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Afghan Refugee Thankful For Help From Police



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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Officer Involved Shooting Investigated in Tracy



Officers examine a corner of Mosswood Court Friday afternoon where an officer involved shooting took place.

TRACY – One person who was said to be armed with a knife was rushed to a hospital Friday afternoon after being shot by a police officer.

Shortly before 2:00pm officers were called to the area of Mosswood Court for a report of a person with a knife chasing another. During the encounter an arriving officer fired his gun at the person said to be armed with a knife.

Officials at the scene said the person shot was rushed to a hospital in unknown condition. They had identified that person but were holding that information for a proper time.

The neighborhood was closed off while investigators responded to determine what took place.

No other injuries were reported.

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Aircraft Emergency Investigation Closes Mitchell Bridge



Emergency personnel examine a crashed airplane near the Mitchel Road Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

MODESTO – An investigation into an aircraft emergency closed the northbound lanes of the Mitchell Road Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

At about 1:00pm emergency crews were dispatched to the fields east of the Mitchell Road Bridge north of the Tuolumne River for a report of a plane crash.

Arriving rescuers found a plane crashed face down into the ground near a group of trees. One person was deceased in the aircraft according to an official at the scene.

One witness at the scene said he was driving down Hatch Road when he noticed the plane at an awkward angle, but thought nothing of it at first.

No cause of the crash or estimated time of opening for Mitchell Road was available at time of publication.

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Double Homicide Investigated in Merced County, Warrant Issued For Suspect



HILMAR – Authorities with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office are searching for a 40 year old man in connection to a double homicide that happened Tuesday night.

Authorities responded to the 19000 block of American Avenue regarding a possible homicide Tuesday night. Arriving deputies located two adult victims deceased.

Wednesday authorities identified 40 year old Victor Bazan as a suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest. Officials believe he is related to one of the victims, and he is known to be transient to the Modesto, Ceres and Turlock areas.

Relatives of one of the victims reaching out said a white stolen vehicle Bazan may have been traveling in was found abandoned in Bakersfield.

Anyone with information regarding Bazan’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact law enforcement immediately. He should not be approached.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact (209) 651-2852 where callers can remain anonymous.

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