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  "HEROES AMONG US - APRIL 11, 1986"

by:     Ellen Glasser (Retired, 1982 - 2006)
          President, Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
with:  Paul L. Miller (Retired, 1967 - 1997)
          Florida Representative, Society Information Committee

 
As FBIAA partners, the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI dedicates this column to FBI service martyrs and heroes who remind us that FBI service also means great sacrifice.  Information about benefits available to active-duty Agents as Associate members, and to former Agents as Regular members, is available at socxfbi.org.

On the job, we wake up every day, knowing we may be tested. It is part of the job and who we are. We prepare and do our best to be ready -- for ourselves, for our families, and for our buddies. The Society is proud that our membership includes many of the heroes involved in the 1986 Miami shootout that prompted the FBI and many police departments around the United States to transition from revolvers to more powerful, semi-automatic handguns and better protective vests. These changes have proven to be lifesavers for law enforcement.

April 11, 1986, was this day for the Agents on the FBI Miami Bank Robbery Squad. The squad was conducting surveillance to identify armed robbery subjects who had robbed armored cars and banks in southwest Miami. Through investigation, they had a description and license plate of the car used in the last robbery. That Friday morning, SAs Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove first spotted the car and followed it. As other units joined in, they attempted a felony car stop, when the cars crashed and the shootout ensued. Grogan and Dove were killed, five were injured, and only one escaped injury. Despite outnumbering the suspects 4 to 1, the agents were pinned down by rifle fire and were disadvantaged with their revolvers.

The subjects, William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt, were killed that day. Both had been hit multiple times during the firefight as they continued to wound and kill. The firefight came to an end only after the badly  wounded and barely conscious SA Edmundo Mireles Jr. was able to fire his pump shotgun five times using only one arm, at both subjects, wounding Platt. As the subjects attempted to flee, the injured Mireles was able to get up from the ground, walk over to their car, and fire the six rounds in his service revolver, killing Matix and Platt.

Agents wounded that day also include Supervisory Special Agent Gordon McNeill, SA John Hanlon, SA Gilbert Orrantia, and SA Richard Manauzzi. Only SA Ronald Risner was uninjured after the approximate five minute shoot-out.

In 2011, on the 25th anniversary of the shootout, Director Robert Mueller called April 11, 1986, "a day of unthinkable violence, darkness, and loss. Yet it was also a day of courage, selflessness, and sacrifice. [It was] a day that reflected the best of the bureau, even is it exemplified the worst of what we confront."


Miami Special Agents Benjamin
Grogan (left) and Jerry Dove


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