Charges mount against California robbery suspect
STOCKTON, California (AP) — A 19-year-old man is expected to be charged Monday with triple-murder in the deaths of a woman taken hostage and two other robbery suspects who died amid a violent police shootout after a dramatic chase in broad daylight, prosecutors said.
Jaime Ramos, the only surviving suspect, could face a death sentence with the additional allegations that the three people were killed during kidnappings and robbery, Joaquin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Freitas said.
The list of charges may include another 22 counts of attempted murder of police officers involved in the pursuit and additional counts for a dozen homes struck by bullets. Freitas said police continued their investigation over the weekend while his office drafted the charges stemming from Wednesday’s bank robbery and hour-long running gun battle.
It is unclear if Ramos, the sole surviving suspect, had obtained a private attorney in advance of Monday’s arraignment, or if he would be assigned a public defender.
Police say that three men armed with handguns and an AK-47 entered the Bank of the West branch and took three women hostage, two bank employees and a customer. The robbers fled with the hostages in one of the employee’s sport utility vehicle.
Two women were injured but survived after being thrown from the moving vehicle or jumping out. Misty Holt-Singh, a 41-year-old mother of two, was used as a human shield and died. An autopsy may determine how Holt-Singh died.
The two slain bank robbers have been identified as 27-year-old Alex Gregory Martinez and 30-year-old Gilbert Renteria Jr.
On Sunday, Officer Joe Silva said investigators linked Martinez to a Jan. 31 robbery at the same bank branch, using surveillance video, witness statements and comparing the circumstances. In both cases, the robbers were dropped off and made their get-away by stealing a bank employee’s car, he said.
Silva added that the police continue their search for the driver who took the robbers to the bank.
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, police said.
Relatives have said they believe police acted appropriately by engaging the men in a gunbattle, but they struggle to understand what the men were thinking.
Holt-Singh, the slain hostage, left behind a husband and two children, ages 12 and 19.