Family Kidnapping Suspect Found; victims still missing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man suspected of kidnapping a Sikh family, including an 8-month-old baby, in central California tried to kill himself and remained in critical condition Wednesday, authorities said. The family is still missing.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that investigators identified Jesus Salgado, 48, after he used a victim’s ATM card. The family was kidnapped at gunpoint from a business in Merced on Monday, the office said, without providing further details.

The sheriff’s department scheduled a news conference to discuss the case Wednesday morning.

Detectives obtained a surveillance image from the ATM in Atwater, a town about 9 miles (14 kilometers) north of Merced, and “the subject is similar in appearance to the surveillance image from the original kidnapping scene,” the office said in a statement. The sheriff’s office had released two still images of a possible suspect seen in surveillance footage and asked for the public’s help in identifying him.

The sheriff’s office said detectives received information identifying Salgado as a person of interest and that he had attempted to take his own life Tuesday before police arrived. The office did not say where Salgado was taken into custody.

The kidnapper took the child, Aroohi Dheri; the child’s mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a video posted Monday on Facebook.

Warnke said the kidnapper made no demands for ransom or contact of any kind.

Family members told KXTV-TV that the family, who have a trucking company, were taken from an office they had only opened about a week earlier.

“My husband is a very peaceful and calm person. We have no idea 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 firefighters found a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh on fire Monday. Merced police officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to reach him and the couple. When they were unable 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, California Department of Justice and other local law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation.

Merced is a city of 86,000 people about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco in the San Joaquin Valley.

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