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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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Car Crash Causes Chain Reaction of Power Outages, Fires

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MODESTO – A vehicle that collided into a utility pole Thursday afternoon caused a chain reaction of power outages and fires in a West Modesto neighborhood.

The incident happened Thursday shortly before 12:30pm. A vehicle collision near Rouse and Roselawn Avenues involving a utility pole caused power lines to snap mid-block to the west. The energized lines collapsed and sparked a fire that quickly engulfed at least one outbuilding. The fire began to spread south consuming vegetation and jumping fences into neighboring properties.

Several fire crews responded from various agencies, including Turlock City and Manteca. Firefighters were able to control the forward spread of the fire mid-block on Colorado Avenue. Some neighbors used garden hoses to defend their properties as best as they could.

Emergency crews were on scene for several hours. Utility crews de-energized the damaged lines for repair. Several residents in the area were without power for some time while repairs were made.

The driver of the involved car that crashed into a utility pole was not located. Police officers responded to investigate. There was an apparent auto theft nearby roughly around the same time, but authorities weren’t sure if the incidents were connected.

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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Shooting Claims Man’s Life, Injures Another

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STOCKTON – Police investigated a shooting that fatally wounded a man and injured another Tuesday night.

Police officers responded to the 1800 block of South San Joaquin at about 9:42pm for a report of a shooting. Arriving officers found two men suffering from gunshot wounds.

One victim, a 33 year old man, died from his injuries at the scene. The second victim, a 41 year old man, was transported to a hospital for treatment and is expected to survive.

A witness in the area who wished to remain anonymous said they heard a disturbance down the street shortly before the gunfire. They described what appeared to be someone running away, but couldn’t make out a description.

The intersection of San Joaquin and Fourth Strets were closed off by police. The crime scene extended to South Sutter Street. Detectives responded to investigate the shooting, however no motive or suspect description was available for release Wednesday.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Deputies Investigate Report of Shooting Near Mobile Home Park

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MODESTO – Deputies investigated a report of a shooting near a South Modesto mobile home park Sunday night.

The incident was reported shortly before midnight near the Modesto Mobile Village on South Seventh Street. Arriving deputies located one person with an injury. An ambulance responded to the scene to treat the injured person but it appeared they did not require hospitalization.

Several people appeared to be detained by deputies nearby during the investigation. An area west of an entrance to the mobile home park was taped off as a crime scene.

No further details were available at time of publication.

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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