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Three dead in California bank robbery shootout, high-speed chase

"We obviously hoped for a peaceful resolution, but these assailants wanted no part of a peaceful resolution," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

By Brooks Hays

STOCKTON, Calif., July 17 (UPI) -- A shootout and high-speed chase through three cities -- after an attempted bank robbery in Stockton, California -- ended with two suspected thieves and a hostage dead.

The bullet-filled, hour-long chase, which briefly forayed into surrounding municipalities, began with the robbery of a Bank of the West branch early Wednesday afternoon. Three armed suspects escaped out the back of the bank with three female hostages. They fled in the SUV of one of the hostages.

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Police pursued, and gunfire quickly erupted.

"During my 18 years as a law enforcement officer, this is the first time that I've seen this here in the city of Stockton," said Joe Silva, spokesperson for the Stockton Police Department. "So right now, we're interviewing the bank employees, and we're going to debrief the hostages once they're OK. We can talk to them to see exactly what transpired inside the bank."

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Two of the female subjects either jumped or were thrown from the moving vehicle. Both were grazed by bullets but are expected to survive. Cars and houses were sprayed with stray bullets throughout the chase.

The chase ended fatally -- a firefight crescendoing after the tires of the getaway vehicle were shot out by police. The third hostage was killed in the crossfire; police said it appeared she may have been used as a shield.

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Two of the suspected robbers were also shot and killed by police, while a third was taken to a hospital where he is expected to recover.

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"We obviously hoped for a peaceful resolution, but these assailants wanted no part of a peaceful resolution," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones. "There was a lot on the line and officers responded appropriately."

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