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Meese Visits Wounded Agents, Says They Did “Excellent Job″

April 14, 1986

MIAMI (AP) _ FBI agents could not have anticipated that two suspects they stopped would open fire, killing two agents and wounding five others before the suspects were killed themselves, said U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.

″It’s just too bad that these two people were such vicious killers that they were able to kill two very good agents,″ said Meese, who flew here Sunday to visit three hospitalized FBI men.″This was simply a surveillance situation, and the severity of the situation was not something that could be anticipated.″

FBI Director William Webster visited the agents today and said they were doing fine.

″Their morale was high,″ he said. ″Of course, they’re grieving for their teammates. I told them we’re very proud of them for the lives they unquestionably saved.″

FBI Director William Webster planned to visit the agents today, hospital officials said.

The condition of agents Gordon McNeill, 43, and John Hanlon, 48, improved from serious but stable to good Sunday, said Baptist Hospital spokeswoman Anne Streeter.

Agent Ed Mireles, who was wounded in Friday’s bloody gunbattle but managed to shoot and kill both suspects as they were trying to flee, was listed in fair condition at South Miami hospital.

Special agents Benjamin P. Grogan, 53, and Gerald Dove, 30, were killed in the shootout the left the FBI with the most casualties in the agency’s 79-year history. Two other agents suffered minor injuries.

″I just told them how grateful we were for their actions,″ Meese said after visiting with McNeill and Hanlon. ″I do know that this was an excellent job of locating two very dangerous bank robbers.″

Meanwhile Sunday, a congregation packed a church, struggling to understand how one of their own, 34-year-old William Matix, could be the dangerous bank robber trapped and killed by FBI agents.

″We took him at face value. We thought William Matix was a man who needed help. We didn’t know then how much he needed help,″ said Dr. Emit Ray, minister of Riverside Baptist Church in the unincorporated, suburban community of Kendall.

Neither Matix nor 32-year-old Michael Platt, his best friend, had criminal records. Both were described by neighbors as hard-working family men who lived seemingly quiet lives.

But Matix and Platt were linked to at least a half-dozen bank and armored car robberies in Dade County during the last year, according to law enforcement officials.

Webester said investigations into the backgrounds of the two ″have not yet connected them to anyone else. Before we’re through, we going to know everything about them from the time they were born to the time they died.″

He described them as ″ruthless murderers,″ and defended the way the agents handled the situation.

″This was a very good surveillance effort. We had very little information about these men. The agents reponded quickly and acted in a way to best protect innocent lives.″

He said their actions were ″brave and commendable,″ and called Mireles ″a real hero.″

Asked about a lack of matching fire-power between his revolver-armed agents and the semi-automatic weapon that caused most of the FBI’s casualties, Webster said his agency ″had had no information that these guys had such high-powered weapons,″ and said that in robberies blamed on the two, they used shotguns.

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