Robbers fleeing a California bank took three women hostage and led police on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph, ending when three people were shot dead, including one of the hostages, authorities said.
During the 45 minute chase, two of the hostages were tossed out of the moving car, authorities said.
The violence erupted in Stockton, a city in the northern part of the state. Authorities say three robbers at Bank of the West made off with money and the three female hostages.
One of the hostages, identified by family and friends as Misty Holt-Singh, was dragged away by the robbers as her 12-year-old daughter watched in horror.
“She was just going to pull out money, she left her kid in the car,” her cousin, identified as Devin J., said. The daughter texted her father, saying, “They took Mom,” Devin J. said.
Police say the suspects stole a bank employee’s SUV and fired AK-47-type assault weapons at pursuing police. At least 14 cars and many homes were struck by stray bullets, Police Chief Eric Jones told a news conference late Wednesday.
“It was such a chaotic … fluid situation, really one of the most dangerous, tense situations that a police officer could go through,” Jones said.
When the SUV’s tires were shot and the vehicle came to a stop at an intersection, officers exchanged gunfire with at least one of the assailants.
“The firing never stopped,” Jones said, noting that the suspects had ammunition strapped to their bodies. “They were trying to kill (the officers), no doubt.”
The chase ended in a bloody shootout that left the SUV riddled with bullet holes. All of the alleged bank robbers were shot, two of them dead.
The surviving suspect was identified by police as Jaime Ramos, 19. He was charged with homicide, kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder charges. Police did not identify the two dead suspects, but said they were 30 and 27 and were “documented gang members.”
Police said they recovered at least three handguns and an assault rifle.
One hostage, identified by her family as Holt-Singh, also died in the car, with police saying she appears to have been used by the suspects as a human shield during the shootout.
The women who were thrown from the car both has bullet wounds and are hospitalized, police said.
Family and friends mourned Holt-Singh’s death, writing reflections on her Facebook page.
“My mind can’t stop thinking about you and my heart can’t stop aching for your family,” one of her friends wrote.
“Although your life was cut short your legacy lives on in your beautiful children and memories you left with all of us in one way or another.”