Family holds out hope for missing teen

FRESNO, Calif.

Mercado was last seen in an illegal marijuana garden east of Sanger eight days ago. He and two buddies were there to steal marijuana plants. But a man who was guarding the garden started shooting at the boys. Sammy fell down and his friends drove away. They told Sheriff's Deputies that when they came back, Sammy was gone.

Detectives have identified a person of interest in the case. He is Ernie Chanmany of Fresno. He is facing felony weapons charges in another case. Two trucks owned by his family were found abandoned in an orchard on Thursday. It's believed the trucks were in the marijuana garden when Mercado disappeared. Sylvia Garza believes Chanmany is on the run. "I'm assuming his family is hiding him somewhere," she told Action News.

While investigators try to solve this mystery, those who care about Sammy Mercado are doing what they can to find him. Reyes Chavez was busy putting up missing persons flyers in Sanger. He said, "it's because he was a friend of mine, and I'm also tired of all the violence in the community."

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