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The Miami Shootout - Setting the record straight


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  • The Miami Shootout - Setting the record straight

    Since the FBI shootout in Miami still comes up in discussions about ammunition, I decided to start a thread where we can discuss it in detail.

    My interest in it comes from having been the lead Firearms/Officer Safety Instructor at my (Federal) Agency's academy. Part of my job was the development of lesson plans that would employ a reasoned examination of shootings in our and other agencies, so we would not repeat other's errors. As such, I had access to certain reports and videos that were not in the 'public' domain. I also had (at the time) 17 years experience as a Federal Agent, doing work similar to the FBI. I had been a firearms instructor for 15 years, and I also had seen how the FBI (more than most agencies) would cover up errors by their managers - much moreso than today.

    I want to state up front that I firmly believe the agents on scene acted as they had been trained, with honor and courage. No agent failed to do his duty, and every one tried his best to stop the horror. Let us honor these officers, by learning from what happened.

    My research found errors in training and attitude, the same errors I could find in my own agency. Thus my passion about understanding the problems, defects, and mistakes made, and the ways to avoid repeating them.

    By all means, I am only a Reasonably Knowledgeable Individual, and not an expert on this incident. (ex= something in the past, Spurt= a large drip under pressure). All conclusions shown are strictly my own, and not representative of any official position of my former (I am now retired) agency.

    What do you think? Is this old news, or something worth review? It did change almost everything about guns and ammunition in law enforcement. It marked THE turning point from revolvers to semi-autos.
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
    John Stuart Mill

  • #2
    I started another thread, as you requested - but you did, too!

    I'll try to drop the other thread; I don't yet know how.

    Here is a cut and paste from that other thread:

    - - -
    This discussion starts from different opinions about the implications of the Miami Massacre (the infamous shootout in which many fine Federal officers lost their lives) and what I perceive is the overly vaunted efficacy of the 9mm and other smaller bore rounds for law enforcement use.

    A friendly disagreement on these items started on another thread in the "Firearms" subtopic.

    Here is my take:
    Sanow's writings have indeed been found to be questionable in various areas. I believe that his tables, for instance, show a shot-to-drop ratio (or whatever they call it; haven't looked it up recently) of over 100% for some calibers, which apparently is not explained by two people being dropped with one bullet, for instance.

    Yet if you look at the tables and check with other agencies that track the efficacy of certain rounds, and use Sanow's work as at least an indicator, you are still left with many shootings in which the 9mm fails to adequately penetrate a small barrier when a hollow point or fragmenting bullet is used, and other instances throughout the country where the 9mm did not effectively put a stop to the assailant's antisocial advances.

    Simplistically, I have followed police shootings in the Fresno area (where I worked for 12 years as a deputy sheriff, CSI, detective and then undercover officer), with both the Fresno PD and the Fresno County SO (one of my four LE employers).

    Our rangemasters have also tracked these shootings. When our two agencies were led down that primrose path to the 9mm (with heavy input from the FBI Training Division), we started to have more police involved shootings during the same period of time, apparently because of the increase in violent criminal behavior of that era - about the time that Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Bill. At that time, extremely violent street and prison gangs started to flourish in that community. Fresno started to rise on the charts as having the most homicides per capita in the U.S., on certain months, and it has remained a pretty violent city since that time. The sleepy agricultural area changed into a haven for narcotics and gangs due to a number of reasons that have already been beat to death here.

    As shootings increased, we eventually moved to the .45 and .40 caliber handguns. Immediately following this change, I saw many one-shot stops, to put it euphemistically. At one time I was tracking the numbers. I foolishly threw away my data as I moved to the DMV Bureau of Investigations, and I didn't use databases as extensively as I do now. But I would submit that, just based upon my experience alone, I would say that the 9mm can't hold a candle to the .40 or the .45; and the numbers whether flawed or not, show the same thing in the Sanow tables and elsewhere.

    Our training on the Miami Massacre took place more than once at our local police academy (Advanced Officer Training, required each year along with other updates throughout the year). My memory may be flawed, since it has been several years since I worked for an SO, but I seem to recall that the FBI immediately started looking for a replacement for the very caliber that they talked many police agencies into - the 9mm - immediately after the shooting. I will look up the articles on the Internet; but right now - am I wrong or right on this last issue? And if I am right, and you put heavy stock in the FBI, how can you defend the 9mm as a first line of police defense when there are over much superior rounds available?


