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LAPD/SLA Shootout Leaves Six Dead!

By Patrick Mondout

On May 17, 1974, Los Angeles police department officers and SWAT team members surrounded the safehouse where suspected Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) members were hiding. The resulting televised shootout and fire left six SLA members dead (Nancy Ling Perry, Angela Atwood, Willie Wolfe, Donald DeFreeze, Patricia Soltysik, and Camilla Hall).

As the drama unfolded on nationwide TV, an estimated 10,000 people crowded the streets around the neighborhood and hundreds of cops were brought in as much for crowd control. Members of the SLA assumed the many in Compton would rise up in revolution but it never happened.

After the house was set ablaze with gas canisters by police, Nancy Ling Perry and Camilla Hall ran outside firing their guns and were shot dead. The other four SLA members died inside of the house either from gunshot wounds (self-inflicted, in Donald DeFreeze's case) or smoke inhalation (despite having gas masks).

Three other SLA members, Patty Hearst plus Bill & Emily Harris, watch the events unfold on TV in their L.A. hotel room - a day after Patty fired a shotgun at the front of a sporting goods store. They retreated to the Bay area. When the house burned, no one had any idea where Patty Hearst was. It was not until the medical examiner identified the six bodies the next day that the FBI knew she was still on the run.

The SLA - a small, domestic terrorist organization - had kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in February and had committed a deadly bank robbery a month earlier. You can read much more about the shootout and the Symbionese Liberation Army on our SLA page.




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Smoke from gunfire coming from just inside the house is seen as a SWAT team member (lower right) prepares to return fire.


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