Disturbing new surveillance footage shows a California family of four, including an 8-month-old baby, being kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business by an ex-convict — as the family remains missing and authorities still don’t have a motive.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said during a Wednesday press conference that the victims have not been found yet, even after a person of interest in the case, identified as 48-year-old Jesus Salgado, was taken into custody Tuesday following a failed suicide attempt.
Warnke said his officers were working around the clock and following up on every lead — “even from psychics” — to locate the missing family: 8-month-old Aroohi Dher; her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39.
“We are devastated, we are shocked, we are dying every moment,” a relative said at the the briefing on Wednesday.
Surveillance video from the family’s business in Merced that was released for the first time Wednesday shows Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh arriving at work just minutes apart after 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
A short time later, Jasdeep makes contact with the person of interest, Salgado, who follows him up a ramp into the building. A black gun could be seen in his hand.
At 9:11 a.m., the recording shows Salgado exiting the business with the gun at hand through the back door along with the Singh brothers, whose hands are restrained behind their backs with zip ties, according to police.
Officials said Salgado placed the men in the backseat of a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh and drove off, but returned 6 minutes later and headed back inside the business alone.
Less than a minute later, the video shows Kaur and her infant daughter emerging from the back door, with the person of interest walking behind them. The final shot in the video shows the truck speeding away from the scene.
Two hours later, Amandeep Singh’s 202 Dodge Ram truck was found engulfed in flames in Winton with no sign of the missing family, or the suspect.
Salgado was detained Tuesday after investigators caught him on surveillance camera using one of the victims’ ATM cards in Atwater.
Before cops could approach the person of interest, he tried to take his own life — but Sheriff Warnke would not say how.
The sheriff said there is no word on a possible motive, but he believes it could be financial. It is unclear if the family knew Salgado.
Authorities have also not ruled out the involvement of another person in the crime.
Meanwhile, the sheriff said Salgado remained sedated at a hospital Wednesday and detectives have been unable to talk to him yet.
Still, he is hopeful Salgado will cooperate with the investigation once he regains consciousness.
“I’m worried about getting that family back,” Warnke stressed, adding that all other considerations, such a future trial, are secondary to him at this point.
Warnke revealed that Salgado was convicted in 2005 of an armed robbery involving false imprisonment. He was released from prison on parole in 2015 and have had no major contact with the authorities since.
The missing family’s relatives who attended the press briefing appealed to the public for help with finding them.
“Please do come forward,” a family member begged. “Any small lead could get us to our family.”
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