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Amber Alert Suspect, Children Located in Modesto

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MODESTO – Police located a man and two children who were the subject of an Amber Alert out of Riverside County Friday night.

Nicholas Zeko was taken into custody by Modesto Police Officers around midnight. Zeko and the two children were found at the Tiki Lodge on McHenry Avenue, along with the vehicle authorities were searching for. The gold trim of the vehicle appeared to have been spray-painted white, with some paint staining at least one of the tires. The license plate was also removed.

An ambulance was called for Zeko to have him medically cleared. The man and two children appeared to have been staying in an upstairs room at the motel. Police taped off a portion of the parking lot and vehicle with crime scene tape. The children appeared unharmed.

There was no sign of 32 year old Mariela Costello, who authorities in Riverside County said was a previously unreported missing person in the case. Her out of state relatives grew worried when they did not hear from her.

Zeko told her relatives via text message that he had dropped her off in the area of Sunnymead Ranch Parkway and Village Road in Moreno Valley. Zeko was said to have taken her wallet and cell phone. He later told authorities the same thing.

Riverside authorities said Costello and the children have a protective order against Zeko, and that he was also wanted on several felony and misdemeanor charges including terrorist threats, battery on a former spouse, and willful cruelty to a child.

Mariela Costello is five feet, five inches tall and weighs approximately 115 pounds. Her last known clothing is unknown. She has not been seen or heard from since September 16th.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Riverside County Sheriff’s Office at (951) 776-1099.

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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Teen Suffers Head Wound in Highway Shooting, Suspects Arrested

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STOCKTON – Investigators with the California Highway Patrol arrested a man suspected of being involved in a shooting that wounded a teen Monday afternoon.

The incident happened shortly after 3:00pm near the area of Highway 99 and Kettleman Lane in Lodi. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of a Nissan Altima fired a gun several times at the victim vehicle, striking a teenage passenger in the head. The driver of the victim vehicle drove the teen to Lodi Memorial Hospital for care. Valley Division CHP Investigators responded to work the case.

Moses Mercado, a 21 year old resident of Lodi, was identified as a suspect during the course of the investigation. Investigators located and arrested Mercado after a brief pursuit in South Stockton that ended on South California near Worth Street. A passenger of the Nissan Altima, 21 year old Bella Villanueva of Ripon, was also arrested. Villanueva faces charges of aiding and abetting, conspiracy, and concealing evidence.

Mercado was charged with attempted murder, carrying a loaded firearm with a previous felony conviction, being a felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit a crime, being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition, and shooting at an inhabited vehicle. He is in custody without bail and due in court on June 30th at 1:30pm.

A third suspect, 29 year old Edgar Hernandez of Stockton, was arrested and charged with carrying a loaded unregistered firearm concealed in a vehicle.

“We want to assure the public that these acts of violence are not random, but are often targeted attacks between parties that know each other,” said Commander Mel Hutsell of the Stockton CHP Office. “We take these types of incidents very seriously and are committed to ensuring public safety.”

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact CHP Investigations at (916) 731-6300.

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Brush Fire Fills Skies with Smoke

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SALIDA – A brush fire in the north end of Stanislaus County filled the skies over Modesto and neighboring communities with smoke Monday and Tuesday.

The fire was reported in San Joaquin County initially, but jumped the Stanislaus River late Monday afternoon. The fire burned in heavy brush along the river near the 10100 block of Beckwith Road.

Early indications suggest the fire to have burned 150-200 acres, however at time of publication an exact measurement was not available.

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Airport Neighborhood Shooting Investigated

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MODESTO – One person was rushed to a hospital after a report of a person shot Monday Afternoon.

The incident happened shortly after 1:30pm near the intersection of Kerr Avenue and Tenaya Drive. An ambulance left with one person and a sheriff deputy following close behind.

The area was closed off with crime scene tape as deputies examined the scene. Evidence technicians and investigators responded as well.

No further details were available at time of publication.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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