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Relatives plead for help to find California family kidnapped at gunpoint

Relatives of a family kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in central California pleaded for help Wednesday in the search for an eight-month-old girl, her mother, father and uncle.

Authorities at a news conference Wednesday showed surveillance video of a man kidnapping the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child’s mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39 from their Merced business on Monday.

The video showed the suspect first walking by the property before talking to one of the men. Later, it shows him leading the men, who had their hands zip-tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. The suspect then went back to the trailer that served as the business office and led Jasdeep Singh, who was carrying her baby in her arms, out and into the truck before the suspect then drove away.

Family members said nothing was stolen from the trucking company but that their relatives were all wearing jewelry. Merced county sheriff Vern Warnke said that after the kidnapping, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used in Atwater, a city about nine miles (14km) north-west of Merced.

A poster from the Merced county sheriff’s office shows three photos. The first is of an infant girl, the second a mother and father holding the girl, and the third is a man in a blue track suit.
Aroohi Dheri, 8 months; mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were kidnapped at gunpoint in Merced. Photograph: Merced County Sheriff’S Office/Reuters

Relatives of the victims asked anyone who owns a convenience store or gas station in the area to check their surveillance cameras for images of the suspect or the family. They said they were worried the baby wasn’t being fed because the family didn’t have any baby food with them at the time of the kidnapping.

“Please help us out, come forward, so my family comes home safe,” said Sukhdeep Singh, a brother of the victims.

Relatives of Jesus Salgado, 48, contacted authorities reporting that he had admitted to them he was involved with the kidnapping of the family, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday. Salgado tried to take his own life before police arrived at a home in Atwater, and he has since been hospitalized, he said.

Warnke said detectives have not been able to speak to Salgado, who has been under medical sedation in the hospital, but they are hoping to do so on Wednesday with the help of doctors.

Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands.

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

Warnke said that while detectives have not established any motive or determined whether Salgado worked with any accomplices, he believes the suspect was driven by money and colluded with someone else.Family members told KXTV-TV that the trucking company office in Merced, a city of 86,000 people about 125 miles (200 km) south-east of San Francisco, had only opened about a week earlier.

“My husband is very peaceful and calm person. We don’t have any clue why they kidnapped them,” said Jaspreet Caur, wife of the kidnapped uncle.

The sheriff said detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The sheriff’s office said that firefighters on Monday found a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh that was on fire. Merced police department officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to reach him and the couple.

When they were not able to reach their family members, they called the Merced county sheriff’s office to report them missing, the office said.

The sheriff’s office said the FBI, the California department of justice and other local law enforcement agencies are helping with the investigation.

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