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Afghan Refugee Thankful For Help From Police

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TURLOCK – Samir Shirzad fled Kabul the day before it fell to the Taliban.

The city was his home for the last four years where he lived with his sisters and parents. Prior to that they lived in a northern province of Afghanistan until it became unsafe.

As the Taliban began to occupy his home, Samir took the opportunity to flee while he could, with the promise of supporting his family from abroad.

“Inshallah,” Samir said, which means “God willing.”

Through an organization called International Rescue Committee, Samir was able to flee Kabul and come to the United States. Within a couple of days, he was in Turlock hoping to find work.

“Tomorrow I have an appointment with my caseworker to apply for everything I need to work.”

Samir worked as an interpreter in Afghanistan. His English is very good, so he was able to quickly find jobs in logistics and construction. Often times he worked between US Military and their Afghan counterparts translating through various projects. Both of his parents are teachers. His father taught for 20 years, and his mother teaches at a local college.

With the Taliban takeover, some essential services have been cut off. Since he fled Kabul, Taliban fighters had gone to his father’s house looking for him, Samir said. His father told them Samir was dead and to leave the family alone.

“They only have about a week supply of food left,” Samir said. His need to find work is urgent to him.

“It is my wish to work. I would like to be a guard, or a driver, anything.”

Monday, Samir found himself at Donnelly Park enjoying the afternoon. He was approached by a man who had asked to borrow his cell phone to make a phone call. Samir agreed, but the man took the phone and ran.

Samir was able to call for help, and police responded within a few minutes. At around the same time, officers were investigating a report of a stolen vehicle that was taken from a cafe on Geer Road. The suspect who took Samir’s phone was sitting in the stolen vehicle.

The suspect fled as officers approached, but he was quickly apprehended. An ambulance was called for the man as he showed indications of being under the influence of a substance.

“He was acting very strangely,” Samir said. “He moved and waved his arms like something was wrong.”

Police were able to return the owner of the car to his stolen vehicle. Samir was very pleased with the response of the officers.

“In my country, maybe I would have seen my phone in ten days. Here, in ten minutes.”

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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Fire Damages Turlock Home

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TURLOCK – A home suffered significant damage Sunday night during a fire.

The fire was dispatched at about 11:45pm. Several fire crews responded to the fire at the home on the 1000 block of South Johnson Road. Firefighters reported a visible column of smoke as they responded to the scene.

Arriving firefighters reported heavy fire from the second floor of the home. Crews from Denair and Turlock Rural Fire Departments responded to the scene.

A second alarm was called shortly before midnight for additional resources.

At time of publication a cause and damage estimate was not available.

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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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