Authorities said two gang-related murder suspects, considered dangerous, escaped early Sunday from a central California jail through a hole less than two feet wide, according to reports.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said the inmates managed to take advantage of a blind spot in the housing unit surveillance, as Fox 2 reported.
The jail in Salinas, a farming city of about 160,000 people roughly 100 miles south of San Francisco, is surrounded by barbed wire; authorities told the news outlet that the inmates escaped through a hatch in an construction area where there isn’t any barbed wire.
Santos Fonseca, 21, and Jonathan Salazar, 20, had been jailed since 2018, and were awaiting trial on unrelated murder counts “along with numerous other felony charges,” a sheriff’s statement said.
Fonseca was being held on two counts of murder and attempted robbery on a $2.25 million bail, Fox 2 reported.
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Fonseca is accused of shooting Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, to death on June 2, 2018, the Californian newspaper in Salinas reported. Fonseca told police that his gang leader told him to kill someone to prove his loyalty to the “Boronda gang,” Detective Gabriela Contreras testified. Acosta was reportedly chosen at random.
Three days later, Fonseca shot and killed Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27, in a Salinas park, authorities said. He told police that his gang leader also ordered the murder, and that he picked his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend “to send him a message,” Contreras said, according to the newspaper.
Salazar was arrested in the shooting death of 20-year-old Jaime Martinez; police investigated the Oct. 12, 2017, shooting as gang-related.
Officers said at Salazar’s preliminary hearing earlier this year that his tattoos, including the letter P on his cheek, refer to his Sureño offshoot gang, La Posada Trece, the Californian reported.
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The sheriff’s office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the fugitives’ arrests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.