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Afghan Refugee Thankful For Help From Police

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TURLOCK – Samir Shirzad fled Kabul the day before it fell to the Taliban.

The city was his home for the last four years where he lived with his sisters and parents. Prior to that they lived in a northern province of Afghanistan until it became unsafe.

As the Taliban began to occupy his home, Samir took the opportunity to flee while he could, with the promise of supporting his family from abroad.

“Inshallah,” Samir said, which means “God willing.”

Through an organization called International Rescue Committee, Samir was able to flee Kabul and come to the United States. Within a couple of days, he was in Turlock hoping to find work.

“Tomorrow I have an appointment with my caseworker to apply for everything I need to work.”

Samir worked as an interpreter in Afghanistan. His English is very good, so he was able to quickly find jobs in logistics and construction. Often times he worked between US Military and their Afghan counterparts translating through various projects. Both of his parents are teachers. His father taught for 20 years, and his mother teaches at a local college.

With the Taliban takeover, some essential services have been cut off. Since he fled Kabul, Taliban fighters had gone to his father’s house looking for him, Samir said. His father told them Samir was dead and to leave the family alone.

“They only have about a week supply of food left,” Samir said. His need to find work is urgent to him.

“It is my wish to work. I would like to be a guard, or a driver, anything.”

Monday, Samir found himself at Donnelly Park enjoying the afternoon. He was approached by a man who had asked to borrow his cell phone to make a phone call. Samir agreed, but the man took the phone and ran.

Samir was able to call for help, and police responded within a few minutes. At around the same time, officers were investigating a report of a stolen vehicle that was taken from a cafe on Geer Road. The suspect who took Samir’s phone was sitting in the stolen vehicle.

The suspect fled as officers approached, but he was quickly apprehended. An ambulance was called for the man as he showed indications of being under the influence of a substance.

“He was acting very strangely,” Samir said. “He moved and waved his arms like something was wrong.”

Police were able to return the owner of the car to his stolen vehicle. Samir was very pleased with the response of the officers.

“In my country, maybe I would have seen my phone in ten days. Here, in ten minutes.”

Carlos Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist specializing in public safety and natural disasters. His passion for local news stems from a deep commitment to his community, with a selfless mission to inform the citizens of the valley. As he worked on assignment for 19 days at the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he spent most of his time helping survivors contact their loved ones to let them know they were ok. Carlos is a veteran of Univision, FOX, and Telemundo TV stations and a native of Modesto, California.

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Brush Fire Blows Smoke Into Valley

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MODESTO – Hazy smoke from a Livermore area fire blew into the valley Thursday afternoon.

The incident called the “Tesla Fire” was last reported to be about 250 acres with potential for growth by about 7:00pm.

The fire was spotted shortly before 6:00pm near Tesla Road, west of Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area. Aircraft assigned to the incident reported critical rate of spread reaching 100 acres in a short period of time, with potential to reach at least 500 acres.

Fire crews work to direct the blaze to a riverbed, requesting several tankers and helicopters to assist.

Winds were reported in the Modesto area at about 15mph. Those with sensitivity and health issues should remain indoors.

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Modesto Homicide Victim Identified

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MODESTO – Authorities identified the victim of Tuesday night’s fatal shooting on Ramsey Drive as 29 year old Michelle Rose Gonzales.

Shortly before 9:30pm officers with the Modesto Police Department responded to the 500 block of Ramsey Drive after receiving a call from a child saying their mother had been shot. Arriving officers located the victim in front of her home suffering from gunshot wounds. Life saving efforts were performed, but she died from her injuries.

Detectives responded to continue the investigation and quickly identified the suspect. Authorities discovered he was also a potential suspect in a homicide just a couple hours earlier in San Jose.

Meanwhile, officers with California Highway Patrol located the suspect traveling into the Bay Area and engaged in a pursuit. The pursuit traveled north along Highway 101 and into South San Jose, where the suspect fled on foot and barricaded himself in a shed behind a home near the 100 block of Bendorf Drive. An hours long standoff took place that ended in an officer involved shooting. The suspect was struck by gunfire and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The suspect’s identity is yet to be released by officials.

In a GoFundMe account established for Michelle and her children, she was described as a mother of two and a young, beautiful soul who was the victim of a senseless act of domestic violence.

Anyone interested in donating to the fundraiser can do so by CLICKING HERE.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Detective Ra Pouv at (209) 572-9826, or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Modesto Homicide Suspect Involved in Another Killing, Officer Involved Shooting in San Jose

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SAN JOSE – The suspect involved in Tuesday night’s homicide on Ramsey Drive in Modesto was taken to a hospital following a pursuit and officer involved shooting Wednesday morning.

The Ramsey Drive homicide happened shortly before 9:30pm. Police responded to a report of a person shot and located a 29 year old woman who was injured in the shooting. Emergency personnel attempted life saving measures but the victim died from her injuries.

Later in the night, officers with California Highway Patrol engaged in a pursuit with the suspect near the Gilroy area. The pursuit continued north on Highway 101 until exiting onto surface streets in South San Jose. Police officers took over the pursuit until it ended near the 100 block of Bendorf Drive. Authorities said the suspect fired at officers during the pursuit.

Officials with the San Jose Police Department believed the suspect was also involved in a homicide in their jurisdiction. That incident happened shortly after 7:00pm near the 1400 block of Mount Shasta Drive. An adult male victim in that incident was rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries but later died. That was San Jose’s 17th homicide of the year.

On Bendorf Drive, the suspect barricaded himself in a property. Shortly before 8:00am he was involved in a shooting again with police after pointing a firearm at authorities and was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Both incidents are still under investigation. Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Modesto Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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