    • #3
      OK - tried to do some research on the "Miami Shootout" and the "Miami Massacre" (as we call it in Fresno). There are many writeups. You and I both concur that we can't necessarily depend upon the "official line," since we both know of the provincial way that FB-1 has, at times, covered up their mistakes in policy, decsion-making or operations.

      I hasten to say that I agree that the agents involved acted honorably, did the best they could, and that their names are to be honored and grieved over the loss.

      But moving on - you have put me in a position of immediate disadvantage when you say that you have information that is not immediately available to others. I respect your views, but as a veteran who has had his hard knocks, I don't accept things on face value - I like to see the evidence myself. Can you please direct me to a link where I can get some creditable information on the shootout? After all these years, I don't have the reports that were put out to peace officers who all studied the shootout (which is probably every cop in the U.S. during that time period).

      Links or sources, please. Not interested in the "I know something that I can't share" line. Thanks!


      • #4
        John, I will share everything I have, but I'm not a 'computer geek', so I don't know where to find things on the web. Much of what I learned came from a video tape of a lecture at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center by the Sgt. from Metro-Dade who was in charge of the crime scene investigation. Since he was not a Fed, he did not bend things to protect the FBI reputation. I also had a face-to-face with him.

        Some of what I took from my study of the events is that way too much weight was put on the "failure" of the 115g 9mm Silvertip round. This was part of the FBI screen, to keep officers from looking too closely at what really affected the outcome.

        Some of the elements that I believe influenced the deaths and wounding of the officers:
        1.They did not leave the office with the attitude that "today would be THE day! Thus shotguns in cases on the back seat, body armor not worn.
        2. They had not been taught how to make a felony stop!
        3. They declined getting assistance, or even notifying the locals.
        4. They did a poor surveillence, getting severly 'burned' so the outlaws could get ready.
        5. Poor choice of location for the stop.
        6. No organization after the vehicles came to rest.
        7. No target orientation ("I fired at the drivers window..." why not at the driver?)
        8. The FBI fired something like 147 rounds, and made a total of 12 hits - 11 by one agent! (1shotgun round is 1 hit, not 9.The shotgun hit numbers is another part of the FBI screen, to make their hit factor look higher.)

        BTW, did you ever hear of the blue van? Metro Dade says a blue van drove right through the shooting and took hits. It was never found.

        Overall, my take is that with a different mental approach to the possiblities, S/A's Dove and Grogan could have lived, and the other agents not been wounded. The caliber of the guns used is a non-issue if you do not hit your target!

        Edited to add: The FBI diverted most folks to looking at the hardware, when what I saw is solved by 'software', i.e. training. Let me train a group, equip them all with 9mm's, and see a different outcome to this type of event.
        So, I worry less about the rounds used, and more about the tactics.
        Last edited by Sleuth; 08-19-2005, 06:55 PM.
        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
        John Stuart Mill


        • #5
          I have been in two life or death close range shooting incidents. one with a 5 shot Rossi .38, and one with a Baretta (sp?) 9mm.
          The 9mm was in Africa, I was able to surprise a target and place 6 out of 15 rounds in the gut, chest and face, dropped like a turd and i ran like hell (after picking up his long gun, mine was broke.)
          The .38 was during an attempted carjacking, I shot at the moron with my weak hand while doing a left footed Russian ballet and shot the **** out of my car while landing one round in his butt, just above his lower leg.
          Both times I was scared to DEATH, I took the time once to place my shots and achieved a favorable out come, but I also controlled when I took on the target, the second time it was more of off the cuff type of tactics.
          My point being planning and shot placement, I would feel comfortable taking on a bad guy with a .22 if I had time to set up the shot and surprise the guy.
          All of that said, a 9mm might expand but a .45 never shrinks.
          After the pin is pulled, Mr. Hand Grenade is no longer your friend.

          "Shut the door I'm tryin to poop!" - Larry the Cable Guy

          (O.o )
          (> < )


          • #6
            I remember seeing an FBI training tape that recreated the shootout in great detail and had extensive interviews with the surviving Agents (I'm assuming you've seen it).

