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SLA Shootout May 17, 1974 | by Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society
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SLA Shootout May 17, 1974

Three months after the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, a militant group called the Symbionese Liberation Army engaged the LAPD at 1466 E. 54th street in a gun battle lasting almost 2 hours.


Well into the battle, a fire started in the house. Possibly from a tear gas canister. LAFD fire companies under the command of Assistant Chief Willis R. Nelson stood by during the shootout and eventually extinguished the blaze. All six of the SLA members who were in the house were killed including leader Donald DeFreeze. Patty Hearst was not in the house. She was hiding out in a motel room with two other SLA members by Disneyland in Anaheim. LAFD resources that responded to the incident were Division 2, Battalion 8, Task Forces 10, and 26, Engines 21, and 22, and Rescues 14,15,22,34,266,289,and 295.


This was one of the largest police shootouts in our nation's history. LAPD had fired close to five thousand rounds, and the SLA fired approximately four thousand.


This event was televised live to millions of viewers across the country. KNXT Channel 2 Los Angeles was using one of the first live broadcast handheld "minicams" to report the incident in real time.

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Taken on August 20, 2011