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A shootout is a gun battle between armed groups. A shootout often, but not necessarily, pits law enforcement against criminal elements; it could also involve two groups outside of law enforcement, such as rival gangs. A shootout in a military context (i.e. regularly constituted armed forces or even guerrilla or insurgent forces) would usually be considered a battle or firefight (depending on size), rather than a shootout. Shootouts are often portrayed in action films and western films.
December 19, 1854. While trekking on a miner's trail in along the North Fork of the American River, Dr. Bolivar Sparks, James McDonald and Captain Jonathan Davis were bushwhacked by an international band of bandits. The bandits, a Frenchman, two Americans, two Brits, four Mexicans and four Australians, had recently robbed and killed four American miners on December 18, 1854, and six Chinese miners on December 17, 1854. McDonald was killed instantly, and Dr. Sparks was fatally wounded, however Captain Davis, an Army veteran, pulled out both of his pistols and killed seven of the bandits in quick order. Out of bullets, Captain Davis, an expert fencer, pulled out his Bowie knife and killed four more of his attackers. The surviving bandits fled for their lives. The shootout was witnessed by a group of miners, who buried the bodies of the dead.
April 15, 1872. Shooting breaks out during a highly charged trial in the Cherokee Nation.
Deaths: US Marshals: 8; Cherokee citizens: 3
September 7, 1876. Jesse James, Cole Younger, and their gang attempted to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. They exchanged fire with the townspeople. Two of the gang members were killed in the fire fight along with two innocent civilians.
Deaths: James-Younger gang: 2; Northfield town: 2
October 26, 1881. Deputy U.S. Marshal and Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp, Assistant Marshal Morgan Earp, and Special Police Officers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, faced off against outlaw Cowboys Ike Clanton, Billy Clanton, Billy Claiborne, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
Outcome: Clanton/McLaury: 3 killed; Earps/Holliday: 3 wounded
October 19, 1882. Mechanics' National Bank president Thomas O'Connor, businessman Joseph Mabry, Jr., and Mabry's son, Joseph Mabry, III, were killed in a shootout in Knoxville, Tennessee. The incident was documented in Chapter 40 of Mark Twain's 1883 book, Life on the Mississippi.
Deaths: O'Connor: 1; Mabry: 2
Deaths: Cowboys: 4; Baca: 0
October 5, 1892. The Dalton Gang attempted to rob two banks simultaneously in Coffeyville, Kansas, only to find themselves ambushed by lawmen and armed townspeople before they could make their escape. The gang was cornered in an alley and shot to pieces by the swarming townspeople; Emmett Dalton is the only outlaw to survive.
Deaths: Robbers: 4; Townspeople: 4
May 19, 1920. Private agents from the Baldwin–Felts Detective Agency battled with the local sheriff, the town's mayor, and a group of coal miners, over an attempt by Baldwin-Felts agents to evict coal miners from their homes during a strike.
Deaths: Townspeople: 3; Baldwin-Felts: 7
March 22, 1933. Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow and their friends entered a firefight with the local police who had been sent to investigate them in Joplin, Missouri.
Deaths: Lawmen: 2; Bonnie and Clyde: 0
June 17, 1933. Kansas City, Missouri. In an attempt to free their friend, a criminal gang ambushed seven FBI agents and Kansas City police at the train station as they were escorting captured fugitive Frank Nash back to prison. The FBI agents were unarmed, but the local police exchanged fire with the criminal gang. The gang unintentionally killed Nash along with the law officers.
The FBI claimed that the gang included Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, but the evidence is debatable and contradicts with Floyd's alleged presence.
Deaths: Kansas City Police: 2; Oklahoma police: 1, FBI: 1; Nash: 1; Gang: 0
April 22, 1934. Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. A team of FBI Agents led by Special Agent Melvin Purvis attempted to ambush bank robber John Dillinger and his gang at the Little Bohemia Lodge, a hotel and restaurant being used as a hideout. The ambush was botched when a truck full of Civilian Conservation Corps workers, who had been dining at the Lodge, was misidentified as Dillinger's men by the Agents, who opened fire, killing one of the civilians and wounding two more. Dillinger and his men briefly exchanged gunfire with Purvis's men before fleeing out the back of the lodge. FBI Agent W. Carter Baum was killed, and another agent wounded, by Baby Face Nelson during the gang's escape.
