The four members of a California familywere led out of a business by an armed man before they disappeared, according to surveillance footage released Wednesday by local officials. A person of interest , but has been hospitalized in critical condition after attempting to die by suicide, preventing any communication thus far, authorities said.
The footage, shown at a press conference by officials from the Merced County Sheriff's Office, shows two of the family members — 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh — arriving at the business at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning. About half an hour later, a man is seen walking toward the business and speaking with Jasdeep before the pair enter the building. The man can be seen dropping the trash bag he's carrying and pulling out a firearm.
There are no cameras inside the business — but at 9:11 a.m., the man is seen exiting the building with Jasdeep and Amandeep, who are both zip-tied at the hands, and putting them in the back of a pickup truck. The truck leaves, but returns six minutes later. The suspect goes back inside, and leaves soon after with 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month old child, Aroohi Dheri.
The family has not been seen since, prompting a furious search by local authorities.
On Tuesday, a person of interest — identified as 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado — attempted to die by suicide in nearby Atwater, authorities said. The exact circumstances aren't clear, but Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said he tried to take his own life before law enforcement arrived on the scene. Salgado survived, but is hospitalized in critical condition and has not yet been able to communicate with authorities.
Warnke said he's hopeful Salgado's condition will improve enough on Wednesday that he can be interviewed.
"We're not leaving any stone unturned," he said.
Warnke said there's no clear motive for the crime. The Merced County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that Salgado was convicted in 2007 of witness intimidation, home invasion robbery with a gun and attempted false imprisonment in connection with a 2005 incident. He was paroled in 2015 and has not had any major contact with law enforcement since, Warnke said. Until law enforcement proves otherwise, Warnke said they believe the motive in this case is also financial — but he said earlier this week that authorities have not received any requests for a ransom.
And while there's no evidence to suggest that another person helped with the kidnapping, Warnke said his years of law enforcement experience lead him to believe that at least one other person is involved.
A representative for the family who spoke at the press conference pleaded with local businesses to check their surveillance cameras for any possible evidence. He described the victims as a "peace-loving family" who run a small business and have lived in the area for years.
"We are devastated, we are shocked, we are dying every moment," he said.
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