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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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Police Investigate Reported Shooting

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MODESTO – Police responded to a report of a person shot Thursday near a busy intersection.

Shortly before noon officers were called to a report of a shooting near the intersection of McHenry and Orangeburg Avenues.

Early reports indicate one person was found injured near a bus stop. Arriving first responders attempted life saving measures.

The parking lot of the Pep Boys/Advance Auto Parts was closed off as a crime scene along with Orangeburg Avenue east of McHenry Avenue. By 12:30, investigators were arriving on scene.

One person may have been detained, a second person may have ran to a hospital for care. Stay tuned for further details.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Modesto Police or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Shooting Investigated in South Modesto

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MODESTO – Emergency personnel responded to a report of a person shot Saturday night near Imperial Avenue.

Shortly before 10:00pm emergency personnel responded to the 100 block of Imperial Avenue for a report of a person shot. Arriving deputies located one person who was shot in a pathway between Imperial and Glenn. Fire and medical crews also responded to the scene.

There was no confirmed suspect information available at time of publication, but it was believed the person responsible fled the area on foot.

The area was taped off by deputies.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Shooting Investigated on Pacific Avenue

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STOCKTON – Officers with the Stockton Police Department investigated a report of a person shot late Thursday morning near Sherwood Mall.

The shooting happened at about 10:45am in the mall’s parking lot. Early reports indicate at least one person was struck by gunfire. The area was taped off and surrounding roadways were closed to traffic.

An alert from San Joaquin Delta College read as follows:

“Mustang Alert!: Police Activity at Mall – Shooting across from Stockton campus at the mall. Suspects fled away from campus. Delta is safe. Avoid Pacific Avenue.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600 where callers can remain anonymous.

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