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Family Seeks Justice in Strawberry Fields Park Murder

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CERES – A 17 year old boy was charged in the January murder of Miguel Angel Peña of Ceres, who was shot at Strawberry Fields Park and died days later at a hospital.

“I have questions of why,” Fabiola said. Her family could not make any sense of why anyone would do something like this to her brother Sebastián as he was known by his loved ones.

“I think we were full of frustration,” she added. “We have no answers and we wanted to know what was going on.”

Sebastián’s loss is a further blow to her family since the loss of her mother Lupita, who passed away only a couple months prior from cancer. The loss of both of their loved ones have left her relatives in deep depression and uncontrollable anxiety.

“He didn’t just hurt someone,” Fabiola said of the accused. “He hurt a whole family, friends and others.”

Fabiola described her brother as hard working and family oriented. Often working throughout the day with her father or brother. Together they worked in landscaping yards, power washing, or construction jobs.

“What I’m going to miss the most is his caringness,” Fabiola said of her brother. “He always did more for everyone else than he did for himself, and he would always put other people before himself.”

Fabiola said her family has found peace in the thought that her brother and mother are together, and that her family is now focusing on finding justice for Sebastián. They understand the road is long with an expected court case, and are looking forward to being advocates for her brother.

“Me and my other four siblings will speak on behalf of Sebastián, and make sure he gets the justice that he deserves.”

Asuzena Peña, another of Sebastián’s sisters, added that they are glad the suspect turned himself in, but are looking forward to justice being served.

She said her family won’t be satisfied and won’t rest “Until he is trialed and imprisoned for life.” They don’t want another killing they described as ruthless and without thinking.

One day at a time, one step at a time is how the Peña family describes how they will proceed. Through family and through their faith.

“God’s timing is perfect,” Fabiola explained. “It was about to be three months since this happened, and we got a sign. Hopefully this helps, and everything moves faster.”

The arrest happened Wednesday, according to a press release by the Ceres Police Department. The suspect, who according to authorities turned himself in, was booked into Juvenile Hall and faces charges including murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and robbery.

Because he is only 17, the suspect’s identity was not released. Police did say he was from Modesto, however and that the investigation is ongoing.

The shooting originally occurred on January 11th near the area of Malik Avenue and Hackett Road. Sebastián was struck by gunfire along with another passenger he was with in a vehicle. The bullets were fired from a passing car, and struck several neighboring homes. A second round of gunshots were fired as the vehicle drove off. The incident was captured on several home surveillance cameras.

Sebastián was taken home and dropped off by those he was with. He was found by his loved ones, suffering from his injuries in the front yard. Police and medics responded and he was taken to a hospital where he fought for his life, but he died a few days later.

The incident has left Sebastián’s family shattered, a feeling that his sister Fabiola described Thursday afternoon after receiving word that someone was finally being held accountable.

Sebastián was 18 when his life was taken. He is survived by his father Javier, and siblings Javier Jr, Goretty, Jonathan, Asuzena and Fabiola.

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Fire Burns Along San Joaquin River Near Newman

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NEWMAN – A brush fire burning along the San Joaquin River summoned a response from multiple fire crews Thursday.

At about 2:00pm firefighters responded to the area near Hills Ferry and River Roads for a report of a brush fire. Arriving fire crews requests more resources to the scene as the fire quickly grew.

By 2:30pm the fire had begun to burn on the east side of the San Joaquin River. Several trees, bushes, grass and at least one structure all caught fire.

Firefighters from Newman, West Stanislaus, Merced County, Mountainview and Woodland Avenue all responded to the scene. Newman Police and CHP officers provided traffic control.

No cause was available Tuesday afternoon.

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Firefighters Respond to Brush Fire

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STANISLAUS COUNTY – Firefighters from Salida and Escalon responded to a vegetation fire on Carver Road Tuesday night.

The fire was reported shortly after 10:00pm on Carver Road just north of Ladd Road. Neighbors in the area reported hearing a boom shortly before seeing flames burning into dry brush. One neighbor said it appeared the fire was growing quickly, but the response from firefighters was just as fast.

The fire burned on both sides of Carver Road and extended to a few acres. It was controlled in about an hour by fire crews. A cause was unavailable Tuesday night.

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Police Investigate Report of Stabbing

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MODESTO – Police responded to a report of a person stabbed Tuesday night near Downtown Modesto.

The report was dispatched shortly after 9:00pm to the area of Tenth and K Streets. Early reports indicate the victim was stabbed and fled to Cesar Chavez Park where he called for help.

Police, fire and medical personnel responded to the park where they located the victim. He appeared to have visible wounds and blood on his back. He was taken by ambulance for care.

Officers searched the area near where the stabbing was said to have occurred for any signs of a crime scene. A confirmed suspect description and circumstances surrounding the incident were not available at time of publication.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Modesto Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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