A dramatic video has emerged recording the long gun battle between police and the Stockton bank robbery suspect, an exchange that left three dead.
The video shows police cars racing to where the suspects' vehicle was stopped. For part of the video, numerous gunshots can be heard. Police estimate hundreds of rounds were fired.
The robbers led police on a wild hour-long chase, holding hostages from the bank as human shields. Periodically, police say, the robbers would slow down at sharp curves, waiting for pursuing officers to come into view before opening fire with an AK-47 and other weapons.
The chase finally ended in a minute-long gun battle that left two of suspects and one hostage, Misty Holt Singh, dead. Police said third suspect survived uninjured because he used Singh as a shield against officers' bullets.
Singh had gone into the Bank of West branch in Stockton just as the robbery was occurring, leaving her 12-year-old daughter in the car outside.
“In my two decades in law enforcement, I have never seen or experienced this type of total disregard for human life nor the intensity of the situation,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said Thursday.
Hundreds of rounds were fired by the gunmen, with its least 20 officers firing back, some unloading multiple magazines. The gunmen had extra magazines taped and strapped to their body, police said, allowing them to maintain fire for more than an hour.
“The assailants were shooting the entire time.” Jones said.
The violence left the city reeling. Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and has suffered from serious crime problems, especially gang violence. Police said the suspects are members Nortenos, which officials described as one of the city’s most active and dangerous gangs. Stockton police spokesman Joe Silva said the gang is being investigated for several other recent bank robberies.
A memorial was placed at the Bank of the West branch. Near the front door were placed three bouquets of flowers, including a pot of roses. Next to the flowers an unsigned handwritten note said "Dear Misty, today you were so brave. You died in a haze of bullets on a lovely afternoon. We are so proud of you."
“You will be missed. It was a pleasure to know such a strong, lovely, fun, loving lady! Heaven has the pleasure now."
The violence left residents of the area, including Aundrea Castellon, shaken. Castellon is a customer of the bank who went there Thursday to use the ATM. She has lived in Stockton her whole life but said the robbery and gun battle were especially bad, even for a city with a crime problem. "It's scarier than what you usually hear about. I live right around the corner. I was in this bank two days ago. I have dealt with the tellers here."
"This is a lot more scary than what usually happens in Stockton," she added. "It seems like crime is getting a lot worse. How can people have the guts to come in here and take off with these innocent people and use them as a shield? I don't understand that."
Lydia Nichols, a beautician at a nearby salon, walks by the bank daily from her apartment a block away. "It's horrible. Crime is really bad. It's even scary to walk around the neighborhood" said Nichols who has lived in Stockton since 1982.
Martha Velazquez works at the Metro PCS store next to the bank. She was driving on Hammer Lane on Wednesday when the robbers went by, chased by police.
"It's shocking. This is like something out of a movie" Velazquez said. "It's never been this extreme."