The authorities have launched a search and arrest operation for three extremely dangerous Orange County inmates who managed to pull off a daring escape from the Orange County Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana, which is located about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles. According to a report from the Associated Press, the men escaped after cutting through the jail’s half-an-inch thick steel bars, and then rappelling from the roof using a makeshift rope.
UPDATE: Officials say 3 escaped inmates cut through steel bars and plumbing tunnels https://t.co/MQYpWmIm13
— O.C. Register (@ocregister) January 24, 2016
Officials are currently conducting an intensive search for the inmates, who were identified as Jonathan Tieu, 20, Bac Duong, 43, and Hossein Nayeri, 37.
MESSAGE FROM SHERIFF HUTCHENS pic.twitter.com/4vDqpZYn6u
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSD) January 24, 2016
“The sheriff’s No. 1 priority in this is the safety of our community,” Lt. Jeff Hallock explained to reporters during a press conference. “We have dedicated all available resources to this search and investigation so that we may bring all three inmates back into custody.”
Prison workers noticed around 9 p.m. Friday that the inmates were not accounted for, and authorities immediately searched the Central Jail complex and nearby areas, but could not find them. The last time they were seen was around 5 a.m. on Friday, Hallock indicated in press statements released by the Los Angeles Times. They could have escaped at any time between this time and Friday night.
Hallock said Saturday afternoon that investigators believe that the three prisoners, who are considered extremely dangerous, had a “very well-thought-out and planned escape.”
— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) January 24, 2016
The three men were in jail charged with violent crimes. Nayeri, imprisoned since September, 2014, had been charged with kidnapping, aggravated mayhem, torture, and burglary, and he was being held without bail. Meanwhile, Tieu faces charges that include murder, shooting at an inhabited home, and attempted murder. His case is believed to be gang-related and he was held on a $1 million bail and had been in custody since October, 2013.
Bac was held without bail due to an immigration hold since December, 2015, a report from KABC-TV Los Angeles states. He faces charges for attempted murder, an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property, car theft, assault with a deadly weapon, and shooting into an inhabited home.
According to KTLA, the Orange County inmates escape marks the third escape in the history of the maximum-security facility, which was built in the 1960s. As an updated report from the OC Register explains, there are still several unanswered questions as to how the inmates could have managed such a daring escape.
It is still unclear as to what type of tools were used for cutting, or where they might have come from and investigators are still looking into whether the men had help from the outside, or a getaway driver. It isn’t clear if the men ran away from the facility in their jailhouse orange jumpsuits, or if they managed to quickly change. And it isn’t known if they cut through the steel bars and tunnel walls in one sitting, or if they carried the work out in increments.
However, one thing is certain — the escape likely took weeks, or even months, to plan.
The Los Angeles FBI has announced a $20,000 reward to anyone who provides information that facilitates their capture.
“I think the public should expect the worst if they’re encountering them and call 911 and allow the professionals to respond,” Hallock said.
[Image via Twitter]