FRESNO (AP) – While police in the Northern California city of Stockton searched Saturday for an accomplice in a bank robbery that led to a police chase and deadly shootout, investigators said they suspect the same men carried out other area bank heists, including one at the same branch hit this week.
Officer Joe Silva of the Stockton Police Department said there are striking similarities between a late-January robbery at the Bank of the West and one Wednesday that left a hostage and two robbers dead. In both cases, Silva said, armed robbers made their get-away by stealing a bank employee’s car.
“Investigators have been looking at that January case really hard,” Silva said.
In Wednesday afternoon’s robbery, police say that three men, one armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, were dropped off at a Bank of the West branch, where they took three women as hostages, including a customer and two employees.
Fleeing in a bank employees’ SUV, the hour-long pursuit ended with two of the three robbers killed. The surviving suspect was arrested after using a hostage as a human shield during a gunfight with police.
The woman killed has been identified as bank customer Misty Holt-Singh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of two.
Police have recovered a dark-colored Buick sedan seen on video dropping off the suspects. The car had no license plates and was found abandoned in a neighborhood about a 10-minute drive from the bank. The driver is the subject of an ongoing search, Silva said.
San Joaquin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Ronald Freitas said that the surviving suspect, 19-year-old Jaime Ramos, could face up to 33 charges, including three murder charges that make him eligible for a death sentence. He is being held without bail, and it’s not clear if he has an attorney yet.
Investigators did follow-up interviews with the two survivors Friday, said Freitas, whose office plans to file charges Monday, the day of Ramos’ arraignment.
“We’ll be learning a lot more about what happened in the bank and then what happened during the chase,” Freitas said. “Literally, information is still coming in as we speak.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.