No event in recent history has been a starker lesson in the importance of the patrol rifle in law enforcement than the North Hollywood shootout of February 28, 1997. Two armed robbers, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, each wearing body armor and carrying an AK-47 rifle, fired 100 rounds of ammunition before even leaving the door of the San Fernando Valley branch of the Bank of America. Their weapons were easily capable of defeating officers’ body armor at long ranges. The unprecedented conflict lasted more than 44 minutes, during which the suspects fired over 1,100 rounds at officers. The aftermath left both suspects dead and 15 people injured, including 11 police officers.
The LAPD patrol officers were badly outgunned and ill prepared for the fight. This is not to impugn the valor and relentlessness with which these officers pursued those dangerous men. The LAPD police were forced to resort to commandeering two AR-15s, a shotgun and rifles with telescopic sights from B&B Sales, a local gun shop.