Deaths: FBI: 1; Civilians: 1; Dillinger's gang: 0
November 27, 1934. Barrington, Illinois. Notorious bank robber Lester Gillis/George "Baby Face" Nelson, his wife Helen, and gang member John Chase, encountered an FBI car driven by Agents Thomas Dade and William Ryan on a highway outside Barrington. Nelson pursued the FBI Agents, exchanging gunfire with them, until his car was disabled. Two more agents, Special Agent Herman "Ed" Hollis and Inspector Sam Cowley, arrived on the scene and engaged Nelson and Chase in a shootout. Though Nelson was wounded seventeen times by the Agents, he and Chase were able to fatally injure both Hollis and Cowley. Nelson escaped, only to die that evening from his injuries.
Deaths: FBI: 2; Nelson: 1
Deaths: Barkers: 2(?); Lawmen: 0(?)
Deaths: Schultz gang: 4; Murder, Inc.: 0
November 1, 1950. Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola got into a shootout with officers of the Capitol police and Secret Service while attempting to break into the Blair House and assassinate president Harry Truman. By the end of the gun battle, Torresola and officer Leslie Coffelt were killed in an event that firearms instructor Massad Ayoob called "the boldest attempt at home invasion in modern history".
Deaths: Police: 1; Assassins: 1
August 1, 1966. Charles Whitman barricaded himself at the top of the tower at the University of Texas at Austin and proceeded to fire randomly from the tower. He was killed in a final shootout when his perch was stormed by Austin police.
Deaths: 18 (including Whitman)
On April 6, 1970, California Highway Patrol officers engaged heavily armed criminals Bobby Davis and Jack Twining in a shootout in the parking lot of a restaurant near Newhall, California. In a span of five minutes, Davis and Twining killed four CHP officers, making it the deadliest day in the history of Californian law enforcement.
Davis was later arrested, while Twining killed himself following a long standoff with police.
Deaths: CHP officers: 4; Twining: 1
August 7, 1970. In an attempt to free his brother, imprisoned Black Panther leader George Jackson, 17-year-old Jonathan Jackson entered a courthouse in Marin County, California with an arsenal of weapons. After storming into a room where a trial was taking place, Jackson armed defendant James McClain, who was on trial for murdering a prison guard, and two fellow convicts who were participating in the trial as witnesses, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. The four armed men then took the judge, a district attorney and three jurors hostage, and marched them out of the courthouse into a waiting getaway van.
As they attempted to flee the scene, a shootout broke out between the hostage takers and Marin County Sheriffs deputies providing security at the courthouse. By the end of the gun battle, Jonathan Jackson, McClain, Christmas, and judge Harold Haley were killed. According to the other hostages, Haley was executed by the hostage takers with a shotgun that had been taped to his throat. Magee was severely injured, but survived the battle and was sentenced to life in prison. One juror and the D.A. were also wounded. One of the weapons used by Jackson was later traced to Black Panther icon Angela Davis, who was later tried (but acquitted) for participation in the crime. It was later alleged by a Marin General Hospital doctor that Judge Haley was being treated for a brain tumor and should have been recused from trying cases for health reasons.
Deaths: Suspects: 3; Hostages: 1
Deaths: FBI: 2; AIM: 1
September 4, 1977. The massacre took place at 2:30 a.m. at the Golden Dragon restaurant in San Francisco, California. A longstanding feud between two rival Chinatown gangs, the Joe Boys and Wah Ching, came to a head when a botched assassination attempt by the Joe Boys at the restaurant led to 5 people, including 2 tourists, being killed, and 11 people being injured. The assassination attempt came about after members of Wah Ching vandalized the graves of Joe Boys' members, breaking an unspoken taboo of respecting the dead.
