Local patrol officers at the time were typically armed with 9 mm or .38 Special pistols on their person, with some having a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Matasareanu carried fully automatic rifles, with ammunition capable of penetrating police body armor, and wore military grade body armor of their own. Since the police handguns could not penetrate the bank robbers' body armor, the patrol officers' efforts were ineffective. SWAT eventually arrived with weapons that could penetrate and several officers also appropriated AR-15 rifles from a nearby firearms dealer. The incident sparked debate on the appropriate firepower for patrol officers to have available in similar situations in the future.
February 28, 1997