Authorities released surveillance video Wednesday showing the moments a masked suspect kidnapped a California family of four, including an 8-month-old girl, at gunpoint.
A person of interest in the incident was in custody, but the family remained missing Wednesday after authorities said they were taken “against their will” from a business in California’s Central Valley on Monday, it was announced the Merced County Sheriff’s Office. The incident sparked a massive search and appeal to the public for help.
Family members included Aroohi Dheri, 8 months; his 27-year-old mother, Jasleen Kaur; his 36-year-old father, Jasdeep Singh; and his 39-year-old uncle, Amandeep Singh, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives were notified Tuesday that one of the victim’s ATM cards was used at a bank in Atwater, a small town eight miles west-northwest of Merced, according to the sheriff’s office . Later that day, the sheriff’s office identified Jesús Manuel Salgado, 48, as a person of interest in the investigation.
Charges against Salgado have not been announced. He is currently in the hospital in critical condition after authorities say he tried to take his own life.
PREVIOUS REPORTS:Police are looking for a family of 4 from California, including an 8-month-old baby
Footage released by authorities shows Jasdeep Singh arriving at a business in a brown van, followed by Amandeep Singh, who arrived in a black pickup truck. Authorities narrated the surveillance footage during a news conference Wednesday.
The video shows a masked suspect walking south on California State Route 59 toward the business Monday, authorities said.
Jasdeep Singh exited the building and made contact with the suspect before the two began walking back into the building, the sheriff’s office said.
Footage then shows the suspect pulling out a gun as he entered the building. There were no cameras inside the business.
Minutes later, the suspect was seen leaving the building with Jasdeep Singh and Amandeep Singh bound with nooses, authorities said. The suspect then put the two in the backseat of a pickup truck and drove off.
The video later shows the suspect returning and returning to the business before returning to the truck with Jasleen Kaur and 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, both unrestrained. The truck left and headed south on the highway.
Officials are still looking for a motive for the kidnapping, Sheriff Vern Warnke said Wednesday. But Warnke said he believes the motive may have been financial, adding that there is no evidence to suggest the incident may have been a hate crime.
Investigators also believe Salgado may not have acted alone.
“I fully believe there was at least one other person involved, but we don’t have any evidence to back that up, just the circumstances surrounding that,” Warnke said.
Before being arrested, Salgado tried to kill himself, the sheriff’s office said. He was sedated at a medical facility and in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, Warnke said, adding that detectives hope the investigation will move more quickly once Salgado is awake and alert.
“Hopefully we can get some answers,” he said.
Salgado was previously convicted of robbery in 2015, Warnke said.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office is working with the California Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate the incident.
Warnke again asked for the public’s help in the investigation Wednesday, adding that the office’s dispatch number and tip line have been inundated with calls. He said the office is looking at all the tips that come in, including some psychics who have called the tip line.
“We leave no stone unturned,” he said.
At Wednesday’s news conference, relatives of the missing family desperately asked for the public’s help in providing any information that would help find them.
In an interview with KXTV-TV, Jaspreet Caur, wife of the kidnapped uncle, said she and her husband have two young children. He said the family owns a trucking company that had opened just a week before the kidnapping.
“My husband is a very calm and quiet person,” Caur said. “We have no idea why they were kidnapped.”
“Please send my family back,” she pleaded.
Contact News Now reporter Christine Fernando at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.