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January 30, 2024 51 mins

Tune in today to listen to the story of when North Hollywood became a war zone after a brazen bank robbery. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to stuff you should know, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh, and there's Chuck,
and there's Jerry, and we're just well, Jerry's not here. Actually,
now I mentioned it. That was just fsoph habit, wasn't it?

Speaker 1 (00:21):
The ghost of Jerry. She's not she's still with us.

Speaker 2 (00:25):
She's driving the getaway car.

Speaker 1 (00:27):
Yeah, she's not that kind of ghost.

Speaker 2 (00:29):
No no, no, no, no no, she's the kind of
ghost that drives a getaway car.

Speaker 1 (00:33):
Right.

Speaker 2 (00:34):
So I mentioned that though, Chuck, because it's apropos of
the heist episode we're about to talk about, which I
guess this would qualify as a heist.

Speaker 1 (00:43):
Right, Oh, I mean heck yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:47):
Well usually to me, heists are a little more intricate
most of the time successful. This was a little more
brute firepower than any other heist or most other heists,
So that's why it kind of disqualifies it in my opinion.
Oh okay, that's my essay on heists.

Speaker 1 (01:08):
I don't even know what the definition of heist is.

Speaker 2 (01:10):
I just gave it to you.

Speaker 1 (01:12):
Apparently a robbery, so yeah, sure.

Speaker 2 (01:14):
I mean, of course it's a robbery. But and this
qualifies as a robbery. It's just it's its own unique thing,
for sure, big time. And you know, as you're reading this,
it's so theatrical, it's so just totally off the chain
nuts that this actually happened in real life. It's you
have to remind yourself from time to time like these
are like really really bad guys and what they were

(01:36):
doing was beyond reprehensible. It's just we're so trained to
get sucked into that kind of like action in the
movies that when it happens in real life you have
to like kind of turn off that entertainment part of
it and bring yourself back to reality. Sometimes, at least
I did. I had trouble doing it during research a
few times, No.

Speaker 1 (01:56):
For sure.

Speaker 3 (01:57):
And we're talking about the North Hollywood shootout is what
it's known a lot as the Battle of North Hollywood sometimes.
And this is on February twenty eighth and nineteen ninety seven,
when two dudes armed to the hilt with assault rifles
like anything you can think of. And this is, as

(02:18):
we'll see a time when and this is kind of
one of the big sort of I guess, interesting and
scary parts about this. This is when cops like people
could be more out armed than the police that are
trying to stop them, right, And that's what happened the
day that they engaged, when North Hollywood became a war

(02:40):
zoned for a little while.

Speaker 2 (02:41):
Yeah, and as a matter of fact, this episode, this
event led directly to the militarization of police forces, as
we see, these two guys basically pressed that issue because, yeah,
the Los Angeles Police Department was outgunned, out armed, and
but definitely not outnumbered. They outnumbered the robbers, but they

(03:04):
were still getting pinned down and they were having no
luck with anything. Well, I don't want to give too
much away. Let's just start at the beginning, because we're
talking about two dudes. A twenty six year old this
is back in ninety seven, named Larry Eugene Phillips Junior,
and there was a thirty year old who he was
friends with named Emil Mattiseranu. And even though Emil was older,

(03:26):
Larry was the one who called the shots. He was
roundly described by family members as manipulative, controlling, and he
had Emil under his thumb. A meal was described by
his family members later as a follower. So even though
he was a little older. He listened to what Emil
told him to do, not just in their partnership as

(03:47):
like criminals, but in life too. I read somewhere that
Emil got married because Larry told him he should and
that he shouldn't marry an American girl. So Emil went
to Romania and got himself a Romanian bribe because he
was a remain immigrant. That level of control is apparently
what they were engaged in.

Speaker 3 (04:05):
Yeah, totally previous to their meeting they met each other,
they were bodybuilders, not professionally but just bodybuilding guys at
Gold's Gym and Venice Beach in nineteen eighty nine. And
just prior to this is when Phillips started. His life
of crime. Started kind of small, I guess, like most criminals,

(04:26):
just a heist of four hundred dollars from a seers
in southern California, and then graduated to burglary, real estate
fraud stuff like that. Apparently was sort of enamored of
Scarface and ultimately the movie Heat. So if this shootout

(04:46):
sounds familiar, it sounds a lot like the one from Heat,
it's because they seem to have been inspired by that
movie for sure.

Speaker 1 (04:53):
But love not only just the.

Speaker 3 (04:55):
Gangsters and movies, but also the white collar criminals. He
would apparently like park in front of rich people's houses
and just sort of fantasize about that life and wanted
money like he you know, in the end, this whole
thing was about money and like the thrill of it
all largely because of Phillips.

Speaker 2 (05:15):
Right for sure, and Phillips was he kind of had
the odds stacked against him in succeeding in a normal
nine to five life because of the family he was
born into. His father, Larry Ejeen Phillips Senior, who would
later speak about his son in glowing terms after this.
He was actually an escape beef from a prison in

(05:38):
Colorado when Larry Junior was born, so Larry Junior was
born into an alias. His last name was False Orful.
That's how he was born, and on his sixth birthday,
apparently the FBI came in with guns drawn to capture
his dad, and that helped set up what was referred
to as basically a lifelong hatred of the police and

(06:01):
by extension, the kind of normal society the police were
charged with defending.

Speaker 1 (06:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (06:09):
As Par Mattisrano, he was a Romanian immigrant came into
the country when he was about eleven in nineteen seventy seven,
was naturalized in eighty eight. And his mom, we'll talk
about her a little bit. Her name was Valerie Nicolescue.

Speaker 2 (06:25):
I think that definitely gets it across sure Nicolescue.

