SAN DIEGO — A young San Diego woman was in jail Thursday for allegedly taking part in a two-city spree of armed holdups and attempted murders along with an ex-firefighter who was shot dead two days later in a Halloween-night gun battle with police in Barrio Logan.
Cindy Altamirano Garcia, who turned 18 three weeks ago, was arrested at the scene of the shootout that killed her alleged accomplice, 40-year-old Philip Martin Hernandez, according to San Diego police.
Officers investigating Monday’s armed robbery and firearm assault series were following a white van occupied by the suspects shortly after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the driver pulled over on Harbor Drive, near Cesar Chavez Parkway, SDPD Capt. Terry McManus said.
Hernandez jumped out of the vehicle and allegedly began shooting at the patrol personnel with a rifle, prompting them to return fire. Struck by at least one round, the suspect turned, walked in front of the van, collapsed and died. Garcia then got out of a passenger-side door and was arrested.
Both suspects were wearing law enforcement-style vests at the time of the shootout, according to McManus. Similarly, during the spate of armed holdups and shootings two days earlier, the perpetrators wore garments with law enforcement insignias and the word “police” emblazoned on them.
During one of the robberies, off-duty San Diego police Officer Les Stewart, 57, was shot from behind at a walk-up ATM in Escondido. He was hospitalized with a graze wound to his scalp and was expected to fully recover.
The daylong criminal rampage began about 2 a.m. Monday, when Hernandez, a former Riverside County firefighter, apparently riddled his own truck with bullets near Mission Bay for unknown reasons, then set it ablaze, according to police.