            You guys are experts about this incident in comparison to me- do you think the FBI mislead or omitted important info from it?
            Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The first amendment protected views/commentary/opinions/satire expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer.


            • #7
              OK I will jump

              State certified (oklahoma) firearms instructor. Pistol, Rifle , Shotgun and sub machines.
              Im now retired and havent been on the range in 7 years with a rookie class, thank god.
              My opinion and thats all it is. Know the history of the round as well as the weapon. The 9mm was designed to be a submachine gun round before it was a pistol round. It has much better penetrating power comeing out the long barrell over a standard duty short barrel pistol. The round just cant reach its full potential.

              Regards the FB1 pushing the round before the big shoot out, yeah, I remember it and wasnt to impressed with the round or the guns available at the time. GIve me my .45acp or my .38 super. If nothing else my rhino roller .357. But NO 9mm for the street. And yes I remember the feds starting to look around after. Does anyone remember the big push for the 10mm and what about the much vaunted .40. But wait, lets not forget that its usually the rookies that rush out and buy every new gizzmo that is produced and then whine if the brass whould prefer to do some research on the item before its allowed on the street. I digress though.

              But than again, its REALLY nice not being around a buch of dummies at the academy who have never even handled a gun and are scared S------s by those nasty things.
              I may not be able to see the front sight anymore but I bet I could still scare the crap outa a maggott down range.


              • #8
                And I always thought FBI and then rest of the world opted for 9 mm because there was no other gun, which had 15 or more rounds capacity. As I was told two agents involved in the Miami shootout were former HRT members and they carried 9 mm handguns and after being wounded they were still able to reload and fire back, in the same time their colleges armed with revolvers were unable or had hard time to do same, but to preserve revolvers honor one of robbers was fatally shoot with 38 SPL. ( BUG) fired from one inch barrel. Guy who killed thousands of elephants in Africa in early 1900 said everything when asked why he use 7x75 caliber rifle (very small bore, smaller then 30-30) and not Elephant gun (read canon) like everybody else replaying


                • #9
                  190, in regards to the .38 Super, is that still a viable Law Enforcement round. I have toyed around with the idea of getting a Kimber Pro Carry HDII in it for off duty. The FBI practically introduced the round, did they not. I am just curious about its capabilities.

                  I have too many questions about this whole topic. Like how did the FBI get so caught up in capacity, when revolvers were still the common duty weapon? Having never shot a 10mm, is the recoil comparable to a .45ACP?

                  Here is my main argument for the .45 ACP. Alvin York shot something like 5 Germans with a 1911 in WWI. Not to mention his other heroics with the 1903 Springfield. He certainly showed that the .45 is a manstopper. Why have so many departments shyed away from such a proven caliber? I understand the capacity issue, which is now a non-issue with HK's and Glocks.

                  Thanks for any info.


                  • #10
                    Good posts!

                    Unfortunately, I probably did not adequately explain what I'm trying to drill down into with regards to the Miami Massacre. It centers on the inadequate 9mm, despite any operational errors, which I acknowledge also occurred.

                    I prefer to call it the "massacre" because it is called this by many and can be found on http://www.google.com if you enter "miami massacre fbi" - see for yourself. And indeed, it was a massacre, not a shootout.

                    Yes, the agents were not properly trained for the activity in which they were involved (vehicle stops), as noted by Sleuth. That is another problem that I have had with the FBI attitude - their highly trained, well educated and highly motivated agents, many of whom I knew and know on a personal level, were fed the BS in their Academy that they can do it all, and they get a Superman attitude. In municipal law enforcement officer survival training, we call that "tombstone courage." That attitude was sometimes apparent when "local" cops were teamed up with a rookie Federal Agent on a shared assignment, and many police oriented movies show the bumbling agent who wouldn't accept input from the streetwise but underpaid local pro with a badge.

                    I recall some of what is posted here, but Sleuth did a great job. It's not the agents' fault, and I acknowledge that a large agency like that has to maintain some credibility to gain the ongoing respect and cooperation of allied agencies. In all fairness to this broadside shot of another LE agency, I have seen a dramatic change in this policy in recent years. This is probably due to input from former street cops who are now agents, and who have talked with the management! Or perhaps Hollywood has reached that agency with its messages.

