Gillian Flaccus ?and Olga R. Rodriguez
SANTA ANA, CALIF.: After a week of SWAT raids and a gang dragnet, it was a simple tip from an observant citizen that led police to the two remaining inmates who broke out of a California jail eight days ago using a Google Earth map and a rope made of bed linens.
A citizen flagged down officers near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park just before 9 a.m. Saturday and pointed out a parked white van that looked like one believed to be stolen by three inmates during the brazen escape, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said at a news conference.
The tipster also said a person who looked like one of the fugitives was in the area.
As police approached the van, Hossein Nayeri — whom officials have called the probable mastermind — was captured after a short foot chase. Police discovered the second fugitive, 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, hiding in the van with ammunition, but no gun, she said.
“I think I did a big ‘Whoop!’ in the air,” Hutchens said, adding that she was elated. “No sheriff wants to have an escape, especially as dangerous as these individuals were. My fear was that someone in the community was going to get hurt because they really had nothing to lose in my mind.”
A third inmate, Bac Duong, 43, surrendered Friday after walking into an auto repair shop in Santa Ana just a few miles from the jail where the three had been housed.
The men had been awaiting trial on separate violent felony charges, including murder, attempted murder, torture and kidnapping.
Duong and Tieu have ties to street gangs that operate in the shadows of Orange County’s thriving Vietnamese community.
Authorities still don’t know the answers to a number of questions about the escape, including how the inmates got their hands on the sharp cutting tools necessary to hack their way through jail walls, where they had been hiding, and how Duong got back to Santa Ana after parting ways with the others.
The three inmates were housed together in a large module that held 65 other men, about half of whom were in custody for violent felonies.
On Thursday, authorities arrested a woman who taught English at the jail. Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, gave Nayeri a paper copy of a Google Earth map that showed an aerial view of the entire jail compound, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said.