Speaker 3 (06:29):
She says that he was bullied when he was a kid.
He became a computer and video game nerd. He ended
up going to Devrye Institute of Technology when he was
nineteen and I'm sorry he got his degree when he
was nineteen. But his neighbors also said things like this
guy was bad news. He threatened one of the neighbors
with a chainsaw because their dog came on his property.

(06:53):
And their family also had another sort of disturbing secret, right.

Speaker 2 (06:58):
Yeah, they had a family business, a Meal and his mom, Valerie,
had like basically a residential care center out of their
home for people with disabilities, usually cognitive disabilities or mental
health issues. And they were set up as a legitimate

(07:19):
care institute. No, that's not the word, I guess a
care home. Yeah. The problem is is they were not
a good care home by pretty much any standard. They
were caught multiple times doing or they were accused multiple
times of mistreating the people. One of their residents was

(07:39):
left in the hospital just kind of abandoned, ditched there.
There was supposedly some allegations that a Meal had been
abusive toward at least one of the patients there, and
he was not allowed to come back into the house anymore,
which is a problem because this is the family house.
And eventually they got shut down for fire codes, and

(08:00):
later on we'll see it even got worse after the
heist happened and all the news came out and the
police and the press started looking into that family and
their family business. Just suffice to say, like, his mom
doesn't appear to have been a very good person herself,
just based on the allegations of how she treated the

(08:20):
people who were under her care.

Speaker 1 (08:23):
Yeah, it was pretty just.

Speaker 3 (08:24):
I mean, this is one of the more disturbing parts
of this whole story actually, and it's kind of a sidebar,
which is after the shootout, they searched her like a
commercial building that she owned in Pasadena and found a
forty four year old mentally disabled woman locked in a
room with no windows, with no food or water. And
then later it turns out that she was charged for

(08:48):
that initially.

Speaker 1 (08:49):
Which was.

Speaker 3 (08:50):
I mean, I guess just sort of like a neglect charge.
She was sentenced to ten months. But then later in
two thousand and two, I found an article in the
La Times where because I was like, why would she
do this? It was a social security fraud. She was
collecting checks in her name and her and this other woman.
Later on she you know, it was basically welfare and

(09:13):
social security fraud. So she got pinched for that in
two thousand and two.

Speaker 2 (09:17):
And if you read kind of some of the contemporary
articles from nineteen ninety seven right after the heist, she's
kind of portrayed by the press as like the thing
she says about herself or her background, the press don't
really take on face value. Yeah, Like she's she said
that she was an opera singer from the state opera

(09:38):
in Romania who defected in nineteen seventy seven, And they
use the words like claim And when somebody's described as
claiming something about their own personal history, that's a signal
from the press that this is probably not a trustworthy person.

Speaker 1 (09:54):
Yeah. Absolutely.

Speaker 3 (09:56):
She would also say after this whole shootout went down
with her son that she was like he was depressed,
his wife had left him, and taken his kid, and
I basically think this was a suicide mission for him.
So whether or not that was true, who knows. That's
what she claimed, right.

Speaker 2 (10:13):
So these are the guys who found each other in
nineteen eighty nine at Gold's gym and became really good friends.
And one of the things, in addition to bodybuilding that
they had in common was a real pronounced love of guns,
and not just any guns, high power to assault rifles
in particular. And apparently Larry Phillips had a line somewhere

(10:40):
on steel cased ammunition. He could get it from Russia,
highly illegal, but apparently people weren't paying attention, and I
saw there was this British National Geographic little hour long
documentary on this called Situation Critical, which reminded me of
that Seinfeld movie Prognosis Negative totally. But they said that

(11:03):
he managed to import rounds of this really illegal, like
incredibly powerful steel lined ammunition by the thousands of rounds.
So not only did they have really high powered assault rifles,
they had immeasurably higher powered shells to put in those

(11:23):
assault rifles, which made them extremely dangerous people.

Speaker 1 (11:28):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (11:28):
Absolutely, And as we'll see, and maybe we should take
a break here. These two guys were doing a lot
of really dangerous criming before that ninety seven shootout.

Speaker 4 (11:39):
Let's take that break, all right.

Speaker 3 (12:11):
All right, so before we broke, I hinted around that
these guys were criming around previous to the nineteen ninety
seven shootout where everything ended, and that is very much true.

Speaker 1 (12:23):
In nineteen ninety three, they.

Speaker 3 (12:25):
Were pulled over in a rental car in Glendale and
cop said, all right, well, let me take a look
in the trunk, and they went, oh, you've got two
nine millimeter handguns, two forty five hand guns, two coalition acoffs,
six smoke grenades, two homemade bombs, three machine guns, two
bulletproof vests, one gas mask, six holsters, wigs, ski masks,

(12:47):
two police radio scanners, a stopwatch, and close to three
thousand rounds of AMMO. And they said, we're just going
to the shooting range, man. And you know, sometimes we
like to wear wigs or ski masks, or listen to
what the cops are doing, or time each other.

Speaker 2 (13:05):
Right, we're big fans of the police.

Speaker 3 (13:08):
Obviously that all is, you know, to an outsider obvious bs.
But shockingly, the DA said, you know, we don't have
enough evidence to convict them of conspiracy to commit robbery,
and they pled down to a misdemeanor weapons charge in
about four months in county jail.

Speaker 2 (13:29):
Each It gets even worse than that. That was nineteen ninety.

Speaker 1 (13:33):
Three, Okay.

Speaker 2 (13:35):
They were not only led off with basically a slap
on the wrist. What they had in their trunk was
described by other people later on as a bank robbery kit.
That's everything you needed to rob a bank right there,
and it was so painfully obvious that's what that was.
That but they still was a stick up note right, No,
there wasn't anything like that. They hadn't gotten to that point.

