STOCKTON, Calif. — Stockton police said a second suspect has died after a bank robbery and gunbattle that led to the death of a hostage.
Stockton police said in all, three people are dead in Wednesday's violence, which included a high-speed chase that left cars and houses riddled with bullets shot from an "AK-47 style rifle."
The violence began when three people robbed a Bank of the West branch in north Stockton and took three women hostage — a bank customer and two bank employees. Police said the robbers stole a bank employee's blue Ford Expedition and led dozens of police cars on a high-speed chase that lasted about 45 minutes.
During the chase, two hostages — both bank employees — were thrown or jumped from the vehicle: one suffered a gunshot wound and the other had a grazing bullet wound. Both are at the hospital to get treatment for their injuries and are expected to survive.
As the SUV came to a stop around 3:20 p.m., officers exchanged gunfire with someone inside the vehicle. All three suspects were wounded in the gunbattle.
The third hostage — the bank customer — was found dead inside of the SUV due to gunfire, Stockton police said. Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said she was used as a human shield during the firefight, but it is unclear who shot her.
A suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The second suspect was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. A third suspect is still in the hospital to get treatment for his wounds and is expected to survive.
No officers were injured during the incident.
"In my 18 year of law enforcement, I've never seen anything like this in the city of Stockton," said Stockton Police Officer Joe Silva, adding that no officers were injured.
Witnesses said the shootout that brought the episode to a close looked like a war.
"It sounded like five minutes of straight gunfire," witness Sam York told KCRA-TV. "It seemed like it wasn't real."
Jose Maldonado, who said he saw the robbers taking the women out of the bank, said the men had rifles that looked like AK-47s slung over their shoulders and they didn't seem to care that there were police all around.
"They were not afraid. They weren't going to take no for an answer. These poor women, they were screaming, they were so distraught, so scared," Maldonado said.
Contributing: Associated Press