Two Remaining Orange County Jail Fugitives Caught In San Francisco [Updated]
The two remaining inmates who escaped from a Santa Ana jail last week were captured in San Francisco early on Saturday, police said.
NBC L.A. reports that Hossein Nayeri, 37, of Newport Beach, and Jonathan Tieu, 20, of Fountain Valley were taken into custody by the San Francisco Police Department Saturday morning. ABC-7 reports police apprehended the fugitives near Golden Gate Park in the heart of Haight Ashbury, shortly before 9 a.m.
"I can say that the entire state can breathe a sigh of relief," said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens in a press conference held at noon.
Hutchens said that that the capture was the result of a coincidence. Around 8:50 Saturday morning, San Francisco police officers were handling an unrelated medical emergency near Haight and Stanyan Streets, in one of the most historic (and touristy) areas of San Francisco. Hutchens explained how a "citizen approached the officers and pointed out a white van parked in the parking lot of the Whole Foods located on Stanyan."
Officers approached the van and saw Nayeri flee on foot. They chased him down and took him into custody. More officers returned to the van, where they found Tieu hiding inside. SFPD confirmed that the van is the same the three fugitives stole last week. Supposedly the three men have been driving and living out of the van for the past week.
Hutchens also said that several rounds of .380 caliber ammunition were found in the van, though there was no weapon recovered.
Both suspects will be taken to the S.F. County Jail, where Orange County investigators will conduct interviews, and coordinate the two fugitives' transportation back to O.C.
Investigators turned their attention to the Bay Area this week, believing the inmates were possibly headed there or Fresno. According to ABC, the men may have been drawn to San Jose because of its large Vietnamese population (Tieu is reportedly a member of a Vietnamese gang). The Orange County Sheriff's department also said that Nayeri might have family or an associate in Fresno.
The manager of the Alameda Motel in San Jose said he believed all three of the fugitives stayed at his motel on Tuesday and Wednesday, and left Thursday morning.
On Friday, one of the fugitives, Bac Duong, was arrested in Santa Ana after walking up to a random civilian and telling her he wanted to turn himself in. According to the L.A. Times, Duong had gone north with the other two men, but managed to return to Santa Ana on his own.
The three had been on the run since breaking out of the Orange County Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana last Friday, which investigators say was accomplished using an elaborate plan involving sawing through steel, and escaping through a plumbing tunnel before rappelling down the side of the jail from the roof.
You had a good run, guys.
Updated, 3:43 p.m.: Police initially said the citizen who tipped them off to the van in the Whole Foods was a woman, but later confirmed that it was a man.
The manager of the Alameda Motel in San Jose also spoke to the Times about the fugitives' stay at the hotel earlier this week. They prepaid $200 in cash for two nights for a smoking room with one twin bed and one full-size bed. The manager, who did not wish to be identified, said he saw one of the men, Bac Duong, washing their getaway van in the motel parking lot over the course of their stay. He told him to stop, and he complied. He also said the three were quiet and well-behaved.
"I just can't believe it," the manager told the Times. "There are crazy things going on in life. But these guys were quiet, nice and no drama."