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Suspect found in family robbery; victims are 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 Wednesday and remained in critical condition, 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 the victim’s ATM card. The family was robbed at gunpoint Monday from a business in Merced, the agency said, without providing further details.

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

Detectives obtained a surveillance photo from an ATM in Atwater, about 9 miles (14 kilometers) north of Merced, and “the individual is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo taken from the original robbery scene,” the bureau said in a statement. The sheriff’s office released two images of a possible suspect seen on surveillance footage and asked for the public’s help in identifying him.

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

The robber took the child, Arooh 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 on Facebook Monday.

Warnke said the kidnapper did not demand a ransom or make contact.

Family members told KXTV-TV that the family, which owns a trucking company, was moved from an office they had only opened about a week earlier.

“My husband is a very calm and peaceful person. We have no idea why they kidnapped them,” said Jaspreet Caur, wife of the kidnapped uncle.

The sheriff said detectives believe the robber destroyed unspecified evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Firefighters found a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh on fire Monday, the sheriff’s office said. Officers from the Merced Police Department went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to get hold of 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 FBI, California Department of Justice and other local law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

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