- John S. Pistole
- Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Miami Shootout 20th Anniversary Memorial Service
- Miami, Florida
- April 11, 2006
Good morning, and thank you, Jon, for that kind introduction. I am honored to join you for this memorial service.
On behalf of Director Mueller and the entire FBI, I want to thank all of you for being here today. While 20 years have passed, clearly the memory of this event and its impact on your communities, agencies, and the FBI remains strong.
I also want to join Jon in acknowledging those here who participated in what we now call the Miami Shootout—John Hanlon, Ed Mireles, and Gilbert Orrantia. I want to welcome Nancy Risner, the wife of Ron Risner as well.
Twenty years ago today, those four special agents, along with their colleagues, Richard Manauzzi, Jerry Dove, Ben Grogan, and Gordon McNeill, engaged in one of the most intense gun battles in the 98-year history of the FBI. In the end, two agents—Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan—were dead, five others were wounded, and two suspects were also killed.
The story of April 11, 1986, though, is not one just of tragedy—it is one of triumph and transformation as well. Those few minutes on that Friday morning have an impact on us to this day.
Now, it is important to remember that the shootout occurred in part because this team of special agents, led by Gordon McNeill, the supervisor, and Ben Grogan, the case agent, were very good at their jobs. They had developed critical information on two suspects in several bank robberies, shootings, and murders. They knew what car they were looking for and they knew when and in what area the suspects were most likely to strike. They were doing 20 years ago what we call intelligence and predictive analysis.
It was not an accident that our agents and the suspects encountered each other that day.
When they did collide, the professionalism and bravery of the agents was especially notable. They initiated the felony car stop that precipitated the gun battle in an area where the risk of harm to innocent civilians was lower. In the face of superior firepower, they stood together and defended each other.
After about five minutes and with more than 130 rounds fired between the two sides, it was Special Agent Mireles who, despite being severely wounded, ended the shootout as the suspects attempted to escape in an FBI car. For his actions, Ed Mireles was awarded the first ever FBI Medal of Valor.
Though the two suspects had been killed, we suffered our own devastating losses.
Then-FBI Director William Webster said it well about agents Dove and Grogan when he said that they "gave the last full measure of devotion." Dove, the Bureau rookie who long dreamed of working at the FBI, and Grogan, the 23-year veteran, died doing what they had been called to do—protecting the security of their fellow citizens.
There is no doubt that saving lives is what Dove and Grogan—and their colleagues—did that day. The suspects were responsible for as many as five previous murders, more shootings, and numerous robberies. They were an ominous threat to the community, and they were taken off the streets for good.
What also undoubtedly saved future lives were the lessons learned that day—lessons that transformed law enforcement tactics and training. Most immediately, special agents were issued semi-automatic handguns to replace the revolvers that many of the agents carried that day. Training for law enforcement officers also improved, as more realistic scenarios for firearms training were developed and the psychological effects of getting shot at were studied. We all owe a debt of gratitude to agents Mireles and McNeill for the work they have done in these areas.
April 11 remains truly a day of significance for the FBI and for law enforcement. And it remains a powerful reminder of the dangers we face, and of our capacity to do the extraordinary under the most extreme circumstances. Its impact, particularly on training and tactics for similar situations continues to this day.
Most of all, its outcome is a tribute to eight men who did their job and never wavered from their duty. As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Miami Shootout, we remember those we lost that day, those who have passed on since, and thank all of them for their remarkable service to this community, the FBI, and the nation.