Deaths: Bystanders: 5; Gang members: 0
August 8, 1978, Powelton Village. During an attempt to forcibly remove the group from the home in which they were living, a shootout took place between the police and the group; one police officer was killed. Nine of the group members were tried and sentenced for murder.
Deaths: Police: 1; MOVE: 0
May 13, 1985, Osage Avenue. In a failed attempt to serve arrest warrants on four members of the group, Philadelphia police became engaged in a gun battle at MOVE’s communal residence. About 10,000 rounds of ammunition were fired by the police. The police dropped a bomb on the house, starting a fire which burned down 62 houses and killed 11 people.
Deaths: MOVE: 11 (6 adults, 5 children); Police: 0
May 9, 1980. Prolonged shootout and chase between police in Norco, California, and five heavily armed bank robbers wearing military-style fatigues and armed with assault rifles, thousands of rounds of hollow-point bullets as well as various explosive and incendiary devices. Police responded to a bank robbery call in Norco. Upon arriving the police were ambushed and outgunned. After unloading over 300 rounds at police cruisers, the officers were forced to retreat behind their cruisers or nearby obstacles, all the while being fired upon. The suspects attempted to escape in their own vehicle. During this attempt, the driver of the suspects was killed by a stray police shot. The suspects then hijacked a nearby vehicle and became involved in a prolonged chase, in which the suspects shot at police and disabled and destroyed 33 police vehicles (as well as civilian cars) with explosives thrown from the back of a truck. The suspects also disabled a police helicopter by shooting at it. Later, the suspects lay in wait for police as they chased them, and ambushed them, resulting in the death of a police officer and wounding 2 others. Heavily outgunned, the police were pinned down until one officer arrived with an AR-15. After the police engaged the suspects with the AR-15, the suspects fled. One of the suspects was killed in the shootout, one during a later standoff with the police the next day, and three were later captured. 8 officers were also wounded during the events.
Deaths: Suspects: 2; Police: 1
October 20, 1981. An attempted armed robbery of a Brinks armored truck by members of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army resulted in a shootout and the deaths of two police officers and a Brinks security guard in Nyack, New York. The robbers, wearing body armor and equipped with assault rifles, initially ambushed the armored truck when it was parked at a shopping mall, killing Brinks guard Pete Paige and wounding his partner. After taking 1.6 million dollars in cash and attempting to flee in a U-Haul truck, they were stopped at a roadblock set up by police. In a second shootout, police officers Waverly Brown and Ed O'Grady were killed and the robbers fled the scene in several different directions. Four of the robbers were arrested during their escape attempt, and more than six other people involved were arrested in subsequent investigations over the next several years. The last arrest was made in 1986.
Deaths: Suspects: 0; Police: 2; Brinks Guards: 1
Deaths: U.S. Marshals: 2; Kahl: 0
June 3, 1983. Gordon Kahl was killed in a shootout with federal agents and the local sheriff in Smithville, Arkansas, in the house where he was hiding out.
Deaths: Kahl: 1; Sheriff: 1
April 11, 1986. Two FBI agents and two suspects were killed in a prolonged and intense firefight between the FBI and bank-robbery suspects William Matix and Michael Platt in Miami, Florida. The event became one of the most famous shootouts in American history, with 10 participants, roughly 145 rounds fired, and four deaths. It took a total of 18 hits (6 on Matix, 12 on Platt) to bring the gun battle to an end.
Deaths: FBI: 2; Suspects: 2
From 1989 to 1992, Los Angeles Watch merchant Lance Thomas was involved in four shootouts with armed robbers. In those four events, he killed a total of five and wounded another, while also being shot a total of five times. Thomas survived each shootout without permanent injuries, but eventually chose to close his store to avoid further bloodshed.
Deaths: Suspects: 5; Thomas: 0.