(13:57):
But the craziest part of this whole thing crazier that
they only got four months for these weapons. The DA
and the judge agreed to give them their weapons back
after they got out of jail, so they were re armed,
ostensibly so that they could sell the weapons to pay
for their legal costs, but no one followed up to

(14:18):
make sure they did sell the weapons. They just gave
them back their assault rifles and their handguns and probably
their ski masks, everything they needed to go rob banks.
And that's exactly what they did with that stuff, and.

Speaker 1 (14:30):
This was Los Angeles. Yeah, for goodness sakes, I know,
it's crazy.

Speaker 3 (14:35):
So later on, this was after the you know, the
final shootout that we're leading up to, But later on
there was obviously all kinds of investigations and stuff, and
they learned that these two guys were, in fact what
were known as the High Incident bandits, these two dudes
that robbed well, it was technically it was two incidences,

(14:59):
but banks, because they hit two banks at once. In
ninety five, they robbed a well, not a bank, but
they robbed a Brinks truck in front of a Bank
of America in the valley and they killed a guy.

Speaker 1 (15:11):
They killed the driver. They opened up fire on these dudes.

Speaker 2 (15:14):
Without warning, without it put your hands that they just
came out of nowhere and just started firing on them.

Speaker 3 (15:19):
Oh yeah, which will you know, we'll see as an
obvious precedent. And then in nineteen ninety six, they robbed
two Bank of Americas, one of which was the one
that they had previously robbed the armored car in front
of and killed that guy. And you know, it was
the same type of deal. They had these automatic rifles.
They were, you know, screaming that they're going to kill you.
They had body armor, ski masks, sunglasses. They took their

(15:42):
time as far as bank robberies go, by being in
these banks for six minutes and eight minutes very long,
which is that's a long time for a bank robbery.

Speaker 1 (15:51):
I tried to get out of there in less than three.

Speaker 2 (15:53):
Well, yeah, that's you know, that's what everybody does, that's
our goal.

Speaker 3 (15:56):
But they made off. I mean, these guys had a
lot of money. They made off with between one point
three and one point seven million bucks combined from this
these two heists.

Speaker 2 (16:07):
Let alone whatever they got from the Brinks robbery.

Speaker 3 (16:10):
Oh yeah, absolutely. And they were you know, they were
well known. They were the high incidence bandits. The FBI
was you know, actively tracking them and also had a
theory that they're not alone. They're part of like a
larger crime ring or terror string that's funding them.

Speaker 2 (16:24):
Yeah, and like that's not only funding them with arms,
but the bank robberies are meant to fund some sort
of like right wing paramilitary group or terrorist organization or something.
That was the point. That was the premise they were
going on because these guys were so incredibly well armed
and just for context too, one point seven million dollars

(16:46):
for two bank robberies is a eye popping amount of money.

Speaker 1 (16:50):
Yeah, it's up.

Speaker 2 (16:51):
There in like the top probably fifty bank robberies in
United States history. Like, those are really big hauls. I
saw at the time in nineteen ninety one, the average
bank robbery in the United States yielded the robbers about
three thousand dollars robbing a bank. The takes were usually
so paltry that it wasn't worth the bank's money to

(17:15):
invest in other protections like screens that go up really
quick between the tellers and the bank robbers. It wasn't
worth them installing those in banks because the robbers rarely
got away with more than a few thousand dollars. So
that was a huge, huge score for almost two million
dollars between just two bank robberies for these guys.

Speaker 3 (17:34):
Yeah, and I don't think murder usually occurs at those
bank robberies too, Supposedly.

Speaker 2 (17:40):
I can't remember the number. I think it was like
sixteen people died in bank robberies over like I think
eighty five to ninety five or something like that, and
twelve of them were the bank robber. It was a
statistic somewhat like that. So yeah, yeah, and I think
eighty five percent of bank robberies get caught. It's a
really high risk, usually low reward, yeah crime, but if

(18:03):
you do it like these guys did, armed to the teeth.
And the other reason that their yields were so big,
they scouted out the banks and they knew when the
bank was going to get some big delivery of cash.
Usually it was a payday or something like that. That's
why their robberies paid off so well. They had done
their homework ahead of time.

Speaker 3 (18:23):
Yeah, and that's how they do it in the movies.
And apparently these guys were inspired by movies.

Speaker 2 (18:27):
Yeah. I guess everybody else in real life doesn't do
it like the movies.

Speaker 3 (18:31):
Yeah, so they were, you know, they were living kind
of high on the hog for a little while. They
had a lot of money. Phillips himself, he was the
one that really sort of idolized, you know, being wealthy
and all that stuff. He like bought fancy cars, he
bought rolexes. I think mattisonana rented a big house for
his family. So, you know, I think looking at the timeline,

(18:53):
one was in June of ninety five, one was almost
a year later in ninety six, so, and then this
final one was in February ninety seven. They weren't, you know,
they weren't doing this. It's hard to say they were
being smart about it because they were so brazen. But
it seems like they were doing this as like, all right, well,
here's our annual salary and then we'll go out and

(19:13):
do it again in about a year.

Speaker 2 (19:15):
Right, Yeah, no, they were. It was like their new
job and their new hobby and their new life, I
guess from what I understand. Right. So, on the day
of the robbery, their third heist, February twenty, nineteen ninety seven,
a Friday, and since it's the end of the month,
a payday, they had targeted a Bank of America. It
wasn't one they had hit before, but for some.

Speaker 1 (19:36):
Reason they did Bank of America.

Speaker 2 (19:38):
They really and I kind of get why, but a
being a former Bank of America account holder myself, But
they they hit one in North Hollywood. It was on
Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Are you familiar with this area? Oh
of course, Okay, so you knew were you in la
at the time? No?

