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



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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Two Injured in Downtown Assault



MODESTO – Police closed off a section of Tenth Street early Saturday Morning after a report of a stabbing that sent two victims to hospitals.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight at a nightclub near Tenth and J Streets. People leaving the area on foot who wished to remain unidentified said they were inside of the Rancho Fresco Cantina when they noticed what appeared to be a fight break out.

Two ambulances were called to the scene to treat the victims and take them to hospitals for care. At time of publication there was no word on either victim’s condition. Bloody clothing was left in a planter on Tenth Street and in the alleyway behind the businesses.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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Officer Involved Shooting Investigated in Tracy



Officers examine a corner of Mosswood Court Friday afternoon where an officer involved shooting took place.

TRACY – One person who was said to be armed with a knife was rushed to a hospital Friday afternoon after being shot by a police officer.

Shortly before 2:00pm officers were called to the area of Mosswood Court for a report of a person with a knife chasing another. During the encounter an arriving officer fired his gun at the person said to be armed with a knife.

Officials at the scene said the person shot was rushed to a hospital in unknown condition. They had identified that person but were holding that information for a proper time.

The neighborhood was closed off while investigators responded to determine what took place.

No other injuries were reported.

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Aircraft Emergency Investigation Closes Mitchell Bridge



Emergency personnel examine a crashed airplane near the Mitchel Road Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

MODESTO – An investigation into an aircraft emergency closed the northbound lanes of the Mitchell Road Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

At about 1:00pm emergency crews were dispatched to the fields east of the Mitchell Road Bridge north of the Tuolumne River for a report of a plane crash.

Arriving rescuers found a plane crashed face down into the ground near a group of trees. One person was deceased in the aircraft according to an official at the scene.

One witness at the scene said he was driving down Hatch Road when he noticed the plane at an awkward angle, but thought nothing of it at first.

No cause of the crash or estimated time of opening for Mitchell Road was available at time of publication.

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