They gunned down two spe­cial agents be­fore be­ing shot dead in this bloody bat­tle, but by then rob­bers Matix and Platt were quite com­fort­able with mur­der­ing

Real Crime - - Contents - Words Ben Biggs

When spe­cial agents cor­nered two vi­o­lent bank rob­bers, the gun­fight would go down as one of the blood­i­est in FBI his­tory

The two crooks ( with a pos­si­ble third in their car) or­dered the guard to ‘ freeze’ be­fore blast­ing him

with a 12- gauge shot­gun

The morn­ing of 11 April 1986 in Pinecrest, Florida, was the time and the scene of a par­tic­u­larly bloody clash be­tween eight FBI spe­cial agents and two vi­o­lent crim­i­nals they had fi­nally tracked down. Michael Lee Platt and Wil­liam Rus­sell Matix were both former mil­i­tary men, hon­ourably dis­charged with glow­ing re­views from their su­pe­ri­ors. They had no pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal records, de­spite each hav­ing a very du­bi­ous his­tory, and that’s prob­a­bly why they got away with four at­tacks on banks and ar­moured cars in six months, be­fore their bloody end.

Their first rob­bery was a mid­day as­sault on a Wells Fargo Ar­moured Car Ser­vice guard in Mi­ami, on 10 Oc­to­ber 1986. The two crooks ( with a pos­si­ble third in their car) or­dered the guard to “freeze” be­fore blast­ing him with a 12- gauge shot­gun, while his ac­com­plice( s) fired at the other guards. They took noth­ing, but this at­tempted rob­bery showed that these crim­i­nals were not afraid of pulling the trig­ger.

The next at­tack, on 8 Novem­ber, was more suc­cess­ful: they made off with $ 41,469 from the Pro­fes­sional Sav­ings Bank at 13100 South Dixie High­way. Ap­par­ently em­bold­ened by their pre­vi­ous hit, their third rob­bery, on 10 Jan­uary 1986, es­ca­lated the blood­shed. Armed with a shot­gun and semi­au­to­matic ri­fle ( pos­si­bly an AR- 15), this time the rob­bers didn’t even give the Brinks Ar­moured Car Com­pany guard a warn­ing be­fore they blasted him in the back and then put two bul­lets in his legs when he was on the ground. They made off with $ 54,000 and switched get­away ve­hi­cles from a gold Chevro­let Monte Carlo to a white Ford Pickup, in an ef­fort to throw the au­thor­i­ties off their trail. When cops found the aban­doned Monte Carlo, they dis­cov­ered that it had been re­ported miss­ing three months pre­vi­ously, on 4 Oc­to­ber 1985, along with its former owner Emilio Briel, who had dis­ap­peared while tar­get shoot­ing at an aban­doned rock pit. Briel’s .22 ri­fle that he was us­ing that day had also dis­ap­peared, and Briel’s skele­tal re­mains were found and fi­nally iden­ti­fied in May 1986.

By the time Matix and Platt ex­e­cuted their fi­nal rob­bery, at­tack­ing the 13593 South Dixie branch of Bar­nett Bank ( for a less suc­cess­ful $ 8,338) on 12 March, the FBI was rapidly com­ing to the con­clu­sion that com­mon per­pe­tra­tors linked the pre­vi­ous three rob­beries. De­spite hav­ing no pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for the rob­bers, the fed­eral agents were con­fi­dent that they would hit another bank in the South Dixie area soon, and sent sur­veil­lance units out on pa­trol when­ever ar­moured cars were mak­ing de­liv­er­ies. It was on one of these in­ten­si­fied pa­trol days that they dis­cov­ered Matix and Platt, driv­ing another stolen Chevro­let Monte Carlo, about to com­mit another rob­bery.

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