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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

Carlos Rodriguez

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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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Car Wash Fundraiser Planned for Shooting Victim

Carlos Rodriguez

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MODESTO – A car wash fundraiser benefitting Evan Robinson, the teen who was shot and killed over the weekend near a taco truck in Keyes, was planned for Saturday.

The event is scheduled to begin at 10:00am at Stanislaus Towing at 1307 Angie Avenue.

Robinson, 16, was shot during a fight near Seventh Street and Martha Avenue in Keyes. Emergency personnel attempted to save his life, but he did not survive his injuries. Investigators believe he was an unintended victim.

No suspect information was released in the case. Authorities are asking for witnesses to come forward.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Deputy, Hostage Wounded in Shooting With Suspect

Carlos Rodriguez

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SAN ANDREAS – An elderly woman and a deputy were injured during a hostage situation that left the suspect dead Thursday night in Calaveras County.

At about 10:39pm dispatchers received a 911 call regarding an argument between a man and a woman at the Sierra Inn Motel. The caller reported the man had pointed a gun at the woman’s head. Deputies with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office responded to investigate, but the suspect had left the area before they arrived.

Deputies began searching the area for the suspect, treating the case as a domestic violence incident. As a deputy interviewed the victim at an apartment complex, the suspect ambushed the deputy and victim opening fire and wounding the deputy. The deputy was able to get the victim to safety.

Additional deputies, CHP officers and Angels Camp Police responded to the scene and began searching the apartment complex. The suspect emerged from an apartment holding an elderly woman hostage with a gun. Authorities believe the hostage was unrelated to the initial incident.

Authorities tried to reason with the man and get him to release the hostage, but their efforts did not work. As the suspect posed a threat to the hostage, authorities opened fire. Both the suspect and hostage were wounded during the shooting. The suspect died at the scene, the hostage was transported by air ambulance to a regional trauma center for care.

The ambushed deputy was airlifted as well. Both he and the hostage were expected to survive.

The incident is under investigation by multiple agencies. No further details were released Friday afternoon.

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Shooting Kills Teen After Fight in Keyes

Carlos Rodriguez

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KEYES – A shooting during a fight claimed the life of a teen Sunday night.

Shortly after 8:45pm Sunday, authorities responded to a report of a shooting near the intersection of Seventh Street and Martha Avenue. Deputies arrived and found an unresponsive teen who had been shot multiple times in the roadway. Life saving measures were performed, however the victim died at the scene.

Witnesses said a fight broke out while people were eating at a taco truck and shots were fired. Investigators believe that the victim may have been an unintended victim hit by gunfire. A silver car was seen leaving the area and believed to be involved in the homicide.

Detectives responded to investigate the case. Much of the intersection and surrounding streets were closed off as a crime scene for the investigation. Persons of interest were identified, but investigators need more witnesses to come forward to name a suspect.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Detective Hickman at (209) 525-7042, or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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