Orange County jail escape: 1 inmate arrested; escapees were in San Jose
Bac Duong, one of the three inmates who escaped an Orange County jail, surrendered and was taken into custody shortly before noon Friday, according to Orange County Sheriff's Department Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. The other two escapees remain on the loose and were with Duong in the San Jose area as of Thursday, before he headed back south and turned himself in without them, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said in a later press conference.
Hutchens said Duong approached a civilian on the streets and said he wanted to turn himself in. He was arrested minutes later. He has been cooperating with authorities, Hallock said.
Hallock said there was a possibility the other two escapees would head to Fresno, as one of the other escapees, Hossein Nayeri, is believed to have connections there.
"The longer they're out of custody, the more dangerous they become," Hallock said.
One of the reasons that the suspects were in the San Jose area was due to the area's large Vietnamese population, Hallock said.
The windows on the van that the escapees are believed to be in may be tinted, Hallock said. Yellow decals that were across the back and along the doors have been removed, and the paper license plate on the vehicle has been replaced with a different paper plate, according to Hallock.
The $200,000 reward remains in place, Hallock said. The suspects should be considered armed and dangerous, according to Hallock, who cautioned that those in Southern California shouldn't let their guard down, as the escapees could return from the San Jose area.
Hallock said that he did not know where the suspects were getting money and the civilian clothing that they are believed to be wearing. He said that officials are looking into the possibility of putting information about the van on electronic freeway billboards.
Duong had previously been arrested on charges of possession of a firearm as an ex-felon, possession of firearm, possession of stolen property, vehicle theft, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
He is also suspected of having ties to a Vietnamese gang in Orange County and had been in jail since December, Hutchens said. Hutchens said Duong was ineligible for bail after he was placed on immigration hold. At a press conference Thursday, sheriff's officials said his country of origin had refused to accept him.
Watch video released by the Sheriff's Department of Duong in custody:
CBS2 was also on the scene:
Earlier Friday, a Sheriff's Department official said deputies had raided two buildings in Westminster Thursday evening — a residence and a warehouse — as the search for the three jail escapees continued.
Authorities focused on the Little Saigon area of Westminster, where they believe at least one of the remaining escapees has significant ties.
Hallock said officials are exploring Vietnamese gang ties to the inmates, as well as potential organized crime connections. Hallock said several people were detained during the overnight raids, but were released soon after.
"Numerous search warrants have been conducted," Hallock said.
It's been a week since Duong, along with Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu, climbed through a hole cut in a grate in a high security area of Central Men's Jail and rappelled off the roof using rope made of linens.
Hallock said earlier Friday that the search for the escapees continues to center around a white GMC van that investigators say the men stole after responding to a Craigslist posting advertising its sale. The license plate — 8U66466 — may have been removed by now, Hallock said.
Thursday, investigators announced the three had help on the inside. Deputies arrested 44-year-old Nooshafarin Ravaghi, an ESL teacher at the jail, for allegedly providing Nayeri with a "Google earth-type image" printed out on paper and other tools that aided in the escape.
Ravaghi, who has provided information to investigators, denies she brought in any tools, Hallock said. Investigators believe she played a "significant" role in the escape. She's been arrested and charged with being an accessory to a felony.
Ravaghi's expected to be asked to enter a plea in court on Monday. Hallock said investigators are recommending she be held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Hallock said Ravaghi and Nayeri exchanged handwritten letters illustrating a close, personal relationship.
"I don't know if it was romantic, but it was more personal and closer than it should have been," he said.
There are questions about why Nayeri, who apparently spoke English, was attending Rayaghi's classes in the first place. She'd been teaching in the jail system for about 18 months.
Hallock said all contractors in the jail go through a background check and receive a three-hour course in how to interact with inmates — including lessons on how inmates may try to manipulate workers or extract information from them.
Ravaghi attended the course, Hallock said.
This story has been updated.