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October 23, 2014

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2 killed in robbery of California marijuana grow

Updated Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 | 10:10 p.m.

FRESNO, Calif. — The robbery of a Central California house with a marijuana-growing operation triggered a fierce gunbattle in which two suspects were killed and a 15-year-old girl was used as a human shield by fleeing robbers, authorities said Thursday.

Two suspects were arrested and three remained at large after the pre-dawn violence south of Fresno, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

"We have several children who were terrorized in their own home," Mims said. "The teenage girl was used as a human shield as the suspects were leaving the residence, and they kidnapped her, putting her in the car."

Seven armed men posed as law enforcement officers and forced their way into the house around 4 a.m., she said. During the home invasion, a man in the house was pistol-whipped and the robbers and victims exchanged gunfire.

Deputies who responded to calls of the robbery saw two cars speed away. They were only able to stop one of the vehicles when it pulled up to a hospital with a wounded man in a ski mask. The deputies gave him CPR, but he died a short time later inside the hospital, Mims said.

Two other men in the vehicle were taken into custody.

Suspects in the other car took the girl hostage and took her a dangerous ride topping 100 mph before dropping her off unharmed near downtown Fresno. Investigators found several shotguns and handguns tossed out of the getaway vehicles, Mims said.

Another robber found near the house later died of gunshot wounds.

The house had three marijuana plots and 150 plants, Mims said.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the homeowner had medical-marijuana permits.

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