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Full Version: 1997 North Hollywood Bank Shootout - Was it a black op?
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20 years ago today

Officially speaking, on February 28, 1997 two and only two heavily-armed gunmen-Emil Matasareanu, 30, and Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr., 26-shot it out with LA police after being caught trying to escape from a bank robbery they had just committed. The episode was covered live by news cameras and became known as the North Hollywood Bank Shootout. In the wake of a civil lawsuit filed by Matasareanu's mother(she contended police allowed her son to bleed to death on the street) it appears there were indeed more than two shooters, as the police had initially reported. According to the LA Times "Lawyers on both sides acknowledged outside court that they believe there were five to six people involved..." A defense attorney in the case said the judge "...prevented him from showing jurors a bank surveillance photograph that shows three different gunmen inside the bank." Perhaps the authorities didn't want the truth to come out because the others were "linked to a Montana militia group."

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-- Here are some more quotes from the LA Times for the first couple of days after the shootout:

"At least two other suspects in the robbery were being sought."
--LAT 3-1-97

"The search for what police believed were two or three more robbers continued through the afternoon with no further success."
--LAT 3-1-97

--About 30 minutes after the last gunshots, police deployed around a house and a shed in the backyard a couple of blocks from the bank. The Times said that at 2:20pm local TV stations reported that a trail of blood had been found in that yard. And even though helicopters had been hovering over the site for hours, at this point the cops ordered the coverage curtailed:
"....several news crews pulled away from camera shots of police surrounding a shed because police voiced concern that the coverage might alert possible suspects in the area." The owner of the house was interviewed the next day's issue(3-2-97). He said he first noticed officers in his yard at 10:30am and was ordered out at 11:00am. When he returned he saw that a police 'battering ram' had flattened the back wall of the house and the shed. He also said their garage doors were peeled away, the roof of his wife's car was crushed, and tear gas canisters littered the floor.

--The LATimes of 5-3-96 had an article about the robbery of the Bank of America at 7255 Woodman Avenue in Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles County (now thought to be the work of Phillips and Matasareanu):
"...three(3) robbers toting semi-automatic weapons stormed a Bank of America Thursday(May 2) taking about 30 adults and young children hostage and firing a burst of shots before fleeing with a suitcase full of cash."

--"interesting note. last yr i met a woman named crystal ransom. she was in the bank of america parking lot with a ton of quarters she was going to take to the bank & have put into dollar bills. she was right THERE as the bandits exited from their car. crystal & me talked for quite a while. she explained to me that there WERE a total of 5 armed robbers."
(poster on another forum)
by RoshanLamyre
I remember watching that live. I also remember seeing four men in a shoot-out with the police. I also remember seeing follow-up news coverage about four armed bank robbers.

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Interestingly, mind control may have had a role. Check out these quotes from eyewitnesses on the scene:

--"Once again, everybody noticed how strange these guys were, how slowly they moved, almost like robots; even when they were cursing at them, the robbers' voices sounded dull, unexcited, lifeless, almost as if they weren't connected to what was going on."

--"...all of a sudden it was just me and her standing, facing these guys with guns, and I thought I was done for. There was a long moment where they were looking at us. And then the robbers looked at each other and said a profanity. Should I say the profanity? They said f***. Like, 'aw, f***!'. Like that, like they were disappointed." "He kept going in the trunk of the car and getting more ammo. He was like in a trance."

Besides the evidence of other shooters, we must ask ourselves:

--How did a guy with a record of small-time white-collar scams(Phillips) hook up with a friend who had even less experience in crimes(Matasareanu) and suddenly graduate to being violent takeover-style bank robbers?

--Why did the duo always commit their hold-ups when the maximum amount of money was onsite? (the average haul from bank robbery is less than $2000 but these guys got away with millions) Was there an inside man?

--What happened to the rest of the money? (police only recovered a couple of hundred thousand)

It should also be noted that this very publicized incident was used as an excuse for the LAPD and then law enforcement across the country to "armor up" with heavier weapons, armoured vehicles, body armor, etc.