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Debbie Lane Shooting Victim Remembered as Friend to All, Family Man

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MODESTO – Michael Sullivan, or “Big Jesse” as he was affectionately known by those close to him, was a friend to all.

That’s how many of his friends wanted him remembered as they gathered near his home on Debbie Lane Sunday trying to make sense of what happened to him.

Big Jesse’s life was taken during a shooting shortly after 2:00pm. The accused shooter was a neighbor.

But the end of his life was not how those gathered Sunday wanted him to be remembered.

Tracy Burkhart only met him six months ago, but knowing Big Jesse felt like having a lifelong best friend. Just like everyone at the scene Sunday, the two hit it off and became close.

“We just had a tri-tip dinner at his home last night,” Burkhart said. Together the two talked about their families and interests. They worked on vehicles together, and recently made a funny TikTok video of themselves as they pushed a Chevy Tahoe down the road because of the high gas prices.

The Tahoe, according to those watching Sunday’s events unfold, was a key to why their friend’s life was taken.

“Over a damn license plate,” said David Rivera.

Rivera explained that Big Jesse had recently purchased the Tahoe from his neighbor for $800. The vehicle was in a state of disrepair.

“So he bought a replacement motor for it,” Rivera said. “There were nuts and bolts all over his garage, but in the end, they were all put back in place.”

Rivera explained that Big Jesse had experience working on motorcycles. The Chevy Tahoe would have been a new challenge.

“For him to do the work he did, and get that vehicle running, that’s pure talent.”

A talent that Rivera lamented is now as irreplaceable as the man himself. He knew Big Jesse for the last three years.

“Jess was a smart guy and a fast learner. He was friendly and accepting, and we knew mutual people, so getting to know him felt right.”

He loved his three kids and was looking forward to spending the summer with them and go camping. Events and memories that Tracy Burkhart would have liked to experience beyond the six months he knew him.

“Now, I feel like I didn’t get enough time to value the friendship he gave to me,” Burkhart said.

Both Burkhart and Rivera vowed to offer their help to their friend’s family, in honor of the friendship he showed to them.

“I don’t care how long it takes tonight,” Rivera said while observing the investigation. “The last thing I want to do is close the garage door to his home for him.”

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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Unfounded Threat Locks Down School

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CERES – A precautionary lockdown at Central Valley High School was lifted Friday after a threat was determined to be unfounded.

At about 12:43pm, school resource officers with Ceres Police were notified of a person on the grounds of Central Valley High School. The school was placed on a precautionary lockdown. While officers were on scene, a 911 call was placed from someone claiming to be a student reporting an active shooter.

Deputies with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office also responded, and the call was determined to be untrue.

“There is no need to pick up students from campus. All students are safe and have been returned back to class,” a notification to parents stated.

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Homicide Investigated, Woman Found Deceased In Vehicle

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STOCKTON – A call for a report of a stabbing in South Stockton lead to the discovery of a woman found deceased in a vehicle.

Police were called Thursday morning to the area of Sikh Temple and Fourth Streets around 7:00am where they made the discovery. The woman was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The area was closed off with crime scene tape as detectives responded to investigate the incident. No motive or suspect information was available at post time.

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

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Two Injured in Stockton Shooting

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STOCKTON – Police responded to a report of a shooting that injured two people Wednesday night.

Shortly before 9:30pm officers responded to the 5500 block of Fox Sparrow Court for a report of a shooting. Two victims, a 25 year old man and 21 year old woman, were found with injuries and taken to a hospital by ambulance. Authorities say they were shot while sitting in a vehicle, and their injuries were considered non-life threatening.

Police officers canvassed the area for a crime scene. No suspect information or further details were available at time of publication.

Anyone with information regarding this case 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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