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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

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MERCED – The parents of a three year old girl who was taken with their car as it was stolen were relieved to have their child back home Monday night.

The incident happened at about 6:45pm on the 400 block of West 27th Street, as Melissa Foster was preparing to take her Toyota Corolla to a car wash.

“I took one second just to run back to my porch to grab my purse,” Foster said. “In that split second, my mom saw the car door open and close.”

Someone had jumped into the car and began driving off with it. Melissa’s three year old daughter Jessie Sanchez, or “JJ” as she is affectionately called, was still inside. Melissa chased after the car on foot for two blocks before the vehicle was able to get away.

She believed whoever took her car and her daughter had been watching and waiting for her.

Police searched the surrounding neighborhood for any sign of the the stolen vehicle and the child.

“Commonly when someone steals a car and finds a child inside they (the suspect) will usually abandon the car within three or four blocks,” said Captain Jay Struble with the Merced Police Department. “Unfortunately this was not the case here.”

As time continued to pass with no sign of the car or the child, authorities issued an Amber Alert. Photos of the car and child were posted and shared to social media sites to help the word spread.

At about 8:45pm, the California Highway Patrol received a call from a citizen saying they saw the vehicle parked at a Chevron in Chowchilla. Authorities responded and found the vehicle abandoned with the child inside. Officers had to force entry into the vehicle to gain access, but found the child was unharmed and uninjured.

Detectives with the Merced Police Department, officers with Chowchilla Police and California Highway Patrol, as well as a K-9 from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for any signs of a suspect. Monday night there was no word of an arrest.

Captain Struble said investigators were looking at surveillance video from the area, but they can only make out what appeared to be a male figure.

Jessie was brought home and reunited with her family in Merced shortly before 9:30pm. To brighten her spirits, Officer Rogelio Rodriguez bought her lollipops to enjoy on the drive home.

“She was very excited to see her mom and dad when she got back.”

The parents expressed their gratitude for the authorities involved in searching for little Jessie, and thankful for the public and Amber Alert system that made everything in this incident work out.

“Your mind is just a fog in that moment,” the child’s mother said of the two hours waiting while police searched for the girl. “I know she’s so strong and so brave.”

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

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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

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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

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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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