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THE MIAMI INCIDENT

On April 11, 1986, eight Miami FBI agents were involved in what turned into one of 
most brutal gunfights in LEO history.  Even though it was a non-typical gunfight 
and it involved FBI agents, we can learn a lot from the incident.  This is a general
overview of the events leading up to and including the final incident:

For several months before the incident, two armed men (Platt and Matix) committed 
a string of successful bank and armored car robberies.  All of the robberies were 
at locations along the same highway, and were all committed on the same day about 
the same time.  After noticing the pattern, the FBI decided to stake out positions
along the highway and try to apprehend the two men.  One day prior to the incident 
the robbers came across a young man in the everglades shooting a pistol at tin cans.
Using a .357 magnum, they shot him twice in the body.  After a brief struggle, they 
asked him if he was a cop.  He replied 'no,' and then they shot him once in the head
and took his car and gun.  The young man then crawled three miles to the highway for
help.  The morning of the incident, the agents were staked out along the highway and
they did in fact spot the robbers in the vehicle stolen the previous day.  After a
pursuit and an attempt at a felony stop, the agents became involved in a shootout
that lasted several minutes.  

After the smoke cleared, both assailants and two of the federal agents were dead, 
and all but two of the remaining agents were wounded.  Most of the agents shot 
their pistols dry and most of the agents had been shot in the hand.  All of the 
agents had shotguns and/or body armor available to them, but only a couple of them 
had either with them during the fight.  The others' equipment was locked up in 
either the backseat or the trunk of their respective vehicles.  In the end, one 
agent was able to get to his shotgun and finally brought an end to the rampage by 
shooting the assailants with multiple shots of buckshot, and six final rounds from 
his service revolver.

There are many things that can be observed here, but here are the most obvious:

 1. Both assailants took multiple hits including a round in the lung, but none of 
    these shots stopped them immediately.  Even in the end, it took multiple shots
    from a shotgun, and six additional rounds from a handgun to end the fight.  Most
    of the hits were in non-vital areas, but a few were good hits, and some of the
    shotgun pellets hit the assailants in the head, but did not stop them immediately.
    The toxicology report showed no drugs or alcohol in either BG's system.  Handguns 
    (guns in general) are not the powerful one-shot stop instruments of immediate 
    death portrayed by television, movies, and the media.  Both felons continued to 
    fight for about 4 minutes even after receiving multiple gunshot wounds.  Most of
    the agents continued to fight after being hit multiple times.

 2. Jose Collazo (spelling may be incorrect) took the three .357 rounds (including one
    to the head) but was able to crawl three miles away to the highway for help, and
    survived completely.  No gun/caliber is a guaranteed one-shot stop (see #1 and #3).

 3. Head-shots may be totally worthless unless the bullet actually hits the brain, and 
    then only if it hits the motor-control area.  Both assailants and the young man 
    from previous day had hits in the head, but the shots did not 'stop' them.  To be
    immediately physically effective, a head-shot must hit the 'ocular window.'

 4. Shots that don't hit vital areas may have no effect.  Bullets stop people by actually 
    creating holes in vital organs and causing the attacker to bleed out or by damaging 
    the spinal cord, which causes the inability to remain standing.  To hit the spinal 
    cord, a bullet must make it through all of the organs, be almost exactly centered in
    the body, and have enough energy remaining to damage the spinal cord when it reaches
    it.  Shots to the head stop people by hitting the brain.  Shots in non-vital areas 
    may not cause a 'psychological' stop.  Both of the assailants had multiple hits, but
    both kept fighting, and the same can be said for most of the federal agents.

 5. All of the agents had body armor in their vehicles, but only a few were wearing it.   
    Most of the agents had shotguns, but only one deployed his.  Because of this, two 
    agents died, and all but two of the others were severely wounded.  Once a fight
    starts, you cannot 'go get' equipment.  What you have with you is all you get.  
    Equipment that is in your car, in your glove box, or at home does not count.

 6. Shoot until the fight is over.  One or two shots may not be enough.  There is no 
    magic number of rounds you will fire that will automatically stop the attacker.

 7. One agent fired six shots from a distance of 6-8 feet (that's FEET, not yards), 
    only scored only a single superficial hit.  "Spray and pray" does not work.  You 
    must watch the front sight and press the trigger.

 8. If you pull your gun, you may have to actually shoot it.  If you face multiple 
    attackers, which is very common, you may actually have to shoot all the attackers.
    Never assume just pulling your gun or even firing a shot will solve your problem 
    A criminal may not be impressed because you have a gun.  Some are crazy, on drugs, 
    assume you won't shoot them, or don't care and are not afraid to die, or would 
    rather die than go to jail.  Here were two criminals facing eight federal agents,
    yet neither one was afraid to fight.

