From the e-mails and the voice mails:
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT -- Two of the people watching the manhunt that ended in Salida last week were veterans at that sort of thing, it turns out.
The episode began when the Rite Aid on Oakdale Road was burglarized in the wee hours of the morning Sept. 13. Police got a description of the suspects' vehicle, and it later turned up in Turlock. Police there began a chase that ended when the car crashed into an orchard at Kiernan Avenue and Hammett Road.
The suspects ran on foot, and the search forced a lockdown of Salida Middle School. Authorities caught one suspect, a Southern California man, and the other got away.
Among those observing the event from the sidewalk in front of the middle school were Frank Ploof and Robin Fischer, both of Salida.
Oddly enough, both became involved -- directly or indirectly -- in a July 1999 case that also concluded in Salida. A group of thugs had robbed the former California Federal Bank at Oakdale and Orangeburg Avenue, swapped cars behind the Raley's across the street and then fled north where three of the five suspects jumped out of the getaway car, which hit two of them.
One surrendered hours later after walking into a fast food restaurant at Sylvan and Oakdale, ordering food and eating it as he waited for authorities to arrive so he could surrender.
Two others made it out to a Salida neighborhood, and that's where Ploof and Fischer became part of the story.
The getaway car blasted through some neighborhood fences, one of which belonged to Fischer's sister, Raquel Duncan.
"They drove through her yard and ripped her shed out, came out the front yard and rammed into the fence in front of the Macy home and then fled," Fischer recalled.
At the time, Duncan lived next door to Ploof, who since has moved across the freeway and nearer to Salida Middle School.
One of the bank robbers hid in Ploof's garage, where his too-nice Doberman pinschers simply kept the guy company.
Knowing the criminals had crashed through her sister's yard, Fischer and her family went to Duncan's home to check on her. Fischer's husband went to the door and spoke to Duncan while Robin and the kids stayed in the car.
"We could see her in the doorway," Fischer said. "All of a sudden we heard Frank yell, 'He's in here! He's in here.' I'm thinking, 'Is this (suspect) going to drive off with me as a hostage?' "
Instead, the robber took off through the neighborhood and deputies moved in to make the arrest.
Now, 11 years later, Ploof and Fischer found themselves standing on the same sidewalk watching another manhunt, though in lesser capacities. Fischer's son is a student at Salida Middle School, which was locked down during the manhunt. Ploof lives near the campus and brought along a golden retriever.
They were introduced by a mutual acquaintance at the command center, and both mentioned the déjà vu thing.
"I was saying something about that (1999) incident," Fischer said. "I'd never met (Ploof) before, but I knew who he was. I went over and talked to him. We were just reminiscing."
You know -- about another time, another manhunt.
THE POWER OF FRIENDS -- Employees at the Modesto Irrigation District are coming to the aid of Modesto's Angela Rodriguez and her family. Three years ago Angela was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system. She suddenly became ill, finding herself paralyzed and unable to breathe, and she couldn't blink her eyes. She has regained most of her upper-body functions but remains in a wheelchair.
Married, she and husband Humberto have two sons: Samuel, 9, and Joshua, 4. She has not been able to work since being stricken, and the family has suffered financially. The family's 1981 Dodge van is wearing out, and her friends and family want to help Angela and Humberto replace it. Hoping to raise more than $10,000, the folks at the MID -- where Angela's mother, Claudia Hermann, works -- have established an account in Angela Rodriguez's name at the Bank of the West's main Modesto branch at 901 H St. downtown.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.