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Police Arrest Felon With Gun After a Pursuit, Crash

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MERCED – Authorities arrested a man wanted on firearm violations after a pursuit that ended in a car crash Wednesday afternoon.

At about 4:00pm, detectives with the Merced Police Department and the Gang Violence Suppression Unit tried to stop and apprehend 28 year old Mark Whitaker. Whitaker had an outstanding warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities spotted Whitaker on the 1600 block of Martin Luther King Junior Way but he didn’t stop for police. He fled, leading officers on a high speed chase that lasted almost six miles. Whitaker ended up crashing into a pole near the Atwater/Merced Expressway as he attempted to enter Highway 99. He fled on foot but was captured a short distance away.

An ambulance was called to check Whitaker following the crash, and he was taken to a hospital to be cleared by medics. He was later booked into the Merced County Jail on charges including reckless driving, evading officers, prohibited possession of firearms, resisting, and obstructing officers.

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Schools Locked Down for Suspect Search

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MODESTO – Two schools were placed on lockdown during a search for a suspect Friday afternoon.

The incident happened at about 1:00pm when a Stanislaus County Sheriff Deputy noticed a vehicle that had been reported stolen on Dallas Street near Glenn Avenue. The driver of the stolen vehicle appeared to be talking to someone in the area, according to officials at the scene.

The driver ran away on foot as deputies made their approach. The man jumped fences through a yard and fled into an alleyway. The Stanislaus Sheriff Air Unit spotted the man making his way into a yard on Las Vegas Street.

Bret Harte Elementary and Hanshaw Middle School were placed on lockdown as a search team was organized. Within a few minutes the man was located hiding under a vehicle and quickly detained without incident.

By 2:00pm the lockdowns were lifted. No injuries were reported.

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Stockton Police Investigate Fatal Shooting

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STOCKTON – Police investigated the fatal shooting of a man in broad daylight Tuesday afternoon.

At about 3:30pm Officers responded to the 900 block of Porter Avenue for a report of a shooting. A 29 year old man was found at the scene suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he died from his injuries.

Residents in the area reported hearing a gunshot shortly before police arrived.

Porter Avenue was closed by authorities while detectives responded to investigate the case. No suspect information or motive was available Tuesday night.

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

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Woman Involved in Amber Alert Found Safe

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MODESTO – The woman involved in a recent Amber Alert that involved children and a suspect found in Modesto was found safe Monday, authorities said.

Mariela Costello, 32, was found safe although further details regarding her location were not provided.

Costello was identified as a previously unreported missing person by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. Out of state relatives became concerned when they did not hear from her sometime around September 16th.

Investigators turned their focus on 34 year old Nicholas Zeko who told authorities he left the woman in Moreno Valley, but kept her wallet and cell phone. Authorities issued an Amber Alert after Zeko fled with their two children, claiming their lives were in imminent danger.

Zeko and the two children were found in Modesto at the Tiki Lodge on McHenry Avenue. A Modesto Police officer noticed his SUV that had its trim freshly painted. Zeko was quickly detained without incident.

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