Merced Co deputies searching for home invasion suspects

FRESNO, Calif.

Merced County Sheriff's Deputies are looking for four men accused of robbing a home just outside of Atwater early Thursday morning.

The house is located on Manchester near Broadway.

Merced County Sheriff's Deputies rushed to the home near Atwater after getting reports of a robbery. The house is on the same property as an auto maintenance and storage yard, and investigators say it didn't take long to figure out the motive for the crime.

"Four suspects arrived to confront the victims at this residence about a dispute over a car. Apparently one of the suspects on a previous occasion had stored the car here or loaned the car here and accused one of the victims of selling it while he was in prison," Deputy Tom MacKenzie of the Merced County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputy Tom MacKenzie says the suspects demanded the 23-year-old victim pay them for the missing car.

"When he couldn't provide the money for the vehicle, they struck the victim, which is a 23-year-old Hispanic male, in the back of the head with a rifle," MacKenzie said.

The victim's 33-year-old brother showed up a short time later, and the suspects held him at knife point while they ransacked the house. Investigators say the men stole several items before leaving the scene in a white ford expedition.

"We believe they may be in route to Modesto," MacKenzie said.

Jose Lambaren showed up shortly after the robbery to pick up a car that was supposed to be towed from the property to his home. He was shocked to learn why his vehicle never arrived.

"I'm surprised. I'm surprised because I was waiting for my car to be towed to my house, so I just came over here and I seen the car and said, what's going on here?" Lambaren said.

Lambaren says it's a frightening reminder that crime can happen anywhere at anytime.

"It's closer to home than you think you know you see it on TV and stuff like that, but now it's pretty close because I only live about 2 miles from here," Lambaren said.

Deputies are searching for that white Ford Expedition. They say it has a dent to the rear right side. Anyone who sees it is urged to call the Merced County Sheriff's Office.

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