Citizen's tip led to capture of two escapees, police say
Hossein Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu in custody of San Francisco police
The duo and a third man escaped from a Santa Ana jail on January 22
The two remaining fugitives from a California jailbreak last week are in custody, law enforcement officials said.
Hossein Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu were captured Saturday morning after a citizen in San Francisco alerted police officers that he had seen a stolen white van that the two escapees were using, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told reporters.
San Francisco police said the individual told officers near the Park District Station that he had seen a man who looked like one of the suspects – Nayeri, as it turned out. Police officers soon saw Nayeri, who sprinted away. He didn’t get far before he was caught.
The van, with Tieu hiding inside, was found at a nearby Whole Foods.
Hutchens told reporters there were .380-caliber rounds found in the van but neither fugitive had a weapon. She said her investigators from Southern California were in San Francisco to interview the escapees.
Detectives are trying to determine whether anyone helped the pair and another man in the eight days since they escaped.
The third escapee, Bac Tien Duong, 43, had been taken into custody in Santa Ana on Friday morning after he asked a worker at an auto parts store to call police.
The trio likely broke out of a maximum-security jail in Santa Ana after a 5 a.m. headcount January 22, but it wasn’t until more than 15 hours later that authorities discovered the sophisticated escape.
The inmates used tools to cut through security bars in a plumbing tunnel and into air vents. They also apparently used sheets braided into ropes to rappel down four to five stories – about 50 feet – from the roof of the jail.
It was the first time anyone had escaped from the jail since 1988.
Tieu, 20, was in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge and attempted murder in an allegedly gang-related attack. Authorities say he is a member of a Vietnamese gang.
Nayeri, 37, has been accused of kidnapping and attacking a man, pouring bleach on him, setting the victim on fire, severing his penis and leaving him to die in the desert, authorities have said. The man survived.
Duong was to be tried on an attempted murder charge.
Each has pleaded not guilty.
Back to same jail
Hutchens said the men will again be housed in the Central Men’s Jail but will be in a more secure unit.
“I can tell you they won’t be together,” she added.
A woman who taught classes in English as a second language at the jail was arrested Thursday in connection with the escape.
Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, will face a charge of being an accessory to a felony, Hallock said. It is unclear whether Navaghi has an attorney.
She has denied giving the escapees tools, but has admitted giving a Google Earth image, on paper, showing the area around the jail complex, to Nayeri, according to Hallock.
Authorities had offered a $200,000 reward for information leading to the fugitives’ capture. Hutchens said she believes the witness in San Francisco deserves at least some of the reward money.
“This is an excellent example of how the public can help SFPD keep this city safe,” San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said. “A citizen saw someone suspicious, notified an officer, which ultimately led to the apprehension of two armed and dangerous criminals.”
Orange County Sheriff Lt. Jeff Hallock said Friday that Nayeri and Tieu were spotted in San Jose a day earlier and authorities believed they were in a stolen white van. San Jose is about a 6½-hour drive from Santa Ana.
CNN’s Carma Hassan and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.