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October 31, 2014

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Chief: Police, not suspects killed California robbery hostage

Image

Singh Family / AP

This undated file photo released by the Singh family shows Misty Holt Singh, who was taken hostage and killed in Stockton, Calif., on July 16, 2014, following a bank robbery and gun battle with police.

STOCKTON, Calif. — The hostage who died during a bank robbery and chase in Northern California was killed by police, not the suspects, authorities said Monday.

The results of a preliminary ballistics report show that Stockton police fired the bullet or bullets that killed 41-year-old Misty Holt-Singh, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said.

Holt-Singh was found dead at the end of last month's bank robbery and chase, which included a running gunbattle between the three suspects and police before a final shootout.

Police have said the sole surviving suspect, 19-year-old Jaime Ramos, used Holt-Singh as a human shield, but they could not immediately tell whether she died from police gunfire or shots fired by the suspects.

They also did not know when she was killed.

Holt-Singh was among three women the suspects took hostage during the July 16 bank robbery. Holt-Singh was a customer whose 12-year-old daughter was waiting outside in the car. The other two women were bank employees.

A police pursuit and shootout followed when the robbers armed with three handguns and an AK-47 fled with the hostages in an SUV owned by one of the employees. The two bank employees survived the ordeal by either jumping or getting thrown from the SUV as it sped through town during the hourlong chase. Several patrol cars and up to a dozen homes were struck by gunfire as police and the suspects exchanged fire.

Two of the suspects, identified by police as Alex Gregory Martinez, 27, and Gilbert Renteria Jr., 30, and Holt-Singh were found dead at the end of a final gunbattle. Jaime Ramos has been charged with murder.

Investigators say they have linked Martinez to a robbery on Jan. 31 at the same bank branch through surveillance video, witness statements and comparable circumstances.

Police also say they have recovered a dark Buick sedan seen on video dropping off the suspects at the bank. The car had no license plates and had been abandoned in a neighborhood about a 10-minute drive from the bank. Police have been trying to identify the driver.

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