Ceres police chase down, capture three teens suspected in park robbery assault

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Police officers chased down and arrested three teenagers early Wednesday after robbers accosted two people at neighborhood parks, including one man who was assaulted at gunpoint.

Raul Arias, 18, of Ceres, Antonio Miranda, 19, of Ceres and a 17-year-old Modesto boy were arrested on suspicion of robbery, said Ceres Police Sgt. Greg Yotsuya. The boy’s name was not released because he’s a minor. A fourth suspect was not captured.

Yotsuya said investigators were still trying to sort out the roles each of the suspects had in the crimes, but it’s likely that at least one of them will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

About 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, police officers responded to a reported robbery that had just occurred at Neel Park near Boothe and Helen Perry roads, several blocks south of Hatch Road in Ceres.

A 19-year-old man was sitting in the park, when a van pulled up. He told police that male suspects got out of the van, and at least one suspect had a handgun.

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The man at Neel Park was knocked to the ground and assaulted, according to a Ceres police news release. The robbers took the victim’s fanny pack, belt and shoes.

The Neel Park victim suffered a cut to his head and injuries to his right knee during the assault, police said. The victim called 911 to report the robbery as he drove himself to a local hospital.

Smyrna Park attempted robbery

As officers responded to the Neel Park robbery, an attempted robbery occurred at Smyrna Park near Fowler and Moffett roads. The two parks are within a mile from each other.

Police officials said a 29-year-old man at Smyrna Park was approached by suspects who arrived in a van. The suspects told the man to give them everything he had. He only had his cell phone with him, so the suspects told him to throw his phone into the park. The suspects then left the park. The victim was not assaulted.

About 45 minutes later, a van was spotted in the area of Lawrence and Ninth street in Ceres, about a mile south of Smyrna Park. Police said the van matched the suspect vehicle description from both park confrontations.

Police Officer Eric Souza tried to pull over the van, but it took off. A brief vehicle pursuit ensued. The van turned into an alley off of Roeding Road, near Eighth Street, about two blocks south of where the pursuit began. In the alley, four suspects got out of the van and scattered.

The officers surrounded the area and searched for the suspects. The Modesto Police Department used a drone to help with the search. A Stanislaus County sheriff’s helicopter also joined the search for the suspects in Ceres.

The three suspects later arrested were found hiding in various locations, according to police, and investigators found a handgun near the van. Police said property belonging to the Neel Park robbery victim was found inside the van.

Police officials ask anyone with information about these reported crimes to call Detective Matthew Berlier at 209-538-5616.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.