Wounded Agent Heard Fellow Agent's Last Words
Apr. 23, 1986
MIAMI (AP) _ An agent wounded in a shootout on the bloodiest day in FBI history says he saw one fellow agent killed and heard another cry out, then thought of his family as bullets tore into his own hand and groin.
Special Agent John Hanlon, 48, released Tuesday from Baptist Hospital, said he was next to agents Benjamin Grogan and Gerald Dove, firing from behind a car, when he was hit.
Grogan and Dove were killed in the shootout with bank robbery suspects April 11 in a residential neighborhood.
''At first, ... I told (Grogan) I was shot, and then I heard him say, 'Oh my God.' I didn't feel him fall down,'' Hanlon said. ''But then Gerry Dove fell right next to me, with his head face down. He raised his head. His eyes were glazed... And the guy I think who shot me shot Gerry in the back of the head - executed him. ...
''I thought of my wife, I thought of my three kids.''
Wounded agent Gordon McNeill also spoke to reporters Tuesday as the agents made their first public statements since the shootout.
Agent Edmundo Mireles, 33, credited with killing both gunmen despite serious wounds himself, remained in good condition at South Miami Hospital. Two other agents were wounded but didn't require hospitalization.
Hanlon said one of the two suspects who led the agents on car chase off a busy highway ''looked like an old-time, grade B, spaghetti western bad man.''
''When I pulled around them and slammed into them on the side, we were parallel,'' Hanlon said, apparently speaking of William Matix, 34. ''I looked right at him. He just looked very, very determined. He wasn't scared. He was like a man on a mission.''
McNeil, who will remain at Baptist for a few more days' treatment of back and hand wounds, said he saw a suspect, apparently Matix, ready for a firefight and radioed a warning to other agents.
''We passed each other and I looked inside and I made the announcement at that point; I said, 'The passenger is crouched down on the passenger side; he's loading up a long-barreled weapon; this guy's getting ready to go; he's going to shoot it out.'''
The stolen car and half-a-dozen FBI cars came to a jumbled halt in the front yard. Shooting began almost immediately.
Matix, who sat in the passenger seat of a stolen car being driven by Michael Platt, fired a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle in the shootout, agents said. He is believed responsible for most of the casualties suffered by the FBI.
Hanlon said the gunfight could have been worse had the suspects managed to get back on busy, eight-lane South Dixie Highway, where they had been spotted by agents staking out several banks.
''The bottom line with Ben Grogan and Gerald Dove and the rest of us that were together was that we didn't want those men to get on South Dixie,'' he said.