Indian-origin family kidnapped in California; Suspect in custody
California kidnapping: The family, originally from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, was kidnapped at a business in Merced County, California, on Monday.
A 48-year-old man considered a “person of interest” in the kidnapping of a four-member Sikh family, including an 8-month-old child, in the US state of California has been taken into custody and is in critical condition, authorities said, even as the victims are still missing.
The family, originally from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, was kidnapped at a business in Merced County, California, on Monday.
The family was identified as 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her 27-year-old mother Jasleen Kaur, her 36-year-old father Jasdeep Singh, and her 39-year-old uncle Amandeep Singh.
A vehicle owned by one of the family members was found on fire late Monday, which led law enforcement to determine that the four had been kidnapped.
According to a news release, detectives received information Tuesday morning that one of the victim’s bank cards was used at an ATM in Atwater in Merced County.
“Investigators obtained the surveillance photo of a subject making a bank transaction where the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene,” the Merced County Sheriff’s Office statement says.
Before law enforcement involvement, the suspect identified as Jesus Manuel Salgado “attempted to take his own life,” and is currently in “custody, receiving medical attention and in critical condition.”
“Investigators continue to follow up on all leads and are working diligently to find the family,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
“We continue to ask for the public’s help with any information that may assist us in locating the family’s whereabouts," the statement read.
The family is believed to have been “taken against their will” while at a business in the 800 block of South Highway 59 in Merced, which is in central California between Modesto and Fresno.
“We have no motivation behind it. We just know they are gone,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a video message posted on Facebook.
The suspect is described as a man with a shaved head and was last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt, the sheriff’s office said. He is considered armed and dangerous, officials added.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice have joined the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.
Jasdeep and Amandeep's parents -- Dr Randhir Singh and Kirpal Kaur -- were in a state of shock when they heard about the kidnapping.
Randhir and Kirpal retired from the health and education departments, respectively.
Randhir returned to India from abroad on September 29. He then left for a pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. When he reached Rishikesh, he received a call from his daughter-in-law Jaspreet Kaur from the US who told him about the incident of kidnapping of her husband Amandeep and other family members.
After knowing about the incident, Randhir Singh returned to his village on Tuesday evening and was preparing to leave for the US.
Charanjit Singh, a neighbour of Randhir Singh, said that Jasdeep's parents were in a state of shock and not in a position to talk.