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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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Police Investigate Early Evening Shooting

Gaby Muro

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STOCKTON – Two victims with gunshot wounds arrived at a local hospital early Monday evening prompting an investigation.

At about 7:30pm, authorities received a report of gunfire on the 300 block of East Oak Street, between North San Joaquin and North Sutter Streets. Early indications suggest the victims arrived by private vehicle at a hospital.

Shortly before 8:00pm, a report was made of another victim arriving at a hospital.

Police responded to the area to gather evidence and investigate. No further details were available at time of publication.

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Teen Charged in Fatal Shooting at Modesto Food Truck

Gaby Muro

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MODESTO – A 13 year old boy was arrested and charged with murder following a Tuesday night shooting at a taco truck.

At about 8:15pm Modesto Police officers responded to the taco truck on the 1600 block of Monterey Avenue for a report of a person shot. Arriving officers found the victim inside.

The victim, identified as 67 year old Rafael Avila-Rodriguez of Salida, was rushed to a hospital but later died.

The investigation determined that the suspect approached the truck on foot and shot the victim before running away.

Detectives identified the suspect as a 13 year old boy from Modesto. He was located during a traffic stop in Southwest Modesto by officers with the Street Gang Unit and arrested. The teen was booked into juvenile hall on murder charges.

Investigators did not have a motive Wednesday morning. Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Teens Arrested in Carjacking Case

Gaby Muro

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STOCKTON – Four teens were arrested in a carjacking case after leading officers on a short pursuit.

Police say the carjacking happened shortly after 12:30am near the 400 block of East Sonora Street. A 58 year old man and a 55 year old woman were approached by the suspects while sitting in their vehicle.

Authorities say the victims were forced from the vehicle by the suspects who then took it and left. The vehicle was later located by officers in the area of Hammer Lane and Amber Way. Police tried to stop the vehicle but the suspects fled, leading officers on a short pursuit.

The pursuit ended when the vehicle collided with a fence. All four suspects were identified and taken into custody.

Gabriel Olvera, 18, two 17 year olds and a 16 year old were arrested and charged with carjacking, conspiracy and evading.

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