Speaker 1 (19:58):
I didn't.

Speaker 3 (19:58):
Oh wow, this is kind of right before that though
I didn't move to LA until two thousand, okay, yeah,
and North Hollywood just for references, you know, Hollywood, Central Hollywood,
kind of right in the middle of sort of central LA.
And then just over the mountains as you go into
the valley, that's where North Hollywood is.

Speaker 2 (20:17):
Right And that's where Hank, the Cheshneian gangster in the
HBO show Berry is from. That's why they call him
NoHo Hank.

Speaker 1 (20:26):
I need to do, Barry you do.

Speaker 2 (20:29):
It's one of those shows that gets insanely off the
rails and yet they still manage to make it work.
It's really good.

Speaker 1 (20:38):
You know.

Speaker 3 (20:38):
I watched a little bit of it years ago when
it first started and just got distracted and never got
back around to it. But I'd love everyone in that show.

Speaker 2 (20:48):
Yeah, I think you should. You should give you another shot, all.

Speaker 1 (20:51):
Right, I'll bury up soon.

Speaker 2 (20:52):
It's weird though, it's it's deceptively gritty. It's a comedy
through it, and it's just bizarre and all that. But
there's if you really kind of get into the violence,
the meat of it, it's it's pretty hardcore. It's a
crazy show. It's hard to pin down, but it's worth
the seeing.

Speaker 1 (21:12):
All right, I'll follow up.

Speaker 2 (21:13):
So Friday, February twenty eighth, nineteen ninety seven, Larry Phillips
and a Meal MADISERANU walk into a bank of America
and they are covered head to toe and tactical gear
ski masks. It turns out Larry Phillips is covered from
neck to ankle in body armor. Yeah, that he helped.

(21:37):
He apparently so did it himself and it was really effective.
A Meal MATASERANUH has a trauma plate basically a like
a bulletproof plate covering his chest and his vital organs.
And they walk in and apparently the first thing they
did was started firing into the air from their AK
forty sevens. And you would think that that would capture

(22:00):
the attention of the police, but that's a moot point
because the police watched them walk into the bank from
the first moment this started.

Speaker 3 (22:08):
Boy, I mean, you can do all the planning in
the world as a bank robber, but you can never
count or discount bad luck for them good luck for
everyone else. Sure, but literally there was a police cruiser
that were like sitting there and watched two guys walk
into this bank armed like this, And I'm sure they

(22:30):
were like what the boo and immediately called this is
at nine seventeen, and they immediately called for backup obviously,
and I think once they saw and heard the shots
and everything, they all immediately knew that these were the
high incident bandits.

Speaker 2 (22:46):
Yes, and for those fans of Snoop Dogg and Doctor
Dre and Ice Cube and NWA, you're well aware that
what the police called in was a two to eleven
an armed robbery in progress.

Speaker 1 (22:59):
That's good.

Speaker 2 (23:00):
So one of the things, a little detail that kind
of emerged later on, apparently Larry Phillips and Emal were
not drug users whatsoever in any way, shape or form,
but apparently they had taken phena barbital just before the
bank robbery to basically calm their nerves. They were the
kind of bank robbers that you see in the movies,

(23:20):
but they don't actually exist in real life. These guys
existed in real life. They would knock down old ladies
and put guns in their faces. They would tell moms
that if they didn't shut their kids up, they were
going to kill their kids. They fired wildly into the air,
they fired wildly into the bank. They just shot everything
up everywhere they were really abusive. They were really tough,

(23:41):
they were really scary, and they were also really on
point as far as knowing where the money is, knowing
who would have access to the money, and just making
this whole thing work. They had also figured out that
they had about eight minutes before the average response time.
They hadn't noticed the cops watching them walk in, and
so they had timer stopwatches on during this whole eight

(24:04):
minute robbery.

Speaker 3 (24:06):
Yeah, which is what they had in the trunk when
the cops pulled them over four years earlier.

Speaker 1 (24:09):
Yeah, the stop watch.

Speaker 3 (24:11):
Yeah, so yeah, I mean they had this thing planned out,
but they also didn't know certain things, like they asked
the bank manager to open up the ATMs, and he's like,
I can't open the ATMs, Like I literally can't do that.
So he tried to shoot them open, which did nothing
to get into the atm, but of course it you know,
bullets Rickachet everywhere and injured the bank manager. They also,

(24:36):
you know, would shoot I think one of them, Phillips,
wasn't it, who literally shot into a safe and like
shot up a lot of the money that they could
have gotten, Yeah, ruining that.

Speaker 2 (24:47):
Out of anger. They learned that the Prinks truck that
was supposed to be delivering hundreds and hundreds about three
quarters of a million dollars by their estimate, was running
late or had been rescheduled to throw off bank robberies,
and out of anger, Emil just shot into a safe
and and basically just ruined a bunch of cash that
they could have taken.

Speaker 3 (25:07):
Yeah, there was also a cell phone on the scene,
which is not the most common thing in nineteen ninety seven,
for sure, but it was la and they locked a
bunch of the they were about, you know, thirty bystanders
or you know, just people doing bank business. They separated
them out from the tellers and put them in a

(25:28):
vault and shut the door, and one of the I
believe one of the women inside had a cell phone,
and I'm not sure how much it help, but she
was at least able to be in touch with the cops,
sort of describing what she was hearing while all this
is going on.

Speaker 2 (25:42):
Right, this is at a time before people knew what
lol meant, and run of the cops she was texting
with was like, LOL meaning lots of love, but she
didn't take it that way.

