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Police seek driver in deadly Stockton bank heist

By
From page A6 | July 20, 2014 |

FRESNO — While police in Stockton searched Saturday for an accomplice in a bank robbery that led to a police chase and deadly shootout, investigators said Saturday 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 the 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,” said Silva, adding that nobody was injured or taken hostage in the earlier robbery carried out by two or more men armed with handguns.

In Wednesday afternoon’s robbery, police say three men, armed with three handguns and an AK-47, were dropped off at a Bank of the West branch by an unknown driver, where they took three women as hostages, including a customer and two employees.

They fled in a bank employees’ SUV, Silva said, forcing her to drive, before shooting her and pushing her from the vehicle. A second employee was later thrown or jumped from the SUV at 50 mph, Silva said, amid an hour-long pursuit and running gunbattle with police. Both women survived.

Silvas said several patrol cars and up to a dozen homes were struck by gunfire.

The shootout ended with two of the three robbers killed in a dramatic gunbattle with hundreds of bullets fired. The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Jaime Ramos, was arrested after using a hostage, bank customer Misty Holt-Singh, as a human shield during a gunfight with police.

An autopsy may determine who shot Holt-Sing, a 41-year-old wife and mother of two. She had left her 12-year-old daughter in the car when she went into the bank.

“She stopped at the bank to get some cash to get a haircut,” said family friend and attorney Michael Platt. “She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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 active search, Silva said.

More than 40 Stockton police officers in the shootout were put on paid administrative leave, but Silva said they will start returning to work Sunday.

San Joaquin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Freitas said that Ramos, the surviving suspect could face at least 33 charges, including murder charges that make him eligible for a death sentence. Due in a Stockton courtroom Monday for the first time in this case, Ramos is being held without bail, and it’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Shortly after the incident, investigators interviewed the two surviving women and followed-up with them Friday, said Freitas, who declined to name them. One underwent surgery, he said, and the second was taken to a head trauma center for care.

“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.”

Relatives of the two slain bank robbers have said that they believe police acted appropriately by engaging their sons in a gunbattle. The two dead men are 27-year-old Alex Gregory Martinez and 30-year-old Gilbert Renteria Jr.

Renteria’s mother, Debra Renteria, said her family was grieving for Holt-Singh’s family and anyone traumatized by the shootout. She said her son was essentially a good person, who made a terrible decision that ended his life.

Martinez’s father, Gregory Jon Martinez, said he believed police used appropriate force, adding his condolences for the dead hostage. “We believe that given the circumstances the department behaved in a manner that was appropriate,” Gregory Jon Martinez said.

Holt-Sing’s husband, Paul, and the couple’s two children spoke publicly Friday about their wife and mother. Paul Singh called it a nightmare. “It’s something I would never want to happen to anybody,” he said.

The couple’s 12-year-old daughter, Mia, recalled how her mother was playful, always inserting herself in pictures and endlessly chewing on ice. A dedicated mother, Holt-Singh attended her daughter’s softball games and never forgot to bring orange juice.

“I love you, Mom,” Mia said before bursting into tears and turning to her father for comfort.

A candlelight vigil was planned in downtown Stockton on Saturday night for the Holt-Singh and the two survivors.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

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  • CD BrooksJuly 20, 2014 - 5:51 am

    Seek and destroy. Send the message.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • clancyJuly 20, 2014 - 9:19 am

    The next generations of these thugs are flooding in over our borders and Obama is now sending them into states and cities thruout our county and no one seems to be able to stop it

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Shanna WieserJuly 20, 2014 - 5:30 pm

    Obama does not have as much power as you are giving him?. Why are you such a victim of Obama's power? What do you intend to do about Obama's reckless behavior concerning our borders. Complain & blame is all I ever hear so I would like to hear an intelligent solution to your issues.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • clancyJuly 20, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    Shanna you are correct . I don't have the answers .maybe vote against the democratic party in all cases from now on . do you have any ideas?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • clancyJuly 20, 2014 - 7:46 pm

    I do think obamba could secure the border and send the illegals back if F he wanted to. Calling his cronies a dispursing them thought our country is what he wants . I sure don't see him inviting them up to meet shasha and malia cause he had enough money to never have to live where the illegals do

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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