                    Our officer safety training that critiqued the Miami incident was NOT from the FBI, and I wish I still had the handouts. I believe that it was pretty accurate, and not written by the agency involved; possibly by the Miami police agency. There was some info with some pretty grisly photos regarding the actual damage done by all the bullets that hit home - on the officers as well as the bad guys; but the years have robbed me of the details that were presented in the reports. Indeed, I kept them for many years, but they finally hit the trash can when I made my infrequent cleaning of the tons of police and survival related material that accumulated in my garage. The reason for all this interest: My best friend (and a fellow VN era survivor) was killed in a shootout in which I was involved, so I'm one of those guys who became obsessed with officer survival. As you can imagine, I have been very vocal and have given much input to the agencies where I have worked regarding this subject, and am frankly dismissive of instructors who have not really done their homework when repeating just what they have been told.

                    I get this shootout mixed up with the Newhall Incident in which some California Highway Patrol officers were similarly taken out. One of the issues in California was that the CHP (at that time) made too big a thing about breaking the seal that was placed on the patrol car shotgun. It led to questions and required paperwork that would follow, which in turn led to officer hesitation in bringing out the shotgun at the onset of the confrontation. Sheriff's officers would pull out the scattergun, but CHP officers were far more circumspect, given the same set of circumstances. And the radio call that the CHP officers had received had identified these subjects as having displayed a firearm; so they knew this information before they approached the suspects. But the shotgun (at least initially - again, memory robs me) never came out of the rack. Training and policies - badly faulted for both agencies.

                    In one of the two tragedies, and I THINK it was the Miami one that we are speaking about, an officer was busy looking down while reloading instead of staying aware of the scene around him, and the thug sneaked up around his police car and behind him, finishing him off with a head shot, as I remember.

                    So we agree that there was officer error, where proper training could have helped save lives. But that is still not what I want to search for. Of those few shots that were successfully made - the subject of my argument with the 9mm round - what were the terminal ballistics?

                    Specifically -
                    1) Wasn't it decided that the hollowpoint 9mm's were useless in penetrating the car door, car body, and/or car glass of the assailants' vehicle? My personal tests of various .45 hp loads show that the larger round penetrates better than it gets credit for. Claims that the .45 would bounce off window glass, as told to me by the Fresno County SO training staff, were based upon the nonsense that they were fed - where those tests against window glass were done with the roundnosed .45 full metal case military round instead of existing, newer and faster hollowpoints that were widely available. Yes, the 9mm full metal jacket rounds penetrated better. But this was upside down, since we were at that time carrying 9mm hp's, not the full metal case rounds, and they would break up on fairly modest barriers of other types. And once they traveled through a barrier, they were pretty useless against the target beyond the barrier due to their light weight (low mass) and resultant loss of momentum. Can you see the insanity of that mindset? The .45 that would not be used for duty was tested against glass and failed; and the 9mm round that we didn't carry was used to show that it penetrates and is a superior duty round! Neither test was valid, yet ours was one of many police agencies that espoused the superiority of the 9mm on flawed data like this.

                    2) So - what happened with the actual 9mm round(s) that hit their intended target at the Miami incident?

                    3) Did the report in fact outline that the 9mm's would not penetrate the car that was shot at (I think it was a pickup truck, if memory serves - it's fuzzy right now).

                    4) To recap for those asking, and please feel free to correct me on these points, Sleuth:

                    a) The FBI brought us to the .357 in the 60's - a good choice for revolvers, which were then the standard, due to their believed reliability over the semi-auto (despite the rock solid reliability of the .45 Colt ACP, .38 Super, 9mm Browning Hi Power, and other autos available at the time). Our California Highway Patrol, arguably one of the best police agencies in the world, adopted that caliber, partly because of the proven ability of that caliber to penetrate car metal and glass in felony stops, and partly because of its proven ballistic superiority over the humble .38 Special. That highly influenced local agencies (police, sheriffs, other fringe agencies) in their choice of that caliber, and many officers (including me, at the time) switched to the .357 from the .38 Special.

