Stockton bank robbery witness: Suspect said 'don't be a hero'

STOCKTON, Calif. - A Stockton man who was in a Bank of the West when it was robbed three weeks ago, setting up a deadly gun battle, offers an inside look at how the robbery unfolded.

The man isn't revealing his last name but Mike said he was leaving the bank as the robbers arrived.

"The youngest stepped in front of the guard and put a gun under my chin and said, 'we're robbing the bank, don't be a hero, the money isn't yours,'" Mike said, who was pushed back into the bank by the suspects.

"They pushed us over, laid face down, they said 'don't look, look away, look into the carpet,'" he said.

Mike recalled there was a great deal of confusion in the bank when the robbers demanded a key to unlock secure areas. Employees weren't certain which of them had the key the robbers were demanding.

Eventually, with the money in hand, Mike said the robbers were leaving, but were surprised to see Stockton police officers in the parking lot waiting for them.

"They get outside, and we hear, 'drop your weapons, get down, get down!' The cops were already on the scene." Mike said that was when the robbers grabbed hostages to make their escape in an employee's car.

"They forced the three gals back out the front door of the bank, using them as shields."

The suspects took the hostages, including customer Misty Holt-Singh who would die in a shootout between suspects and police that came about an hour later. Two of the suspects were also killed.

Mike said he was told the bank manager was forced to drive the getaway car and was shot shortly after the escape began.

"He [suspect in the front seat ] was nervous and his gun went off accidentally and shot her. She said she felt a burning in her right leg. When the car slowed down, the robber says 'step on the gas', and she says, 'I can't. You shot me in the leg'. He opened the door and pushed her out."

Mike said he's speaking out and is likely to file a lawsuit against the bank because that branch has a long history of robberies. The July incident was the sixth since 2012. He said he's considering legal action both for the trauma he's suffered and to make the bank more secure.

"When penalties are imposed, banks understand that," Mike said.

Bank of the West officials declined to comment on the bank's history of robberies, or if any security changes were made as a result.


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