Speaker 1 (25:54):
Lots of love. I thought it was laugh out loud.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
Right, that's what it means. The didn't know that. He
thought he was saying, like, hang in there, l O, I.

Speaker 1 (26:02):
Gotcha, got cha? Okay, I missed. I'm a little less
sick today.

Speaker 2 (26:06):
That's all right. I stole that joke from family guy.

Speaker 3 (26:08):
Anyway, In the end, though, they did get, you know,
a pretty good take. They got about three hundred thousand
dollars worth of cash, and then I guess we should
probably take a break here. But then they exited the
bank and all h e double hockey sticks broke loose.

Speaker 2 (26:56):
Okay, chuck, it's about nine five, believe eight minutes has passed,
the timers going off on their stopwatches, and Amal Mataseranu
and Larry Phillips are now planning on leaving the bank.
They have a duffel bag with about three hundred grand
in cash, and supposedly right when they walk out the door,
the die packs in the bag go off and completely

(27:19):
ruin the cash. So the cash that they thought was
going to be there wasn't there. The cash that they
did get was now completely ruined forever because the die packs.
And they come out and realize that the cops have
them surrounded that this eight minute response time thing doesn't
count when the cops watch you walk into the bank
with ski masks in AK forty sevens.

Speaker 1 (27:41):
Yeah, Like, what kind of surrounded are we talking about here?

Speaker 2 (27:44):
We're talking about surrounded on every side with police helicopters
hovering overhead. That's what they walked out of the bank into.

Speaker 3 (27:52):
Yeah, in the end, there would be more than three
hundred cops from five different agencies that were engaged in
the shootout, three hundred against two. That gives you a
little insight into just how much more heavily armed these
guys were. That it lasted this long, but they walked
out to that scene and immediately turned North Hollywood into

(28:15):
a war zone. I've watched a lot of video this stuff,
and this is one of the remarkable things is a
lot of this stuff is on video. You know, LA
is notorious for you know, anytime something like this is happening,
there's six helicopters, news helicopters overhead, like within minutes, just
kind of live streaming, or I guess you wouldn't.

Speaker 1 (28:36):
Call it live streaming then what.

Speaker 2 (28:37):
Would you just say broadcasting?

Speaker 1 (28:39):
Live broadcasting? There you go, Oh man, it's been so long.

Speaker 2 (28:42):
You're so twenty twenties.

Speaker 3 (28:43):
I am so yeah, live broadcasting this thing from above,
so you can watch a lot of this take place,
which is horrifying. But again, if you've seen enough movies,
you're like, yeah, it looks like a lot of movies
I've seen. But a lot of the interviews that you
know since then that have happened with cops that were
there and take place basically said like, these guys just
came out and started shooting at everything that moved, citizens, cars, buildings,

(29:10):
police cars at the times at the time didn't have
kevlar siding and their doors and stuff. So like, hiding
inside a police car was no good. Hiding behind a
police car was better because the bullet going all the
way through it at least is going to you know,
ricochet around and probably not go like straight into you.
But you know, they were it was all of a sudden,

(29:30):
it was like Vietnam out there in North Hollywood.

Speaker 2 (29:33):
So here's the thing. When the cops had them surrounded
and were waiting for them to come out, Number one
in the cops mind, they had no idea if the
whole place inside had just been massacred. Because most robbers
don't walk in and start shooting into the air. Again,
that's movie stuff that these guys were influenced by. So
they heard like, like I think, fifty rounds of automatic

(29:53):
rifle fire in the bank while they were waiting for
these guys to come out, and they didn't know if
everyone inside was just completely killed. That was number one,
But number two the cops also presume, based on experience
and history, that when these guys came out and saw
they were surrounded not just by cops and cop cars
but also helicopters, that they would just you know, put

(30:14):
their guns down, put their hands up. So they were
surprised at the response that these two guys took on
just even just this first initial wave of dozens of cops.
And then they were further surprised when the guy's bullets
started going right through any kevlar vests, started going right
through the police cars, started going through buildings, through concrete buildings.

(30:36):
There was a concrete locksmith like kind of like a
photo mat in the parking lot that they were taking
shelter behind. The bullets were going through them. This was
it just suddenly turned completely one hundred and eighty degrees
from their expectations. And then even worse than that, they
were finding their own guns were having basically just pinging.
The bullets were pinging off of these guys because they

(30:58):
were wearing so much body the armor. So this is
about the moment almost immediately out of the gate when
the cops were like, this is nothing like anything we've
ever experienced before, and we are out gunned right now.

Speaker 1 (31:11):
Yeah, and this sounds unbelievable, but it's true.

Speaker 3 (31:14):
It was so bad right away that the cops realized
that and said, if there's any available units, go to
the gun store down the street and get everything you can.
Like they literally went to a gun store to re
arm or you know, I guess what would you call
it when your armament, Yeah, I guess. So they leveled

(31:37):
up on their guns and they did get guns. Apparently
according to like recovered ammunition stuff, they didn't actually end
up using those in the firefight because I guess, you know,
the whole thing didn't last that long, and I'm sure
it took a while to you know, talk the store
owner and giving up these guns and getting the matching
ammunition and all that. But they sent for backup for

(31:59):
them by going to a gun store, which is just
crazy to think about. And they were like, we need
the SWAT team. This is we're police cruiser guys, and
that we have revolvers or nine millimeters and this ain't happening.
Swat team is downtown. Took him about eighteen minutes to
get there, and they got there though. They finally showed up,

(32:19):
and apparently it was such a quick sort of let's
get their quick thing that one of the SWAT officers
was about to go on a jog and he shows
up in like jogging shorts.

Speaker 2 (32:29):
Yeah, if you watched like the footage of the of
them taking mitos Urano, he's the first one to them
and it's kind of silly looking to be honest.

