Agents apprehended an inmate at a fast-food restaurant in Paso Robles days after he walked away from the San Quentin State Prison and carjacked somebody at a Home Depot, officials announced Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said 21-year-old Shalom Mendoza might be heading to the L.A. area. Around 12:30 p.m., a civilian saw him at a Taco Bell in Paso Robles and contacted the Department of Corrections.
Agents managed to take him into custody without incident, the agency said.
Mendoza was reported missing during an evening count at San Quentin on Dec. 26.
“He was assigned to work outside the secured perimeter of the prison, as many inmates are, and he took advantage of an opportunity to leave,” a statement from the Department of Corrections said.
The Northern California facility, California’s oldest state prison, houses more than 4,200 inmates.
According to the Department of Corrections, Mendoza was spotted at a Dollar Store in the city of San Miguel in San Luis Obispo County around 4:20 p.m. on Friday. He bought dark clothing and was no longer wearing his prison uniform, the agency said.
Investigators said Mendoza forcefully took someone’s Toyota RAV4 at a Home Depot parking lot near the prison. That vehicle was discovered abandoned north of Paso Robles off the 101 Freeway on Friday, authorities said.
Mendoza had been serving a five-year sentence for using a deadly weapon during a carjacking or attempted carjacking and evading or attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly. He arrived at San Quentin from L.A. County in December 2017.
Authorities had said Mendoza was dangerous and urged anyone who saw him to call 911 right away.
They previously described him as a Hispanic man with short brown hair and brown eyes about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing around 177 pounds.
The Department of Corrections released his booking photo, where he’s seen with a tattoo above his right eyebrow and on his neck.