Robbery-assault suspect killed in police shootout; Teenage ‘companion’ jailed

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A young San Diego woman was behind bars 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 gunbattle 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.

No one but Hernandez was wounded in the volley of gunfire, though
several of the suspect's shots hit police vehicles, McManus said.

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

The next episode in the crime spree occurred roughly a half-hour later,
when a man was critically wounded by gunfire on Upas Street in Hillcrest. The
victim's condition was so grave that homicide detectives took over the
investigation. The motive for the shooting was unknown, McManus said.

About 9 a.m., Hernandez allegedly confronted a man who was unloading
some items from the trunk of his car in a parking lot in the 8900 block of Rio
San Diego Drive in Mission Valley, pulled a silver pistol on him and stole his
wallet. The thief then fled to the west in a full-sized white sedan.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., Hernandez allegedly robbed Stewart, a 27-year
veteran of the San Diego Police Department, at a credit-union ATM in the 1600
block of South Escondido Boulevard. After stealing the patrolman's wallet and
cell phone, the bandit shot him, then fled in a white car.

About an hour later, Hernandez and Garcia approached a man in a parking
lot at a shopping center on College Grove Way in the Oak Park district of San
Diego, police said.

Hernandez allegedly pointed a silver handgun at the man and demanded
that he hand over the keys to his black 2006 Suzuki Aerio hatchback. The victim
complied, and the thieves fled in the stolen vehicle.

Around the same time, several 911 callers reported that a white Ford
Crown Victoria was ablaze — apparently torched by the robbers — in the lot
where the carjacking had taken place.

The stolen vehicle was found in the 100 block of Jefferson Avenue in
Chula Vista shortly after 7 p.m., according to police. It also had been set on

With the help of witnesses, investigators identified Garcia and
Hernandez as the alleged perpetrators of the violent crimes on Wednesday
evening and determined that they likely were traveling in a white van, McManus
told news crews.

Later in the night, officers spotted the cargo vehicle heading eastbound
in the 1400 block of National Avenue in the East Village area of downtown San
Diego, called for backup and began tailing it.

Near the Coronado Bridge, Hernandez pulled over. The patrol personnel
stopped a number of car lengths away for safety purposes and came under fire
“immediately” from what appeared to be a high-powered rifle, the captain
said. Three of the officers shot back at the assailant.

In addition to the long-barreled gun, investigators documenting the
scene of the shootout recovered a pistol that Hernandez apparently had been

Garcia was booked into Las Colinas women's jail in Santee on suspicion
of carjacking and will likely face additional charges, according to police. She
was being held on $75,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday

The two suspects had been “companions” for some time and had lived
together, McManus said. He said the exact nature of their relationship remained

The motivation for the violent crimes also was murky, the captain told
reporters during an afternoon news conference outside downtown SDPD

“It's difficult to answer at this point what set this off,” he said,
adding that Hernandez “clearly … was in some sort of crisis.”

The wounded officer remained hospitalized in stable condition this
afternoon. The victim of the Hillcrest shooting was still in critical condition
in a trauma center. His identity has not been released.

Categories: KUSI