Sam Sangha had a tough time sleeping on Monday night. The news of the kidnapping of the Merced County family hit too close to home.
Sangha, 46, of Merced, is family friends with the victims, 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur, 27, Jasdeep Singh,36, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39.
"I was shocked," Sangha said. "It was devastating. I didn't know what to believe. You always see that stuff in the movies, but when it happens to somebody you know it's totally different."
"It's disturbing," Sangha added. "I have kids of my own. It's scary to know something like this could happen."
Sangha says he'd often see the family at the local Sikh Temple or at weddings, birthdays, or other community events.
"They are very decent people, nice people," said Edward Kainth, who is also a family friend. "I've known them for about seven years. They stay busy, work hard. They were starting their own business from the ground up. They're trying to live a good life, a happy life with their family."
Kainth, 58, says he can't remember something like this happening in the 25 years he's lived in Merced.
Sheriff's detectives believe the family members were kidnapped at gunpoint from a vehicle storage business they operated off South Highway 59, Gateway Parking.
Investigators say the discovery of the burning truck in Winton before noon Monday led to the kidnapping investigation.
According to a sheriff's news release, at 11:39 a.m. Monday firefighters with Cal Fire's Madera-Mariposa-Merced unit were dispatched to Buhach Road and Oakdale Road in Winton after a black 2020 Dodge Ram truck was reported on fire.
California Highway Patrol officers arrived around 12:35 p.m., and requested help from the Merced Police Department to contact the truck's registered owner, Amandeep Singh.
Merced police arrived at the residence, but they were unable to reach Amandeep Singh. They did reach family related to the victims.
After family members were unable to reach the victims, the four were reported missing to the Merced County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies then responded to the business on South Highway 59, and determined the four family members had been kidnapped.
"Heard about the kidnapping (Monday) and it was kind of a shock," said 59-year-old Kevin Ballard, the store manager of Garton Tractor Inc. The businesses located just up the road from the Gateway Parking business on Highway 59.
"'Been in the area my whole life and its kind of scary that it's coming to our backdoor. It's just amazing that something like that would happen here in Merced," Ballard said.
'Person of interest' in custody
Merced County Sheriff's Deputies announced they had a 48-year old man in custody in connection with the kidnapping on Tuesday afternoon.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was identified as a person of interest in the investigation into the disappearance of the four family members.
Detectives received information that one of the victim's ATM cards was used at an ATM located at a bank in the City of Atwater, according to a news release by the Merced County Sheriff's Office.
Prior to law enforcement involvement, Salgado attempted to take his own life. Salgado is now receiving medical attention and in critical condition, deputies say.
Salgado has a prior criminal history. According to Merced County prosecutors, Salgado was convicted of witness intimidation and a residential robbery with gun enhancements on Dec. 19, 2005 and released from prison on June 21, 2015.
The Sheriff's Office, with the help of several law enforcement agencies continue to actively look for the all four kidnap victims.
"I hope they find them," Sangha said. "All our prayers are with them. We're all devastated for the family."