                    b) Newer designs in bullet manufacture brought out some wonderful hollow point designs. But then the engineers of the era became overly obsessed with something called "hydrostatic shock" and put out a lot of figures and data, some of which was accurate, and some of which was just bad science when it was compared against the results of actual shootings and tests on various media. I think at that time there were those tests on anesthetized goats. Anyway, we were sold a bill of goods about the 9mm and .38+P being superior to large bore, slower moving rounds. See above about the use of the wrong bullet configuration for data. Then we were told that the higher capacity of the 9mm meant more survivability. Yet there were VERY few documented incidents where an officer either had the opportunity, ability or was forced to shoot a felon more than 7 times, which is the capacity of a standard .45 caliber auto. As for multiple assailants requiring fast reloads, there were large bore semi-auto pistols available that could also be quickly reloaded, albeit the 9mm held a few more rounds in each magazine.

                    d) The argument that a 9mm is more controllable is a somewhat of a valid one, although the .45 recoil has been and is highly overblown, and can be overcome with PROPER training and a little practice. My diminutive (and not particularly athletic) 5'6" wife, your "standard" feminine type person who does not ride horses or jump motorcycles, learned to shoot (from me) with a .45. A lot of the intimidation factor is because of the size, the slide action, and the larger boom (but not a high frequency one, which is more damaging to the ears). The heavier .45 helps to dampen the reported recoil. I believe that there is more of a psychological factor than a physical factor that affects the aim of a person using a large bore, although one must acknowledge that the measured recoil of a large bore is more. But it ain't no .454 Casull, neither.

                    e) After Miami, a panel or panels of experts, in which the FBI had much or most of the input, looked to other firearms besides the ineffective 9mm. I'm trying to find out what they acknowledged was the reason for this expensive switch to a different handgun. The panel (mainly FBI) centered upon a 10mm round and there was a testing period. The results: Some agents, and mainly the females who are understandably of smaller stature and who do not have as much upper body strength as their mail counterparts, complained that they could not fire the weapon accurately, due to the recoil. The FBI then requested and received from (Remington?) a reduced "FBI" load - a sort of "10mm short" - that was more manageable for all concerned. Additionally there were some questions about overpenetration with the original 10mm. In order to make sure that the appropriate lightened load was standard, Smith & Wesson introduced the .40 S&W in a shorter casing for a pistol chambered for that particular round, which is now history.

                    f) The .40 holds a few more rounds in a magazine and its ballistics are impressive, I concur. But the .45 is still king, in my opinion and apparently in the opinion of those who are called in for the serious gunplay, like LAPD SWAT among many other municipal and Federal elite teams. It appears to me that the 9mm is better than nothing, especially when you must be able to hit what you aim at. As for me, I believe that the peace officer community would be better served by just setting aside more time to properly train those officers who have problems with the .45, to bring their accuracy up, and then arm them with that round. Whole agencies have indeed effectively switched to this round, including the Fresno Co SO and Clovis (CA) PD, just in my area.

                    g) The high velocity of the hot 9mm's and especially the .357 Magnum, and to a lesser degree the .40 S&W is not being considered - how these adversely affect officer safety vs. the use of the more sedate .45. I mentioned that I was involved in a shootout that killed my best friend and partner, at the time. Without rehashing the whole sad affair, I carried a .357 at the time as returned fire to a then-barricaded subject from behind a car. The tremendous velocity of my SuperVel bullets made me somewhat deaf, and my ears rang for three days after that. For over two weeks after the shootout, everybody that I could hear was lisping, I thought. I was at first so convinced that my wife was lisping that I tape recorded her and played the tape back, only to be told that it was hearing loss, not the people I was speaking to. I had an ear test and there was a small amount of permanent hearing loss in precisely the higher frequency range that I have since learned is emitted by high velocity medium bore bullets. Since my agency of the time, the Madera County SO, allowed you to carry whatever you could qualify with (although non-.357 ammo had to be supplied by you for range training), I went to the .45 and carried that as my duty weapon thereafter with that agency. I had learned from experimentation that its muzzle flash and blast are nowhere near the magnums or +P smaller bore projectiles. Night flash from a handgun reduces your ability to get off a second shot, and I am concerned that practically no law enforcement rangemasters that I have talked with have ever looked into this! They just accept the powders available, instead of collectively making demands of the manufacturers. It is now in the last few years, with the input from special tactics personnal of police and military units that this is being addressed, as with the Hornady TAP ammo with its lower muzzle flash, for the reasons discussed.

