Three heavily armed bank robbers took three women hostage in California Wednesday afternoon. The gun battle with police that followed left one hostage and two suspects dead.
You can easily hear gunfire as witnesses took video of the police chase racing through Stockton. During that hourlong chase, KGO-TV reports suspects fired out the back of the vehicle they were in.
Stockton's Police Department posted a detailed account of the robbery and chase to its Facebook page along with a picture of one of the AK-47s investigators say the suspects used.
Officers say a security guard at a Stockton Bank of the West managed to call the robbery in before the suspects tied him up. Police say the suspects then took two bank employees and a customer hostage and jumped into an SUV belonging to an employee.
JOSE MALDONADO, WITNESS: "Had three guns and three hostages, and they had the guns to the hostages' heads, and they were petrified."
KPIX REPORTER: "You could see their faces?"
MALDONADO: "Oh, their faces were just white. They were just so scared."
During the chase, Stockton police say two of the women left the SUV. While both of them were shot, investigators say it isn't clear whether they jumped or were pushed out by suspects. (Via KNTV)
Police say the suspects used the third hostage, Misty Holt-Singh, as a shield once the SUV came to a stop and police and suspects opened fire on each other for the last time. Holt-Singh was a mother of two. (Via KGO-TV)
A cousin spoke to reporters on scene.
DEVIN J., COUSIN OF VICTIM: "Innocent bystander going to pull out money. She left her kid in the car, she goes inside, whatever happened happened, her daughter has to text her husband saying, 'Hey, they took Mom.'" (Via KTVU)
The fallout of the shooting included several witnesses questioning whether the police chase was the safest tactic officers could've chosen.
Gunfire peppered the SUV in a chase that covered several miles, hit businesses and homes along the chase route, and police say 14 patrol cars took fire. The Stockton police chief also said he was surprised more people weren't hurt. (Via KNTV)
Nonprofit PursuitSAFETY advocates police chases only of "violent felony offenders when there is no other way to apprehend the suspect(s)." Many police departments have policies to call off a chase if supervisors believe the public is at risk.
While the department didn't comment on that issue, officers were dealing with an active hostage situation and say the three suspects constantly fired on them. Police also say the suspects might be connected to other robberies in the area. One of the suspects survived gunshot wounds he suffered.