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Video shows California family with baby being kidnapped at gunpoint

SF Gate 10/5/2022 Amy Graff
© Merced County Sheriff's Office

A video shared on Wednesday shows the moment a family of four was kidnapped at gunpoint near Merced, a city of 86,000 people in the San Joaquin Valley about 125 miles southeast of San Francisco, according to the Merced County Sheriff's Office.

This is the latest piece of evidence to emerge in the Merced County Sheriff's Office investigation of Monday morning's abduction of 8-month-old baby Aroohi Dheri; her parents Jasdeep Singh, 36, and Jasleen Kaur, 27; and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39. The four were at an office for the family's trucking company south of Merced off Highway 59 when a man forced them into a black Dodge truck before driving off, the sheriff's office said. A 48-year-old male suspect, Jesus Salgado, who reportedly tried to take his own life after the incident, was taken into custody Tuesday, and the family remains missing, according to the sheriff's office. 

"We have not been able speak to the suspect in this case, due to his medical condition and due to the attempt on his own life," Merced County Sheriff  Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

At a press conference, Merced County Undersheriff Corey Gibson walked through surveillance footage from a camera on the outside of the office, showing a masked man walking by the property before talking to Jasdeep. Later, it shows him leading Jasdeep and Amandeep, with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep's pickup truck. The suspect drove off and later returned, parking at the office and returning to the back of a trailer that served as the business office and led Jasleen, who was carrying her baby in her arms, out and into the truck before the suspect then drove away. 

Nothing was stolen from the trucking company, but Warnke said that after the kidnappings, an ATM card belonging to one of the family members was used in Atwater, a city about 9 miles north of Merced.

While the kidnapper made no ransom demands, Warnke said he thinks the suspect was financially motivated. 

"We don't have a motive," said Warnke. "I can tell you our suspect has a prior history of robbery and he was actually convicted of it in 2005 and once he was sentenced, he was paroled in 2015, and since the parole we have not had any major contact with this person at all. But we figure that's what the motive is now."

Investigators have not found a link between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other before the kidnapping.

“As of right now, we believe it was random,” Deputy Alexandra Britton said. “We don’t have evidence to prove otherwise.”

Warnke said he believes there may be at least one other person involved in the kidnapping beyond Salgado, though he doesn't have evidence to prove this. 

This is a developing story and details will be added as they emerge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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