Police were investigating whether the same men who robbed a bank, took hostages, and led a deadly chase and shootout carried out other recent bank heists in the same part of Northern California, including one earlier this year at the very same branch. There were striking similarities between a late-January robbery at the Bank of the West and the one this week that left a hostage and two robbers dead, police said. In both cases, armed robbers made their getaway by stealing a bank employee's car. "Investigators have been looking at that January case really hard," a police rep said, though no one was injured or taken hostage in the earlier robbery.
Police are searching for the driver of a dark-colored Buick sedan seen on video dropping off the suspects before the Wednesday robbery. The car was found with no license plates abandoned in a neighborhood about 10 minutes from the bank. Police said the driver dropped off three men, armed with three handguns and an AK-47, at a Bank of the West in Stockton. The hour-long pursuit and shootout ended with two of the three robbers killed in a dramatic gunfight with hundreds of bullets fired. The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Jaime Ramos, was arrested after using a hostage, bank customer Misty Holt-Singh, as a human shield. "She stopped at the bank to get some cash to get a haircut," said a family friend. "She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time." Ramos could face at least 33 charges, including murder counts that make him eligible for a death sentence. Due in a Stockton courtroom tomorrow for the first time in this case, Ramos is being held without bail. (Read more robbery stories.)