 9. During the robberies previous to the incident, the assailants shot and wounded 
    or killed several people, even when no resistance was offered and they got the 
    money.  Never assume complying with an attacker will save your life.

10. One of the two agents that was not wounded was using the engine block of his 
    vehicle as cover.  The other was across the street behind a brick wall.  This 
    agent pulled his gun and placed it in his lap during the felony stop attempt, 
    and upon impact of the vehicles, the gun fell out of his car door.  He had no 
    backup weapon and could only watch helplessly as his comrades faced the felons. 
    During a later interview he stated he pulled his gun out during the chase because
    he didn't feel confident he could get to it quickly enough if it was still in the 
    holster.  This actually happened to two agents, but the other agent had a five-shot
    back-up revolver on his ankle, and was involved in the fight with that instead.  
    Several lessons can be learned here; 1. You must practice so you will be proficient
    and feel confident.  Under stress, most people will not try something they're not 
    confident they can do, 2. If you don't need your gun, put it or leave it in the 
    holster or you may lose it, 3. Cover works.  Use it if it is available.

11. One agent had a S&W 9mm handgun and two hi-capacity magazines, which will hold 
    16 rounds each.  He had the magazines downloaded with only 20 rounds of ammo (10
    in the gun plus 10 in a spare magazine) in a gun that could have afforded him 33
    rounds.  There is no way to know if the extra 13 rounds of ammo would have stopped 
    the fight, but there was no good reason for him to download the gun.  He stated he
    did it because the gun was too heavy to carry when fully loaded.  Convenience is
    secondary to having equipment when you need it.  There are a lot of people who
    have carry permits who never actually carry their gun or they only carry their
    gun occasionally or only incertain places because they consider it inconvenient. 
    If today is the day you need a particular piece of equipment to stay alive but 
    today is the day you didn't bring that particular piece of equipment, you die.  
    It is always preferable to be slightly inconvenienced, rather than dead.

12. Always realize you may have a problem today.  One of the things I noticed when reviewing 
    the unedited FBI version of the story is, the agents did not have a plan.  They met that
    morning, and they only discussed was which agents would stake out on which parts of the 
    highway.  They never discussed what they would do if they actually found the robbers, even
    though they knew ahead of time what they might face.  Never assume you won't be involved 
    in something today.  If you assume, then are attacked, you won't be prepared.

13. One of the agents took a .223 round in the right hand.  The bullet shattered his hand, 
    and rendered the hand practically useless (bones were protruding from the injured hand),
    yet he continued to try to reload his revolver with his right hand, with no thought of 
    trying to manipulate the gun with his weak hand.  He was further severely injured while
    looking down still trying to reload the gun with his right hand.  You should practice a 
    variety of skills, not just those you are good at, and have it engrained in your mind, or
    you won't think of them when you need them.  This also happened to another agent, but he 
    reloaded his revolver with his weak hand. 

14. You should be able to perform reloads without looking at the gun or you should keep
    the gun in your line of sight while looking around.  One agent was shot and paralyzed
    while looking down trying to reload.  It is statistically unlikely you will reload in 
    a typical gunfight, but if you do need to, you need to do it fast.  Statistically
    unlikely does not mean it never happens; only that is unlikely to happen.

15. Keep your guard up.  One other agent was shot at by the second perpetrator while he was 
    shooting at the first.  The second attacker out-flanked him, came around behind him, 
    and shot him at almost point blank range.

16. Regarding #15:  the assailant walked up behind the agent and fired three shots at him, 
    at a distance of only two feet (some say point blank range,) yet all three shots missed.
    Aimed fire is always preferable to point shooting.

17. Never give up, even if you are shot or otherwise injured.  All but one of the agents 
    actually involved in the gunfight were injured, most of them had multiple rifle hits,
    but they kept fighting.  The young man that was shot by the .357 did not die and was 
    able to crawl to a highway three miles away to find help.

18. One agent was killed when his eye-glasses were knocked off and he could not see to 
    engage the adversary.  If you wear prescription glasses, you should practice without 
    them occasionally (use safety glasses!) so you can see how you perform 'blind.'

19. The agents who had semi-autos were specially authorized because they were SWAT members.  
    It matters not how much you train, or how 'specialized' you are.  Spray and pray does
    not work.  Spray and pray = shoot and miss.

20. In a later interview, the agent that ultimately stopped the fight stated he thought to 
    himself how he had to stop the felons at any cost and how he used his anger to finish
    the fight.  The agent that was paralyzed stated he thought about how he was afraid to 
    die and how he would miss his wife and children.  Attitude may make the difference.




There were some other comments here, but decided to delete them.  If you're interested in
reading the notes, email me.
    


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