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Misty Holt-Singh, who was taken hostage during a July 16, 2014, bank robbery in Stockton, Calif., was killed by police gunfire during a shootout with three gunmen. Two suspects also were slain. / Singh family via AP

A Northern California mother taken hostage by bank robbers last month was killed by police gunfire during a high-speed chase and shootout with three suspects armed with a semiautomatic rifle, Stockton police said Monday.

Misty Holt-Singh, 41, was struck about 10 times by police bullets, according to a preliminary ballistics report. She was one of three women taken hostage by the gunmen during a holdup of a Bank of the West branch on July 16.

Two suspects were also found dead with her after a final, furious gunbattle with police. The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Jaime Ramos, of Stockton, has been charged with murder and kidnapping. He was not wounded.

The other two hostages managed to escape during the chase; one suffered an unspecified gunshot wound.

Stockton police Chief Eric Jones said at a news conference that Holt-Sigh's wounds "show the cowardice" of Ramos, who reportedly used her as a human shield. He provided no details about the exact number or location of her wounds, the caliber of the bullets or whether the fatal shots were fired by one or more officers.

Jones said after the shootout that 20 officers who had fired their weapons were placed on administrative leave, standard policy during such an investigation.

The chief defended the officers' actions, saying the suspects had fired on them with a semiautomatic rifle and that they had no choice but to return fire. Hundreds of bulletholes were found in 14 police vehicles, citizens' cars, homes and businesses along the route of the hour-long chase through Stockton and neighboring communities about 80 miles east of San Francisco.

In a statement, the Singh family said it was "saddened to receive the ballistic information" about her death.

"The manner in which Misty's life was taken raises serious questions and concerns," said the statement, released by attorney Gregory Bentley. "The family is hopeful, however, that the promised information, policies and procedures concerning the events of July 16 will be provided so that a fair, complete, and transparent investigation can take place."

Bentley said he had requested information from the Stockton Police Department, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol, which responded to the robbery and pursuit.

The three suspects,wearing hooded sweatshirts and sunglasses, entered the bank with their guns drawn, authorities said. After tying up a security guard, they took an undisclosed amount of cash from the vault and then grabbed two bank employees and Holt-Singh on their way out. They fled in a Ford Expedition stolen from a bank worker.

Holt-Singh, a treatment coordinator for a dentist, had left her 12-year-old daughter in the car while she made a quick transaction in the bank.

"It is very rare for bank robbers to take hostages," Jones said the day after. "It is very rare for them to so heavily arm themselves and prepare to kill and then to actively and continually to try to kill our police officers."

The assault rifle, one of three weapons recovered, has been linked to several other crimes, Jones said.

One of the dead suspects, Alex Gregory Martinez, 27, of Stockton, was linked to a January robbery of the same bank, police said. He, Ramos and the other suspect who died, 30-year-old Gilbert Renteria Jr., were known gang members.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Gunfire from cops, not bank robbers, killed hostage

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