Deaths: Weavers: 2 (and 1 dog); Federal agents: 1
February 28–April 19, 1993. Members of the Branch Davidian sect engaged federal agents of the BATF in an intense firefight raiding their compound building, initiating a 51-day siege by the FBI near Waco, Texas.
Deaths: Branch Davidians: 6 (and 76 on April 19); BATF: 4
November 22, 1994. Ex-con Bennie Lee Lawson entered the Cold Case Squad room at the D.C. Metropolitan Police headquarters armed with a Cobray M-11 semi-automatic pistol and opened fire killing FBI Special Agents Martha Dixon Martinez and Michael Miller, and D.C. Metro Police Sergeant Henry Daly; and seriously wounding FBI Special Agent John Kuchta before killing himself.
Deaths: Police: 1; FBI: 2; Suspects: 1
February 28, 1997. Following a bank robbery in North Hollywood, California, two heavily armed and body armored bank robbers with numerous assault rifles ignited an intense firefight with about 375 officers of the Los Angeles Police Department for 44 minutes.
On August 19, 1997, Carl Drega, a New Hampshire resident who had long been in conflict with the government over alleged land code violations, opened fired on NH state trooper Scott Phillips after he was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Drega, armed with a scoped AR-15, killed Phillips and another Trooper, Les Lord, who arrived on the scene as backup. Then he stole Phillips' police cruiser and drove to the offices of the Colebrook News and Sentinel, where he killed judge Vickie Bunnell and newspaper editor Dennis Joos, who tackled him in an attempt to disarm him.
After this, Drega drove home to set his house on fire, then drove to Vermont where he opened fire and critically injured a Vermont trooper who had followed him after identifying the stolen NH police car. Eventually, Drega abandoned the vehicle at a Vermont farmhouse and ambushed a group of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies who had been sent to track him down. After a long shootout in which two more officers were injured, Drega was killed by Border Patrol agent Stephen Brooks and NH State Trooper Charles West, who were respectively armed with an M14 Rifle and Remington 870 shotgun.
Deaths: Police: 2; Civilians: 2; Carl Drega
Injuries: Police: 3
April 20, 1999. During the massacre, school shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold exchanged fire with Denver police three times. Although 12 students and one teacher died, 21 others were injured and both the shooters committed suicide that day, no officers were killed or injured.
February 24, 2005. David Hernandez Arroyo attacked his ex-wife, Maribel Estrada, and her son outside the courthouse in Tyler, Texas. Arroyo was armed with a semi-automatic MAK-90 (AK-47 clone with a semi-automatic receiver) rifle. Mrs. Estrada was shot in the head and died; her son was shot in the leg but recovered. The shots immediately brought a response from nearby sheriff’s deputies and Tyler Police. Arroyo began trading gunfire with the officers, who were armed only with pistols, and forced them to retreat, wounding several of them. A passing citizen, Mark Allen Wilson, drew his own pistol and attempted to aid the officers but Arroyo was wearing body armor and Wilson's pistol failed to stop him; Wilson was shot and killed by Arroyo. Afterward, Arroyo jumped in his pickup and led police on a high-speed chase, exchanging gunfire along the way. Arroyo was eventually shot and killed by a responding officer armed with a CAR-15 rifle.
Deaths: 3 (Arroyo, Estrada and Wilson)
July 10, 2005, Los Angeles, California. José Raul Peña, while high on cocaine, threatened his wife, took his 19-month-old daughter Suzie Marie Lopez (or Susie Marie Peña) hostage, then used the child as a human shield while he exchanged fire with the LAPD SWAT team. Peña (using a 9 mm handgun and a shotgun) fired more than 40 shots at the police, and the police fired more than 100 rounds at Peña.
Deaths: 2 (Peña and child)
On April 24, 2007, Scott Barnaby of South Bend, Indiana shot at officers outside his motel room. Barnaby and one of the officers were killed, and another officer was injured. Gun dealer Ronald Wedge was found guilty of selling a gun to Barnaby illegally, and was sentenced to ten months in prison.