                    OK - that's my complaint about 9mm, concerns about officer safety, and story all in one long post. If you are still awake, Sleuth, I'd still like to know:

                    * What the FBI or Miami or other interested parties reported about the few duty rounds that actually hit their inteded target
                    * If (as I think I remember) the report(s) mentioned that part of the problem was that the agents could not fire into the bad guys' vehicle with effect due to insufficient penetration of the HP lightweight 9mm rounds that they carried.
                    Last edited by JohndeFresno; 08-20-2005, 03:05 PM.


                    • #11

                      According to Chuck Hawks, the Speer manual, and other sources -
                      The .38 Super was developed in 1929 by John Browning (who gave us the .45 ACP, as well) as a more powerful replacement of the .38 Auto. It used the same frame that was used for the .45 ACP, and he tried to sell it to the U.S. Army. Ultimately, the Army elected to go to the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol, also designed by Browning, which was even more superior in stopping power.

                      The .38 Super was a favorite among some police and gangsters because of its tremendous power, and because of its ability to penetrate vehicles, which is touched upon by this thread! In fact, Chuck Hawks at his website (http://www.chuckhawks.com) states that it was known, when it was introduced, as "the most powerful handgun in the world." Does that sound familiar, Inspector Callahan?

                      I recall reading in Guns and Ammo and elsewhere, over the years, that it is still very popular in Mexico because that country bans the use of any handgun calibers that are used by the military. Since their government troops use (or used to use) the .45 ACP, the public could (at the time I last heard this) purchase the .38 Super in the same type of handgun without interference from the government. So apparently the handgun is still very popular south of the border.

                      You can do a little research at ammunition vendor sites or in a reloading manual and see that the .38 Super's ballistics approach but don't quite equal the .357 Magnum in similar weight factory loadings. My impression from firing the gun is that the slide takes up a fair amount of the recoil versus the .357 medium weight revolvers, but it has a bit of a snappy recoil. It is loud and piercing, something that I complain about in combat guns.

                      I have carried the .40, and its recoil is a bit quicker but not as much of a push, from my feel, as a .45 - all in all, the .40 has a little less recoil to my feeling; but I compare a Glock with my Government MKVI, and the two guns are different. I've never fired the 10mm, but this is a .40 caliber with more powder than the S&W .40, so in the same gun it will kick a bit more. I have heard that it kicks a bit more than a novice can easily handle without proper training (proper grip, overcoming a tendency to flinch by alternating empties with live rounds, etc.); something that does not always (from my experience) show up as dramatically when you fire a .22 or .38 or even a 9mm.

                      Unless you have your eyes on a good buy in a used Colt .38 Super that you can't pass up, you might wish to look at the 10mm instead, if you want a high speed .357 caliber semi-auto gun. Some handgun hunters love that 10mm.

                      As far as getting caught up in this bullet capacity thing, I think that some decisions were made by engineers and not lawmen. As noted elsewhere, one is hard pressed to find any information regarding a shootout where more than 7 rounds was needed on one assailant, and the difference between 7 and 12 rounds does not move me (for one) to switch to a smaller caliber of questionable use.

                      Here's another silly argument that agencies used in demanding that everybody switch to a particular caliber, like the 9mm - "interchangeability of ammunition." I can remember my disbelief when I was told this for the first time by a person whom I thought was knowledgeable about officer tactics. This was after I left Madera County for a larger agency. In Madera, we could fire anything that we could master (.38 or above) that the rangemaster could maintain. In a shootout, I was told, your partner might need your ammo. Well, I was in the middle of a major shootout. Guess what? Nobody had time to even THINK about scrounging around for ammunition; and for that matter, nobody ran out of ammo because we all carried more than 18 rounds (with a revolver, that's just one cylinder full and two pouches). Unless one is storming a garrison, when would one need more than 18 rounds? And if so, then you suit up and grab some extra boxes. And how willing is one officer to give up his ammo to another, if he's in the line of fire, anyway?

                      I have tried to find a single instance where one officer has given ammo to another in a shooting situation. So far, I've never heard of one, but there may be a story out there somewhere.
                      Last edited by JohndeFresno; 08-20-2005, 03:59 PM.


