“I heard the air go out of him”
Many years after these deadly five minutes, Matix and Platt’s survivors still reflect on a life- altering day
In 2011, 25 years after the FBI Miami shootout, two survivors – Jose Collazo and former Special Agent John Hanlon – spoke about their harrowing experiences. Just like murdered Emilio Briel, Collazo was target shooting at a rock pit when Matix and Platt robbed him at gunpoint. He was asked whether he was a cop, and they shot him four times when he told them he wasn’t. Collazo commented on how professional they seemed, saying, “Platt was pointing the gun at me and his hand didn’t even tremble.”
Hanlon remembered Special Agent Grogan telling them they “wouldn’t go easy” and that Matix and Platt “were about as bad as you can get”. When Hanlon was shot in the arm, he recalled thinking that he was going to bleed out, but the situation got far worse after Platt charged around their vehicle to catch Grogan and Dove by surprise. “He came around and I tried to kick him and then scoot back – he shot me in the groin. I figured he was going to kill me… that’s when Dove fell down. And he brushed against me. His right shoulder blade was the only thing between my head and his head, and I’m looking in his ear, his eyes were closed. He tried to raise his head and I heard ‘ pow pow’ and he dropped his head down – he was facing away from me and had a hole in the back of his head. And the guy was shooting and all the brass was falling on me and tinkling in the street, and then Ben said, ‘ Oh my God,’ and he fell down at my feet. I heard Grogan die. I heard the air go out of him.”
Of the eight agents who exchanged fire with the robbers, two died, five were injured – three seriously – and only one walked away from the shootout unscathed. This was despite outnumbering their targets by four to one. It forced the
FBI to make significant upgrades to their agents’ standardissue weaponry, changing from revolvers to semi- automatic pistols. It was a move reminiscent of the FBI’s 1933 upgrade to Thompson sub- machine guns after the notorious Kansas City massacre. The special agents who died have since been honoured by the FBI, and by Pinecrest village, which named a portion of Southwest 82nd Avenue after Grogan and Dove.
ABOVE FBI Director James Comey honours Special Agents Grogan and Dove on the 30th anniversary of the shootout, in 2016