Deaths: Barnaby: 1; Police: 1
On March 21, 2009, four Oakland police officers and the suspect were killed in a shootout.
Deaths: Suspect: 1; Police: 4
The 2009 Pittsburgh police shootings was a shootout that took place on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at 1016 Fairfield Street in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, stemming from an argument over a dog urinating in the house between a mother and her 22-year-old son. At approximately 7:11 a.m. EDT, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski opened fire on two Pittsburgh Police officers responding to a 911 call from Poplawski's mother, who was attempting to get the police officers to remove her son from the home. Three police officers were ultimately confirmed dead, and another two were seriously injured. Poplawski was armed with a semi-automatic AK-47-style rifle and two other guns, protected by a bulletproof vest, and had been lying in wait for the officers. According to police and witnesses, he held police at bay for four hours as the fallen officers were left bleeding nearby, their colleagues unable to reach them. More than 100 rounds were fired by the SWAT teams and Poplawski, who surrendered after suffering a gunshot wound to the leg.
Deaths: Pittsburgh Police: 3, Suspect: 0
On Sunday, November 29, 2009, four Lakewood, Washington police officers were shot and killed at a coffee shop in the Parkland unincorporated area of Pierce County, Washington, United States. One gunman entered the coffee shop, fired at the officers as they sat working on their laptop computers, and then fled the scene. After a 2-day manhunt that spanned several cities in the Puget Sound region, the alleged gunman was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Department officer in south Seattle.
Deaths: Suspect: 0 (killed two days later); Police: 4
From February 3–12, 2013, former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner killed three people (including an officer) and injured three other officers. On February 12, Dorner engaged in a shootout with police at Big Bear Lake, California, killing one and injuring another. The police then set Dorner's cabin on fire, whereupon Dorner committed suicide.
Deaths: Police: 2 (4 injured and 2 civilians killed) Dorner: 1
April 18, 2013. After killing 3 civilians and injuring hundreds at the Boston Marathon on April 15, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev shot and killed a police officer on the campus of MIT. Later in the night they engaged in a shootout with officers in Watertown, Massachusetts where they injured 16 officers and Tamerlan Tsarnev was killed while Dzhokhar Tsarnev was arrested the next day.
Deaths: Police: 1 (16 injured) Suspects: 1 (other injured)
July 7, 2006. Constables Robin Cameron and Marc Bourdages of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were both shot in the head through the windshield of their cruiser after a 27 km car chase and shootout with Curtis Dagenais in rural Saskatchewan.
Deaths: RCMP: 2; Dagenais: 0
On March 3, 2005 James Roszko ambushed and killed Royal Canadian Mounted Police constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Lionide Johnston and Brock Myrol with an prohibited HK-91 rifle during a stake-out, resulting in a shootout with other present RCMP officers in which Roszko committed suicide after being wounded.
Deaths: RCMP: 4; James Roszko: 1
November 16, 1991. Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Aftab Ahmed Khan, head of the ATS led a force of almost 100 policemen and ATS officers and attacked the Swati building at the Lokhandwala Complex in Bombay. In the ensuing shootout which lasted four hours, 450 rounds were fired and seven gangsters belonging to the D-Company were killed, including Maya Dolas, Dilip Buwa and Anil Pawar.
Deaths: Gangsters: 7; ATS and Mumbai police: 0
Injuries: Gangsters: 0; ATS and Mumbai police: 2
December 31, 1931. Fur trapper Albert Johnson opened fire on Constables Alfred King and Joe Bernard of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as another constable and a civilian volunteer, when the Mounties attempted to enforce a search warrant at Johnson's 8' x 10' log cabin in the Mackenzie River delta area of Canada's Northwest Territories. Const. King was wounded and the RCMP team retreated to Aklavik for medical attention following a brief shootout.
