The four members of a family from California who were kidnapped earlier this week were led out of a business by a gunman before disappearing, according to surveillance footage released Wednesday by local officials. Person of interest is in custodybut has been hospitalized in critical condition after a suicide attempt, preventing any communication so far, authorities said.
The video, shown at a news conference by Merced County Sheriff’s Office officials, shows two of the family members — 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh — arriving at the business at about 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. About half an hour later, a man is seen walking towards the business and talking to Jasdeep before the pair entered the building. The man is seen dropping the trash bag he is carrying and pulling out a firearm.
There are no cameras inside the business — but at 9:11 a.m., the man is seen walking out of the building with Jasdeep and Amandeep, both zipped by the hands, and putting them in the back of a truck. The truck leaves, but returns six minutes later. The suspect went back inside and left 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 frantic search by local authorities.
On Tuesday, a person of interest — identified as 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado — attempted to kill himself in nearby Atwater, authorities said. The exact circumstances are unclear, but Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said he tried to kill himself before law enforcement arrived on the scene. Salgado survived, but remains in critical condition and has not yet been able to contact authorities.
Warnke said he hopes Salgado’s condition will improve enough Wednesday for him to be interviewed.
“We are leaving no stone unturned,” he said.
Warnke said there is no clear motive for the crime, but noted that Salgado was convicted of robbery in 2005. He was released on parole in 2015 and has had no significant contact with law enforcement since then, 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 ransom requests.
And while there is no evidence to suggest another person helped in the kidnapping, Warnke said his years of law enforcement experience leads him to believe at least one other person was involved.
A family representative who spoke at the press conference pleaded with local businesses to check surveillance cameras for any evidence. He described the victims as a “peaceful family” who own a small business and have lived in the area for years.
“We are devastated, we are shocked, we are dying every moment,” he said.