Terror arrest rattles neighbors in suspect's hometown near Modesto

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Before leaving the country for his ill-fated trip to Tunisia, suspected ISIS sympathizer Bernard Augustine was a high school student in a town just outside Modesto. (KGO-TV)

Before leaving the country for his ill-fated trip to Tunisia, suspected ISIS sympathizer Bernard Augustine was a high school student in a town just outside Modesto.

Neighbors on the street where he lived say they knew something strange was going on at the two-story house with four satellite dishes and at least as many parked cars -- but they never suspected a connection to terror.

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"I'm in shock. Just like you guys i'm in shock," neighbor Araceli Hernandez said.

We'd just told her that Augustine is the second Stanislaus County man to be arrested on suspicion of terror activity in recent years.

"I don't know anything about his family," said neighbor Miguel Rivera. "I only see people coming in and out."



Neighbors said they believe Bernard Augustine attended Pitman High School.

"We were thinking he would go to school because he would always wear a backpack in the morning and come back like in school hours," Hernandez said.

Several neighbors told us Augustine lived in the house along with a handful of other family members, including one who they said is a nurse.

The blue Mustang that remains parked in the driveway belongs to one of the women in the family, they said. The driveway is painted green, with yard markings that mimic a football field.

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Neighbors said other teens would sometimes visit the house.

"(Bernard) had a girlfriend when he was going to high school. But I don't know who she was," Hernandez said.

Though they say he didn't talk much, neighbors say Bernard wasn't altogether quiet. According to one neighbor, a penchant for Ford Mustangs seems to run in the family.

"The younger guy, I have seen him in a Mustang type of car," neighbor Lizzie Salinas said. "A newer car, and kind of screeching up and down the street."

It wasn't the only other car at the house, which has two driveways and an ample lawn.

"There were a lot of cars there in the driveway and in front of the house, they were actually parked up on top of the lawn," Salinas said. "And then they were all gone."

Several neighbors said about a year ago, the cars -- and the contents of the house -- were abruptly carried away.

"A tow truck came and got 'em all," Hernandez said. "There were like four."

Salinas said she saw movers blocking the street one day as she went to pick her grandson up from school.

"They were just moving stuff in and out, and there was big boxes," she said, and added they also mowed what was an unsightly lawn. "The weeds were like taller than me."

Now, the house is clean, the lawn is only slightly overgrown, and neighbors have questions.

"It's kind of creepy," Salinas said. "That close to home -- you expect that in big cities. Not in this little tiny town."

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