Police: California bank robber linked to 2 heists

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm •  Published: July 20, 2014

FRESNO, California (AP) — Police in Stockton, California, confirmed Sunday that a bank robber killed in a recent police shootout and hostage situation was among those suspected in an earlier heist at the same bank branch.

Alex Gregory Martinez, a 27-year-old who died Wednesday in a shootout that also killed a bank customer taken hostage, had been among those who robbed the Bank of the West on Jan. 31, Officer Joe Silva said.

Detectives linked Martinez to the two robberies through surveillance video, witness statements and comparing circumstances, Silva said. In both cases, the robbers were dropped off and made their getaway by stealing a bank employee's car, he said.

"Ever since the deadly bank robbery, investigators have been working around the clock," said Silva, adding that the police continue their search for the driver who took the robbers to the bank.

Police on Saturday recovered a dark-colored Buick sedan seen on video dropping off the robbers before the Wednesday robbery. The car was found with no license plates abandoned in a neighborhood about a 10-minute drive 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. They took three women as hostages, including a customer and two employees, police said.

They fled in a bank employee's SUV, forcing her to drive, before shooting her and pushing her from the vehicle, Silva said. A second employee was later thrown or jumped from the SUV at 50 mph amid an hour-long pursuit and running gun battle with police, he said. Both women survived.

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