord. The fifth hit Matix in the face, penetrated the jaw bone and neck and came to rest by the spinal column.[22] Mireles reached the driver's side door, extended his revolver through the window, and fired his sixth shot at Platt. The bullet penetrated Platt's chest and bruised the spinal cord, ending the gunfight.[23]

The shootout involved ten people: two suspects and eight FBI agents. Of the ten, only one, Special Agent Manauzzi, did not fire any shots (his firearm was thrown from car in the initial collision), while only one, Special Agent Risner, was able to emerge from the battle without a wound. The incident lasted under five minutes yet approximately 145 shots were exchanged.[7][24]

Toxicology tests showed that the abilities of Platt and Matix to fight through multiple traumatic gunshot wounds and continue to battle and attempt to escape were not achieved through any chemical means. Both of their bodies were drug-free at the time of their deaths.[25]

Aftermath[edit]

The subsequent FBI investigation placed partial blame for the agents' deaths on the lack of stopping power exhibited by their service handguns. The FBI soon began the search for a more powerful caliber and cartridge. Noting the difficulties of reloading a revolver while under fire, the FBI specified that agents should be armed with semiautomatic handguns, and this incident contributed to the increasing trend of law enforcement agencies switching from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols across the nation.[19]

In the aftermath, the FBI initially choose the Smith & Wesson 1076 chambered for the 10mm Auto round, but its sharp recoil proved too much for most agents to control effectively, and a special reduced velocity loading was developed - commonly referred to as the "10mm Lite" or "10mm FBI". Soon afterwards Smith and Wesson developed a shorter cased cartridge based on the 10mm, the .40 S&W.[26] This became more popular than its parent due to the ability to chamber in standard frame automatic pistols initially designed for the 9 mm Parabellum.

Other issues were brought up in the aftermath of the shooting. Despite being on the lookout for two violent felons who were known to use firearms during their crimes, only two of the FBI vehicles contained shotguns (in addition to Mireles, McNeill had a shotgun in his car, but was unable to reach it before or during the shootout), and none of the agents were armed with rifles. Only two of the agents were wearing ballistic vests, and the armor they were wearing was standard light body armor, which is designed to protect against handgun rounds, not the .223 Remington rounds fired by Platt's Mini-14 rifle. While heavier armor providing protection against rifle rounds would normally have been hot and uncomfortable to wear on patrol in Miami's April climate, the agents, spending the day sitting in air conditioned vehicles on the lookout for a single target, were facing more ideal conditions for its use.

The other six agents involved in the stakeout in five vehicles, who did not reach the shootout in time to participate, did have additional weaponry including Remington shotguns, Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, and M16 rifles.[7]

Weaponry and injuries[edit]

Agents[edit]

Suspects[edit]

Lawsuit[edit]

After the shooting, the families of Jerry Dove and Benjamin Grogan sued the estates of Platt and Matix for damages. The lawsuit was dismissed.[27]

Memorial[edit]

In 2001, the Village of Pinecrest, Florida, which incorporated in 1996, honored the two agents by co-designating a portion of Southwest 82nd Avenue as Agent Benjamin Grogan Avenue and Agent Jerry Dove Avenue. Street signs and a historical marker commemorate the naming of the roadway in honor of the two agents.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meltzer, Matt (23 June 2007). "True Crime: The FBI Miami Shootout". Miami Beach 411. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  2. ^ "Mother Surprised to Discover Slain Man's Criminal Past". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. 19 April 1986. p. 9B. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Lamar, Jacob V., Jr.; Gauge, Marcia (Miami) (28 April 1986). "A Twisted Trail of Blood". Time. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "AROUND THE NATION; Wives of 2 Slain Gunmen Both Met Violent Deaths". The New York Times. Associated Press. 14 April 1986. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Links to other shootings probed". The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon). Associated Press. 13 April 1986. p. 6A. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  6. ^ O'Neil, Jon (14 April 1986). "Cops see 8 cases tied to men in FBI shootout". The Miami News. pp. 1A, 4A. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h EFOIA. "nws2074.tmp". Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  8. ^ Wilbanks, William (1 January 1997). "10". Forgotten Heroes: Police Officers Killed in Dade County 1895–1995. New York: Turner Publishing Company. pp. 186–. ISBN 978-1-56311-287-4. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Because the driver’s side door had been damaged during the collision – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  10. ^ However, for the next minute, it is believed that Matix slumped over onto his back and lay unconscious on the front seat of the Monte Carlo. – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  11. ^ As Platt crawled through the passenger side window, one of Dove’s 9mm bullets hit his right upper arm – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  12. ^ After Platt crawled out the window and was rolling off the front hood of the Cutlass, Dr. Anderson believes he was hit twice more – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  13. ^ Dr. Anderson feels Platt received his fifth wound – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  14. ^ The bullet entered the back of Platt’s right upper arm – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  15. ^ a b http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  16. ^ At this point in the gunfight, Dove had relocated from behind the passenger side door of his car – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  17. ^ Mireles fired a total of five rounds from his Remington 870 shotgun from a range of about 25 feet. – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  18. ^ At about this moment in the gunfight, Metro-Dade police patrol officers – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  19. ^ a b 25 Years After The FBI Firefight: The Late-Emerging
  20. ^ Platt’s specific actions at this stage of the gunfight have been subject to controversy. – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  21. ^ http://www.thegunzone.com/11april86.html, The Ultimate After Action Report, An unvarnished and illustrated forensic examination of the FBI's devastating firefight in South Florida, The Gun Zone. Accessed 2009-12-31.
  22. ^ Mireles first shot at Platt hit the back of the front seat behind Platt’s left shoulder. – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  23. ^ By this time Mireles had reached the driver’s side door – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm, Anderson, W. French, M.D.: Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986, FBI Firefight. W. French Anderson, M.D., 1996 (127 pages, paperback). Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  24. ^ "FBI-Miami Shootout". Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  25. ^ toxicology tests conducted on the body fluids of Matix and Platt revealed neither was under the influence of chemical intoxicants. – http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm. Accessed 2009-03-11. Archived 2009-05-08.
  26. ^ The 10mm and .40 S&W are identical in projectile diameter, both using a 0.400" caliber bullet
  27. ^ 835 F. 2d 844 – Grogan v. F Platt "OpenJurist", January 15, 1988, accessed August 7, 2011

Coordinates: 25°39′24.55″N 80°19′34.75″W / 25.6568194°N 80.3263194°W / 25.6568194; -80.3263194

External links[edit]