HAVING WEAPONS LEADS TO ARREST: A Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy arrested a Knights Ferry man Monday morning on suspicion of possessing an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons, a sheriff's spokesman said. A deputy was responding to an unrelated call in the area about 1 a.m. when he heard shots being fired and tracked them to a home on Sonora Road, Sgt. Larry Seymour said. The deputy found Victor Hernandez-Villanueva, 29, with the assault rifle and four other unlicensed guns, Seymour said. Under state law, possessing an assault rifle is illegal for anyone who didn't register it by Jan. 1, 2002.
SMALL FIRES ALONG HIGHWAY: A three-mile stretch of road along Highway 99 saw seven grass fires Monday evening, authorities reported. Turlock Rural Fire Department Chief Rick Fortado said investigators found no obvious clues about their cause, but there was nothing to indicate they were intentionally set. Firefighters responded about 5 p.m. and finished putting out all hot spots by 7 p.m., he said. The fires, near the Turlock rest area and Golden State Boulevard, were under control within about 40 minutes. The Golden State ramp onto southbound Highway 99 was closed for firefighter safety from about 5:40 to 6 p.m. Engines were parked on the roadside and smoke made it hard for motorists to see the engines and firefighters. Fortado suggested two possible causes for the flare-ups: a vehicle dragging a chain that threw sparks or the hot bearings that can fly from the wheels of large trucks.
POLICE CHECKPOINT FRIDAY: Police and probation officers plan to conduct a sobriety and driver's license checkpoint Friday at an undisclosed spot within the Modesto city limit. Officers will be looking for motorists under the influence and those on probation who aren't allowed to consume alcohol.
GANG AWARENESS: Workshops will be held by the Merced Police Department in conjunction with Merced Community Violence Prevention & Intervention Task Force. Dora Crane, a teacher and mother, will share the story of her son's membership in a street gang and how she failed to recognize the signs until it was too late. Other parents of gang members also are participating. The program is designed to give parents and the public information on gangs, the threat they pose to the community and how to steer children away from gangs. Go to www.MercedComVIP.org for more information. The next workshops will be held Thursday at Weaver and Pioneer schools, 3076 E. Childs Ave., from 7 to 8 p.m., and on April 9 at Merced High, 205 W. Olive Ave., from 7 to 8 p.m. To schedule a workshop for your school, organization or business, contact Mike Conway at 385-6232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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