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Robbery, Assault Mar Memorial Day Weekend

POSTED May 31, 2011 11:12 p.m.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend was busy with the usual traffic logjam heading up and from the Sonora pass through the heart of Oakdale and while there were no serious traffic accidents with only two minor crashes with property damage, and only two DUI arrests, there was plenty to keep officers on their toes.
Earlier in the week, before the holiday weekend began, officers were dispatched to the home of a 15-year-old Oakdale boy who was the victim of an assault. The boy, whose identity is not being released for his safety, received lacerations on both arms from a knife attack and contusions on his face and head.
The victim told police four young men who drove by and yelled Norteño gang slogans accosted him. Soon after, the boy was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground. Two suspects, later identified as Maximinio Fernandez, 18, of Merced, and Rigoberto Picos, 18, of Oakdale forced the victim into a car and drove him to an area outside the city limits. The suspects brandished knives and cut the boy on the arms and beat him. The suspects told the victim they attacked him because he was a “dropout” from the Norteño gang and they knew he’s been associating with Norteño and Sureño gang members.
The victim knew both suspects and later picked both from a photo line up.
The victim believed he lost consciousness during the assault. When he woke he walked home and reported the assault to family members who called police.
Saturday, May 28 around 7:50 p.m., Oakdale Police Sgt. Joe Johnson and Officer Gary Vanderheiden stopped a car in the 100 block of North Eighth Avenue in Oakdale. The driver, Fernandez, was taken into custody without incident. No firearms were found in the car.
Fernandez was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on the charges of kidnapping, battery causing serious injury, criminal conspiracy, and participating in a criminal street gang.
Later that night members of a special enforcement unit comprised of officers from Modesto, Ceres, and Oakdale were conducting operations in Oakdale and went to Picos’ home to arrest him for his involvement in the assault. He was not home but arrived in a vehicle while officers were still at the residence. Picos was taken into custody without incident and charged with the same offenses as Fernandez.
Sunday morning, May 29 around 2:20 a.m. two Oakdale men, ages 22 and 23, reported being victims of an armed robbery in the area of Grove Avenue and G Street. The victims’ identity is being withheld to protect their safety.
One of the victims called 911 saying a heavy-set white male in a black shirt and a Hispanic male were accosting them. The two men asked the victims if they had cell phones, then pulled a handgun on them and demanded property. The victims relinquished some cash to the suspects then fled the area before calling police.
Within minutes Oakdale Police Department Reserve Officer Joe Cruz located two men matching the mens’ description, walking in the 700 block of East G Street. When they spotted Cruz, one of the suspects, later identified as Manuel Ribera, 26, of Oakdale tossed something (a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun) in a yard. When more officers arrived, Ribera and his companion, Austin Lawrence, 35, of Oakdale, were both taken into custody without incident. Both were charged with felony armed robbery, felonious assault with a firearm and criminal conspiracy. Ribera was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance when officers found a small amount of methamphetamine in his possession.
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