Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Revisiting Miami, 1986.

In my reading today, I had occasion to look again at the Miami shootout of such notoriety. And I came to a couple of conclusions:

After the famous 1986 Miami FBI shootout, there was a lot of fallout. Contrary to the opinions of many who know little about the event, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation did NOT sweep the issue under the rug. In fact, they made a major investigation of the incident, piecing together who among the 9 participants in the firefight had fired which of the 129 rounds in that shootout. You can read about it here, or here, if you'd like. I don't have personal knowledge of any facts that would conflict with the FBI findings, or the facts presented above.
What we do know is that the aftermath was controversial. How, wondered many, could two crooks beat a whole squad of FBI men?

Well, first off, they didn't. Both bad guys died, right there on the scene. Unfortunately this occurred not before they killed two and seriously wounded two other FBI agents trying to arrest them. In fact, only one agent managed to avoid injuries.

But that's not good enough.

Well, no, it wasn't. Platt and Matix, the bad guys, almost managed to get away from the shootout scene, with an agent's car.

What were the major problems hindering the FBI? Was it that their guns were insufficient?
Well, no.
Or yes.
Yes and no.

One of the major rules in gunfighting is to have them, if at all possible, using a long gun. Both Platt and Matix adhered to this rule, and the FBI failed pretty badly in this regard. Platt fired 42 rounds of .223 out of his Mini-14 rifle at the agents, and scored lots of hits for effect. No concealable body armor would have stopped those rounds, and only two agents were wearing body armor. Platt was varsity. He had practiced a lot with his Mini-14, and knew how to use it. He had military training, and when the agents ducked behind cover, he advanced on them shooting. Matix fired a 12 gauge shotgun at the agents, getting off only one round. He was shot early on, by one of the agents (McNeil), and that fact likely saved lives. The first order in operations when faced with two such hostile armed men up close is to take out the shotgunner.

Yet the rounds that stopped both men were .38 Special +P lead semi-wadcutter hollow points. These were fired by one of the gutsiest lawmen ever to clank when he walked, Edmundo Mireles.

Mireles deserves special mention. After he was wounded in his left arm, he used his one good arm to cycle and fire his Bureau 12 gauge shotgun 5 times at the two men as they struggled to drive an FBI sedan away. He then advanced on them from the front, killing both men by firing through the windshield with his S&W revolver.

Fiat that the stop was going to happen when and where it did, with that number of agents. What should we have done to equip them differently? Well, shotguns all around would have been nice. Rifles would have been nice. (Notice: LONG guns.) These both would have improved the good guys' hit ratio, but just as importantly would have improved the likelihood of stopping the bad guys with their hits. Matix was hit three times before Mireless made his heroic charge, and Platt was struck at least 9 times before that charge.

How else could we have equipped them better? The FBI decided that the day had dawned when agents should be issued auto pistols of bigger and better calibers. They went through a bizarre process of obtaining 10mm S&W auto guns, then requesting a lighter loading, then ditching the whole 10mm concept altogether and getting .40s, a round that arguably could trace its lineage to the lesser 10mm loadings, which arguably stemmed from reactions to this shootout.

I submit that, while a good auto pistol of a caliber starting with a "four" is a decent start, they would have done better in getting every Bureau car outfitted with a quality auto shotgun.
I have NEVER heard anyone make this argument, and it surprises me. Listen to The Gun Zone's description of the only use of a shotgun by any agent in that gunfight:

"As Platt entered the FBI's Buick and his partner appeared out of nowhere to slip into the passenger's seat, Mireles carefully supported his Remington 870 on the right rear bumper of McNeill's Olds, and fired a round of 00 Buck at Platt, hitting him in the feet. As the man slumped into the driver's seat and sought to restart the car, Ed deliberately pulled the 12 gauge shotgun down between his thighs in his sitting position and with only one hand, worked the action to rearm his weapon, then painfully rolled out and somehow managed to fire at Platt. Four times Mireles did this."
I submit that a shorty Remington 1100 with an extended magazine and 6 shots of anybody's brand of buckshot in each car could have ended that fight fast. I would certainly submit that Mireless sure would have appreciated one that day.

Oh, other lessons? Have backup guns. Have reloads. Only center hits count. And never, ever, ever give up.

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At Wednesday, December 03, 2008 5:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that there was another Bureau vehicle with MP5's that was not at the scene. They might have made the difference in suppressing Platt.

At Wednesday, December 03, 2008 6:33:00 PM, Blogger Joe Allen said...

As an armed civilian, something I learned from the Miami shootout:

Leave your gun holstered until you're ready to use it. If you're in a vehicle, it's in the holster or in a lock box.

As I recall, more than one agent had drawn their service weapon while pursuing the suspects, and when they arrived in dissaray, several of the handguns were not readily to be found. Had they remained holstered, they would have been ready to go.

Having been in a couple of fairly spectacular wrecks, I also learned that anything in the cab of a vehicle that is not secured will do some very unpredictable things once Sir Isaac takes over driving. I would not want a firearm to be one of those things.

At Wednesday, December 03, 2008 8:32:00 PM, Blogger Turk Turon said...

And secure your pistol and eyeglasses. I believe one agent, Grogan, was FBI SWAT team pistol champion, but he lost his glasses and gun in the crash and was the first to die.

Captcha: warbra

At Thursday, December 04, 2008 3:32:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

I remeber when that happened. I was stationed in Fla and the papers were full of the incident. I also remember reading the report and thinking spray and pray wouldn't work! And as Turk and Joe pointed out, there were a number of "lost" weapons and glasses and other things. It was a sad day for LE, but if there is a postive, it has provided a sobering, eye opening look into what really happens in a spur of the moment shoot out. And yes, LONG GUNS WIN!

At Thursday, December 04, 2008 7:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that everybody was ready for what they thathought would happen; the FBI was ready for an arrest, and the bank robbers were ready for a gun fight. What happend was a car accident, and the perps recovered from that better than the FBI did. Perp Platt was hit when climbing out of his vehicle.... if not for that, it would have gone far worse for the G-men.....

Turk- warbra? Is that the top half of the magical armor that fantasy heroines are typically clad in?

At Thursday, December 04, 2008 3:39:00 PM, Blogger Brandon said...

one of the gutsiest lawmen ever to clank when he walked

That's just a great line right there, and an accurate one, too. Good post.

At Wednesday, November 02, 2016 3:34:00 AM, Anonymous Rem870 said...

I am surprised that Mireles was able to fire and CYCLE his Remington 870 with only one hand.
That is why it's important to know your gun and train different scenarios.

At Wednesday, November 02, 2016 3:44:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Reportedly, he put the stock between his legs to do so.

At Thursday, November 03, 2016 8:56:00 AM, Anonymous Rem870 said...

Just tried to cycle my Remington 870 that way and I must say it's not easy. Thanks again for the article!


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