Speaker 1 (32:38):
Yeah, but so.

Speaker 2 (32:40):
Yeah, this first wave of cops that they encountered, I
don't know how many cruisers there were, but let's say
there's probably six and maybe a dozen or so cops.
There were also two bystanders who got caught in the crossfire,
both of whom ended up getting shot by those ricochet
bullets going through cop cars that they were hiding behind.

(33:01):
Cops were getting shot like through their kevlar vests. I
think a number of cops were injured and even worse,
they were pinned down. They were in what's called the
kill zone. Like these guys were very easily able to
shoot any of these people who were fairly close to them,
and so these cops had to basically retreat or be
pinned down. And some of them were pinned down because

(33:22):
they were shot. So if you kind of watch some
of the footage or you you know, read about it,
that kind of gets left out. And that was something
I thought that the Situation Critical documentary really kind of
drove home, Like there were some people who were in grave,
grave danger in the first like ten to fifteen minutes

(33:43):
of this firefight before backup arrived. And I also saw
it described that the Phillips in Mattisaranu at one point,
especially when they were engaged with that first wave of
cops who were totally unprepared and une to deal with them,
that they could have made a getaway, and they seem

(34:04):
to have decided that they were wanted to stay and
fight instead. Yeah, that's unusual.

Speaker 3 (34:11):
And I'm curious about the wisdom of that, Like if
they had left, if these guys just would have went
and got in their car and tried to get out
of there, I don't know.

Speaker 2 (34:20):
Who knows. I mean, I don't know, the fact that
they had a helicopter on them would have made it
pretty difficult, but who knows. Could have been way worse.
It could have been shorter. Who knows what could have happened.
But yeah, I think the point was that they, like
bank robbers, don't try to stick around when they're given
the option to try to make a run for it,
and these guys.

Speaker 3 (34:38):
Yeah, I'm not gonna Monday Morning quarterback this thing years
later in my podcast Booth because I wasn't the one,
you know, getting shot at on the street. So there
was one citizen hero among this crowd, which was a dentist,
doctor Jorge Montes, had an office across the street, and
two cops that were injured like crawled up the stairs

(35:01):
to his office and he it sounds like he had
saved at least one of their lives. He treated them immediately,
and one of the cops had a shrapnel in his ankle,
and Montes was smart enough to be like, we should
leave that in there, Like, I'll treat you, but I'm
not taking that out because it could get worse. And
that officer later said that he probably saved my life

(35:22):
because I probably would have led out.

Speaker 2 (35:23):
Yeah, that's pretty great. So a few minutes before ten,
this firefight has been going on for thirty plus minutes. Now, okay,
Phillips and Mantaseranu decide that this is a really fateful
decision and no one has any idea why, probably will
never know why. But mataseranuh gets in their white Chevy Celebrity,

(35:47):
the ugliest getaway car ever. Oh there's one other thing
about that white Chevy Celebrity. They had it backed up
to the bank in a parking space, and so when
they came out and they were shooting at the cops
and everybody that moved for thirty minutes with their assault weapons.
Whenever their assault rifle would like run out of ammo

(36:07):
or jam or something, they just throw it down, go
to the trunk of the car and come back with
a brand new assault rifle. And they had like drums,
like one hundred round drums as clips. So they were
really doing a lot of damage. And at some point
they decided let's head out. Matisanu gets in the Chevy
Celebrity and rather than get in with him, Larry Phillips

(36:30):
decides to walk alongside just firing at everybody while Madisranu
slowly drives with him. And then the really faithful decision
is made where they decide to split up and Larry
Phillips peels off for Matiseranu and starts walking down the
sidewalk of a street, a side street that a residential
street to a residential area.

Speaker 3 (36:52):
Yeah, yeah, it's you know, I think I read a
lot about this too. I think he might have thought
he was providing some initial cover and the whole split
up thing is just, you know, judging from the movies,
I think sometimes that's just what they decide to do, like,
you know, instead of concentrating everything on us, if we
split up, that'll that'll split the you know, the burden

(37:14):
or whatever.

Speaker 2 (37:15):
Yeah, I mean I get that. I also, based on
how quickly things happened after that, it also makes me
wonder if he was like, I'm just gonna go take
my last stand.

Speaker 3 (37:24):
Well maybe, I mean, who knows. We're never gonna know, basically,
and you'll soon find out why. So in the end
of Phillips was shot eleven times. He's walking down this
side street.

Speaker 2 (37:35):
He's still walking after he's some of these most of
these shots.

Speaker 3 (37:39):
Yeah, he's walking down the side street. He's firing at
everything he can, and he gets just like in the movies,
like an old Western or something, a cop shoots his hand,
like shoots the gun out of his hand by shooting
his hand, he reaches down, picks it up, puts it
under his chin, and in an attempt to kill himself
and a trigger and you know, it was sort of

(38:02):
a bang bang thing. No one sure which was the
kill shot, but sort of right along that time at
either right when it happened or right after he fell,
a cop had shot him true romance style, through the
side of his body where there was no protection, no
protective vest because that stuff is usually like it's on

(38:23):
your back, it's on your chest, but kind of not
through the side, and he severed his spine and he
was dead immediately from one of the two wounds.

Speaker 2 (38:31):
So Larry Phillips is now dead one way or another,
either by his own hand or by the cops shot.
And that is not the end of things, because mattis
Ranu is still on the move. He's in his white
celebrity moving down the street past where Phillips has just died.