                      • #12
                        Over the years, I've been exposed to a fair amount of information on the Miami shootout. I attended the briefing the FBI offered to law enforcement some months after the shooting. In 1994, Special Agent Eddie Mireles (the agent who finally killed the two suspects) was an instructor when I attended the then-Metro-Dade Police Officer Survival Instructor School. I've also reviewed the tape of SGT David Rivera's lecture at FLETC, the FBI's videotape on the incident, and several other documents.

                        I am certainly no ballistics expert. As a street officer and a firearms instructor, I understand the confidence that many have in the .45 platform. On the other hand, I believe there have been significant improvements in the 9mm round since the events on South Dixie Highway.

                        There have been many valid points made about the Miami shooting. In the end, I feel issues of tactics and mindset were more significant than ballistics. During his class at MDPD, several of us asked Mireles why the agents did not do this or that (have more shotguns, wear armor, etc.). Mireles put it bluntly: "We never expected to find those guys."

                        I'm in the process of moving, so most of my training material is packed away at the new house. Allow me to offer some points from memory.

                        Only three of the eight agents involved in the takedown were armed with 9mm pistols. Ben Grogan, Jerry Dove, and Ron Riesner were all SWAT-trained agents and were armed with S&W Model 59's. The five other agents were armed with various revolvers. Off hand, I don't recall what ammunition was being used in the wheel guns. At least two shotguns were in the FBI vehicles, but only one agent (Mireles) was able to access his slidegun.

                        Significantly, several agents emptied their weapons and had to reload. In the case of two agents, it seems their inability to quickly reload their revolvers while wounded resulted in more significant injuries. Riesner, who was firing from some distance, emptied his 59, fired an additional round from his .38 snubnose back-up, then reloaded and re-engaged with his pistol.

                        I do not believe that the ability of handgun rounds to penetrate vehicles was a significant issue in this incident. The passenger-suspect (without my notes, I don't want to mix up their names) was out of the vehicle during most of the four minutes of the shootout.

                        If I recall correctly, the passenger-offender sustained two non-survivable wounds, at least one from 9mm, before being put down by Mireles. One of the non-survivable wounds was a brachial artery hit. The other penetrated his torso.

                        I cannot speak to the FBI encouraging or not encouraging other agencies to adopt the 9mm prior to the Miami shootout. At the briefing some months after the incident, a local officer asked about the advisability of adopting semi-automatic pistols. The response ( I believe given by the Bureau's lead firearms instructor) was that he did not see a need for general issue in the FBI. He felt that agents in reactive squads (working bank robberies, kidnappings, and so forth) might need a pistol while agents assigned to public corruption, white collar crime, and such were well servd with a revolver. (I've been trying to avoid editorializing in this post, but I recall thinking that the FBI really hadn't learned a thing from the sacrifice of their agents.)

                        While the tactics of the agents in this incident may be criticized, their heroism and devotion to duty are unquestionable. Some might comment upon their marksmanship ability, but the incident scene was both shadowed and had dust kicking up. Ben Grogan lost his glasses during the chase and probably could not see well enough to fight effectively. Jerry Dove's Model 59 was struck by a suspect round and disabled. (Sadly, he did not have a long gun or a back-up.) Both Grogan and Dove were killed during the incident. Riesner was some distance from the offenders, but may have delivered one of the fatal rounds.

                        I hope this information offers some insight into the South Dixie Highway incident. Again, I'm doing this from memory as I can't consult my notes. (I certainly I hope I'm spelling Eddie Miriles' name correctly.)

                        Be safe.
                        Last edited by John from Maryland; 08-20-2005, 06:29 PM.
                        John from Maryland


                        • #13
                          Great post John, very informative.
                          Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The first amendment protected views/commentary/opinions/satire expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer.


                          • #14
                            Thanks, John from Maryland. Great recap. And now I know why some agents stayed with the revolver. When FBI went to the Model 59, so did the Fresno SO and many others. It sounds like the circumstances, not the caliber, weighed more heavily in the tragedy. A good lesson for us all to go over, once again. May those honorable agents rest in peace.


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the information, it is greatly appreciated. I already have my Glock 23 and USP 45, neither of which are duty weapons. We are relegated to the Beretta 96, which is 13 years old at our PD. Again thanks for the info, and maybe I can convince the PD to let us carry what we want.


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