|Target FBI agents||Attack type Resisting arrest|
|Location Pinecrest, Florida, U.S.|
Date April 11, 198609:30 (UTC-5)
Weapons Ruger Mini-14, S&W M586 revolver, Dan Wesson .357 Magnum revolver
Deaths 4 (including the perpetrators)
Similar Norco shootout, Newhall incident, North Hollywood shootout
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 in 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 suppressive 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 wound and kill agents. This incident led to the introduction of more powerful handguns in the FBI and many police departments around the United States.
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 re-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. Matix's wife, retired U.S. Army Specialist 4 Patricia Buchanich, and a female co-worker, Joyce McFadden, 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. 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. Platt's first marriage ended in divorce. In December 1984, Platt's second wife, Regina E. Lylen-Platt (whom he married in 1975), was found shot dead with a shotgun from a single shot in the mouth. Her death was ruled a suicide. He married his third wife Brenda in January 1985.
Prior to embarking on their crime spree neither Platt nor Matix had a criminal record. At the time of Platt's killing, his wife had no idea that her husband and friend Matix were bank robbers. In the end, 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 in March 1986 but were not identified until May.
Eleven days after killing Briel, 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, but neither Platt nor Matix were injured. No money was taken in the botched robbery, and the one wounded guard would later die from his injury. One week later, the two robbed a teller station outside a branch of the Florida National Bank and a branch of the Professional Savings Bank. They resumed their robberies on January 10, 1986, by attacking a Brinks armored truck. After shooting the guard twice, they escaped in Briel's car, but a citizen followed them from the scene and witnessed them switch to a white Ford F-150 pickup truck.
On March 12, they robbed and shot Jose Collazo as he was was target shooting at a rock pit, leaving him for dead and stealing his black 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, but Collazo survived the shooting and walked three miles to get help. One week later, they used his car to rob a Barnett Bank branch.
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 traffic stop of the suspects, who were forced off the road following collisions with the cars of FBI agents Grogan/Dove, agents Hanlon/Mireles, and agent Manauzzi. These collisions 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 between a parked car (on its passenger side) and Manauzzi's car on the driver side.
Of the eight agents at the scene, two had Remington 870 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. 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, 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 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.
Manauzzi was wounded when Platt fired several rounds from his Ruger Mini-14 rifle, penetrating the door of Manauzzi's car. McNeill fired over the hood of Manauzzi's car but was wounded by return fire from Platt. 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. 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. McNeill returned fire with six shots from his revolver, hitting Matix with two rounds in the head and neck. Matix apparently was knocked unconscious by the hits and fired no more rounds. McNeill was then shot in the hand and, due to his wound and blood in his revolver's chambers, could not reload.
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. 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.
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 Orrantia's revolver, penetrated Platt's right forearm, fractured the radius bone and exited the forearm. This wound caused Platt to drop his revolver. 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.
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.
Dove's 9 mm semi auto 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. 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. 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.
Around this time, Metro-Dade police officers Rick Frye, Leonard Figueroa and Martin Heckman arrived. Heckman covered McNeill's paralyzed body with his own. Frye assisted Hanlon.
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. However, it is known for certain that Platt pulled Matix's Dan Wesson revolver at some point and fired three rounds.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In the aftermath, the FBI initially chose 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 & Wesson developed a shorter cased cartridge based on the 10mm, the .40 S&W. This became more popular than its parent due to the ability to chamber in standard frame semi-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 a rifle. 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 good 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.
After the shooting, the families of Jerry Dove and Benjamin Grogan sued the estates of Platt and Matix for damages. The lawsuit was dismissed.
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.