(38:51):
And here's just crazy because as we'll see the LAPD
is very much fetted after this for having saved nor
Hollywood taken on these guys who outgunned them. But there's
a really critical point that I think people just moved
right past. When they were moving up Archwood, this residential street,
it was not closed off, So people were driving past

(39:16):
Emil Mattiseranu within feet, like a handful of feet of
this guy, and they were confused, they didn't know what
was going on. And he's strapped with like this ak
driving the white celebrity which now has this tire shot
out looking for another car, and at least three or
four pass him before he finally stops and picks one
and start shooting at the car. And that was a huge,

(39:38):
huge failure on the LAPD's part because those guys could
have gone anywhere on Archwood Street and started taking hostages easily.
What was the failure that they didn't close the street off, Like,
I don't understand how you can do about they had
time bank robbery, you could close it off somewhere back
there there was through traffic still coming down Archwood, like
right by the bank. If you watch it, it's crazy

(40:01):
that that's no.

Speaker 3 (40:01):
I no, I just don't. I don't know, man, I
think that's also Monday morning quarterbacking. I don't know if
they could have they were in the middle of a shootout.
I just I don't know.

Speaker 2 (40:09):
I mean, the whole LAPD was focused on this shootout.
I feel like they could have shut the street down.

Speaker 3 (40:15):
It's just crazy to me. All right, agree to disagree, Okay?
At any rate, he's firing at cars. He gets in
this guy's jeep pickup truck, and the guy got injured.
He was fine. He ran out of there and you know,
got away at least, and he starts, you know, he
still thinks he can get out of there. I guess
he's transferring weapons from that Chevy to the truck, and

(40:37):
three swat guys drive over there. He comes out again,
and all of a sudden, there's another shootout on the
street movie style, with both of them kind of crouched
behind these cars, and the cops do a very smart thing,
which is shoot underneath the car, at his feet, at
his legs, whatever they can hit, and they end up

(40:57):
hitting him twenty eight times and dropped him.

Speaker 2 (41:00):
Yeah, man, can you imagine taking twenty eight shots in
your legs and feet?

Speaker 1 (41:05):
I can imagine one.

Speaker 2 (41:06):
He put his hands up, he gave up, he surrendered
and was laying behind the celebrity. I think in the
end when they captured him, twelve officers had been injured,
had been shot somewhere in pretty bad shape. Miraculously all survived.
Eight bystanders had been injured. All of them survived. Everyone

(41:27):
in the bank survived, and it turned out that the
only two people who didn't survive were Larry Phillips and
Emil Mattiseranu, who ended up bleeding to death from his
injuries lying behind that chevy celebrity. Isn't that nuts yet, Chuck?
I think seventeen or eighteen hundred rounds were fired in
this forty four minute firefight, and only two people died,

(41:51):
the bank robbers.

Speaker 3 (41:53):
Yeah, And that became a matter of just sort of
further scrutiny because Mattiserano, you know, he's there, he's bleeding,
and he says, you know, why don't you put a
bullet through my head? And when the EMTs show up,
the cops keep them away, They said, don't come over here.
EMT has never examined him, and he slowly bled out

(42:14):
basically over the next hour and died. They were you know,
heavily scrutinized. I think there was an attorney that ended
up filing a suit on behalf of the kids that said, hey,
you know, regardless of whether this guy was a bank robber,
you can't you know, you still have an obligation to
treat an injured human on the ground as a cop.

(42:36):
The cops response was like, we didn't know if there
were other people involved, if they were around, if they
had a sniper, if they had explosives on their body.
We didn't want to put those EMTs in danger. And
in the end they dropped. I'm sorry, it was a
deadlock jury at first, so it was a mistrial, and
then they decided not to go further with another case

(42:57):
because they might be countersued for malicious prosecution.

Speaker 2 (43:01):
Well put, did you read the La Times article on that.
Oh yeah, they really went to town putting this thing together,
and no one came out looking okay, you.

Speaker 3 (43:11):
Know no, And it was you know, the LA PD
has always had a checkered reputation, so like at first
they were heroes because this was all over the news,
and this was you know a handful of years after
Rodney King, when they had probably an all time low
opinion rating, so they were like, look, look at the
cops like protecting you and putting their lives at risk.

(43:32):
So it was good for pr at first, but then
this they let them bleed out in the street for
an hour. I'm sure a lot of people were like
good and a lot of people are like, yeah, you
still can't do that.

Speaker 2 (43:41):
Sure. So one of the other outcomes of this was
that it changed police forces across the United States forever.
Like the police realized that they were not equipped for
something like this to happen in not only Los Angeles
but every other town in the United States. And in

(44:03):
the Defense Spending Act, I think of nineteen ninety seven,
they passed a section called ten thirty three that said
that the Department of Defense can sell any access armory,
weapons materiel to local police departments. Now that's a new thing,
and it turned into what's been roundly considered the militarization

(44:26):
of the police. That's had all sorts of knock on effects, including,
according to multiple studies, an increase in death during police shootings.
And that's a big criticism of this that rather than
people saying let's reduce the public's access to things like
assault rifles that can kill tons of people and have

(44:47):
firefights like this. Instead, the push has been to let's
arm the cops equally to these criminals that can be
armed to the teeth as well, to make it even,
which there's a logic to it, sure, but you could
also reduce the public's access to those kinds of things
as well, and that didn't really happen.

Speaker 1 (45:09):
Well.

Speaker 3 (45:09):
One of the good things that came out of it
was PTSD counseling for police officers was not such a
big thing at the time, and after this it became
much more just sort of implemented across the country.

Speaker 2 (45:22):
Yeah, that is a good thing, for sure. Anything else,
I got nothing else. I think there's in Grand Theft
Auto five, one of the heists, the Palletto score is
based on this too. And there's a movie called forty
four Minutes that was made for TV on FX and
it's terrible. I bet if you want to know anything

(45:42):
else about the North Hollywood shootout, there's plenty to see
and read about that. And while you're reading and seeing
about the North Hollywood shootout, I think it's time for
listener man.

