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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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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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