One of the three inmates who had escaped from the Orange County Men’s Central Jail was taken into custody after turning himself in on Friday, and the search for the two other missing men turned to Northern and possibly Central California.
Bac Duong, 43, was back in custody one week after he and two other inmates, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri and 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, broke out of the facility, Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna first confirmed to KTLA.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said at a news conference shortly after 12 p.m. that Duong contacted a civilian in Santa Ana and told the person he wanted to turn himself in.
Investigators believe the remaining two escaped inmates may be together in the San Jose area in a white van, Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jeff Hallock said at an early evening news conference. As recently as Thursday morning or afternoon they were there, and may be headed for the Fresno area, where Nayeri was believed to have an associate, he said.
“At some point, the three of them were together in the San Jose area,” Hallock said.
The manager of the Alameda Motel in San Jose told San Francisco television station KRON that Tieu checked into the motel on Tuesday evening and checked out Thursday morning.
He also told the station he saw a white van.
Investigators with the San Jose Police Department were later able to confirm that both Tieu and Nayeri stayed at the motel, KRON reported.
Duong returned to Santa Ana and surrendered. He was cooperating with investigators, Hallock said.
Duong walked into Auto Electric Rebuilders, a business in the 1400 block of North Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana, and spoke to the store’s co-owner, whom he knows, before noon Friday.
“He just showed up, and he told my wife that he want to turn (himself) in,” said Tri Nguyen, an acquaintance of Duong.
Nguyen’s wife called police. The store’s other co-owner, Lee Tran, told reporters that Duong was “scared for his life, pretty much.”
Shortly afterward, deputies were seen searching the surrounding area and were going door to door at a nearby motel.
At one point, deputies had their firearms trained on storage lockers, but they did not appear to find anything there after a search.
The Sheriff’s Department posted grainy cellphone video on its YouTube page of Duong being escorted back into sheriff’s headquarters.
Prior to his escape, Duong had been held at the Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana in connection with a Nov. 18, 2015, incident, in which he is accused of shooting someone during an argument, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
He had a number of charges against him, including felony counts of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, first degree residential burglary and shooting at an inhabiting dwelling or house, a news release from the DA’s office said.
The Santa Ana Police Department was investigating the case.
Duong also faced sentencing enhancements for prior convictions, including first degree burglary in 1995, second degree burglary in 2007, reckless evading of a peace officer in 2008 and possession for a sale of controlled substance in 2011.
He had been in jail for the latest charge since December 2015, and was ineligible for bail due to an immigration hold, Hutchens said.
Duong, along with Nayeri and Tieu, had been charged on Monday with one felony count of escape from pending felony charges, the DA’s office said.
Less than two hours before Duong’s capture was announced, Hallock said authorities felt “very strongly” that the escapees, considered armed and dangerous, were still in the Southern California area. Later in the day, Hallock said Duong had been with the other men in San Jose.
“They’re obviously mobile. They made it to San Jose in a short period of time,” Hallock said.
They were believed to be driving a 2008 white GMC Savana utility van that was reported stolen from South Los Angeles on Jan. 23, the day after the elaborate escape.
Duong stole the van from a private party, sheriff’s officials said.
The van was believed to have paper plates, but not ones that Hallock described Thursday as being from Felix Chevrolet, he said.
The trio used tools to cut through steel bars, made their way through plumbing tunnels, and used a rope to rappel down the side of the building from the jail’s roof.
“We are coming after you … and we will take you back into custody,” Hallock said to Nayeri and Tieu.