Outcome: RCMP: 1 wounded; Johnson: 0
January 5–6, 1932. Aklavik RCMP went on to form a posse consisting of 9 men with 42 sled dogs and 20 lbs of dynamite. After surrounding Johnson's cabin, the posse leveled the residence with a single charge of dynamite, but Johnson emerged from a 5' dugout and opened fire as the men rushed the ruins. Johnson was able to hold off the posse for a 15 hour standoff before the Mounties were forced to retreat to Aklavik for supplies and reinforcements.
Outcome: RCMP: 0; Johnson: 0
January 30, 1932. After being delayed by blizzard conditions, a reinforced posse of Mounties and mostly Inuit and Gwich'in volunteers returned to Johnson's ruined cabin on January 14 to find it abandoned. They were able to track Johnson and on January 30 surrounded him in a thicket, although they retreated after Constable E. "Newt" Millen was fatally shot in another shootout, allowing Johnson to escape.
Deaths: RCMP: 1; Johnson: 0
February 17, 1932. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police went on to recruit the assistance of World War I flying ace Wilfrid R. "Wop" May, who located Johnson's trail on the Eagle River tributary. Mounties went on to encounter Johnson in the middle of the frozen river, resulting in a fourth shootout in which Johnson was shot 9 times and killed.
Outcome: RCMP: 1 wounded; Johnson: KIA
April 24, 1912: When 3 police officers confronted anarchist Jules Bonnot in a fence's apartment, Bonnot opened fire on the officers, killing the vice-chief of the Surete Nationale before fleeing across adjacent rooftops.
Outcome: Surete: 1 killed; 1 wounded; Bonnot Gang: 0
April 28, 1912. 500 police officers, soldiers, firemen, and lynch mob participants exchanged fire with Bonnot in a Paris suburb. The conflict ended after police bombed the building in which Bonnot was taking cover.
Outcome: Police: 3 wounded; Bonnot: KIA
14 November 1990: After a shooting rampage which killed up to 13 people (including a police officer) in the small seaside township of Aramoana, New Zealand, members of the Special Tactics Group (STG) surrounded the house where shooter David Malcolm Gray was hiding and a gunbattle took place after failed attempts to lure him out. At the end, Gray ran out of the house, firing his rifle from the hip before being struck and knocked down by gunfire from STG officers. Gray subsequently died on the journey to hospital.
Outcome: STG: 1 wounded; Gray: killed
Rodney Ansell was an Australian bushman who served as the inspiration for the "Crocodile" Dundee films. On 3 August 1999, Ansell ambushed several police officers at a roadblocked intersection and fatally shot one of them. A gun-battle erupted as more officers arrived on scene, and Ansell was killed in the ensuing gunfight. The day before his attack on police, Ansell had been on a rampage, shooting at houses and wounding several civilians.
Date: 3 August 1999
Location: Acacia Hills, Northern Territory, Australia
Result: Two persons shot dead (Ansell and one officer); several civilians wounded
On November 26, 2008, 10 members of the Pakastani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out shooting sprees at several different locations throughout the Indian city of Mumbai. The terrorists, heavily armed with automatic weapons and explosives, overwhelmed the initial response from lightly armed and minimally trained police and held out for nearly three days, inflicting almost 500 casualties, with 157 deaths (including 17 police officers and soldiers). 9 of the 10 attackers were killed, while the 10th was arrested and later executed for the crime.
Date: 26–29 November 2008 Location: Mumbai, India Results 166 deaths (including 9 of 10 attackers), 293 injuries, 1 terrorist arrested.
Further information: 2008 Mumbai attacks
Former police officer Rolando Mendoza boarded a bus with Hong Kong tourists taking the occupants hostage. After freeing 4 children, senior citizens and a disabled woman, the shootout began after the on-board TV broadcast showing the arrest of his younger brother. Enraged, Mendoza took the tour guide and shot him in the head at the door. It took the SWAT team almost 2 hours to kill Mendoza with a sniper. The assault killed 8 hostages (the youngest being 14), and wounded 7 hostages, 1 journalist and 1 bystander.
Date: 23 August 2010 Location: Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines Result: Shooter: 1 dead, hostages: 8. 9 others wounded.