Speaker 3 (45:56):
I'm going to call this follow up that I feel
pretty bad about. We did our podcast episode on Kenton
Greua Grand Canyon River Adventure not too long ago, and
we actually heard from his wife, Michelle Grua, who was
not a stuff you should know listener, but someone told
her about it. She listened, and she wanted to clear

(46:18):
up some things and some I'm going to read it.
It's a little lenkedy, but I feel like we owe
it to her. Hey, guys, I was surprised to be
informed by a friend of your podcast about my late
husband Factor. Yes, our children and I all called him Factor.
That was his preferred name. I appreciate that you obtained
most of your information from Kevin's book The Emerald Mile,
which is for the most part accurate. There are some

(46:40):
things that you said that are not accurate, and depictions
of Factor that I'd like to set straight. These things
are likely only important to me our children into his
two brothers if they were to ever hear your podcast.
I can tell that you appreciated his adventurous spirit and
the grandiosity of the things he did, but I would
gently suggest that you might consider the feelings of those
left behind with regard to the way you depict someone.

(47:02):
He's not just some character and a really cool story.
He's someone's husband, father, and brother who has sorely missed.
I do not expect any kind of retraction public retraction.
I just wanted to let you know about the inaccuracy
so you could have a more clear picture of him.
He was the most humble, gracious, generous, respectful, considerate, fear
soul I've ever met, truly one of a kind and

(47:24):
the greatest factor in my life. Regarding the description of
him really liking booze and hiking out to obtain extra liquor,
the passengers on that particular commercial trip are the ones
who requested extra booze, and given that there's no delivery
into the canyon, he offered to hike out and procure
a resupply for them. Regarding the moccasins, he was a purist,

(47:46):
and his reasoning was that the ancient Queblins who'd lived
in the canyon had likely worn moccasins, and he wanted
to pay homage to them and not have any unfair
modern advantage like hiking boots. He had scouted the route before,
and the first through hike attempt he had placed food caches, cases, cases,
cases for that hike, as well as doing so the

(48:08):
second time as an insight into his character. He hiked
back in to remove all of them after the hike,
leaving no trace.

Speaker 1 (48:14):
You said that he was obsessed.

Speaker 3 (48:16):
If you can say that about someone who smokes that
much pot, I feel like you may have missed a
key element of Kenton's character and you're reading about him
that he had a fierce intellect, an intense focus, and
once he got ahold of an idea, he ruminated on it,
turned it over and over in his mind until he
worked out all the details. Not consistent with the sleepy
image you conjure up when thinking about a typical Stoner.

(48:38):
It also bears mentioning that the original idea was Wally Wrists. Wally,
Rudy and Kenton did the original Speed one, but Wally
was no longer working on the river in eighty three
and thus not able to partake this time around.

Speaker 1 (48:51):
Kenton came up with the idea to put.

Speaker 3 (48:53):
A second set of oar locks on the boat so
you could have two rowing stations to tackle the flat
water at the far west of the canyon. As far
as the fine, the fine that was imposed as reportedly
five hundred dollars. But I have the cancel check to
the Cocochino County Magistrate in the amount of two hundred
and fifty dollars paid by Kenton, so your assertion that

(49:14):
he couldn't afford.

Speaker 1 (49:15):
It is not accurate.

Speaker 3 (49:17):
He never mentioned any imposition of community service to me
as well, and we are also quite sure of how
he died. He died not due collision or impact, but
from the spontaneous a ordit dissection, not an aneurysm. He
was found unresponsive on the trail by a hiker while
the kids and I were home awaiting his return. He

(49:38):
was not dead when the hiker found him. He was
taken to the local hospital, where resuscitation efforts failed. He
wasn't laying in a peaceful position. The hiker said he
was still astride as bike, and it appeared that he
had just tipped over. Indeed, he had a little cut
over his ear where his sunglasses dug into the side
of his head when he landed. As a physician myself,
I can tell you he was probably in significant chest

(50:01):
pain and he died about two hundred yards after passing
through what would have been a busy trailhead parking area.
So he was probably peddling like hell to get home
just a couple of miles away, but dissected and lost
consciousness less than a minute after passing through the lot.
I only discovered it when he was two hours late
getting home from the ride and called the hospital where

(50:22):
I worked to see if they had any Mountain bikers
that had come in. They said yes, but they weren't
able to identify him, and that was the last moment
of true peace that I had. I am glad you
found a story so compelling. I'm sure he's glad people
are hearing of it and he doesn't have to do
the telling himself. But accuracy is important. Please don't paint
him as a caricature. Best Michelle Grua and I emailed

(50:46):
her a very long email back, and I felt terrible
about all this, and she was very sweet and much
more graceful than I would have been in her position.

Speaker 2 (50:54):
So yeah, I was going to say, I mean, if
you're going to get taken to task by a living
relative of someone we profile, all it's about is as
nice as it can get, for sure.

Speaker 3 (51:03):
Yeah, So thank you Michelle for that, and just publicly,
I'm sorry for anything we did that costs you any upset.

Speaker 2 (51:09):
Yeah, agreed. It was definitely not our intent to create
a caricature out of him. That's never our intent. So
sorry that that happened inadvertently, and thank you for taking
the time to write all that, and thank you Chuck
for reading all of it. Certainly, if you want to
get in touch with us, like Michelle Grua did, you
can use email as she did, as well send it

(51:29):
off to stuff Podcasts at iHeartRadio dot com.

Speaker 1 (51:36):
Stuff you Should Know is a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (51:38):
For more podcasts my heart Radio, visit

Speaker 1 (51:40):
The iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to
your favorite shows.

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