SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — When Dang Nguyen saw a photo of San Quentin Prison escapee Shalom Mendoza, a chill went through her body. She had seen him before in a terrifying confrontation in a Home Depot parking lot.
Mendoza walked away from the outgrounds support facility at San Quentin State Prison sometime on Monday. His absence was discovered during an institutional count at 9:35 p.m.
The 21-year-old allegedly went to the Home Depot located about a mile from the prison. He approached Nguyen in the parking lot and simulated what looked like a weapon or a gun through his t-shirt. He demanded the keys to her Toyota Rav4 and drove away.
When she saw the media coverage with the escapee’s photo, Nguyen realized who had victimized her.
“I saw his picture and thought, ‘Thats him’ and I just said, ‘oh my God. That’s a dangerous prisoner. How can they escape from San Quentin?’” she told KPIX 5.
The crime was also captured by store security cameras.
“He come to me and then he say, give me the key, I need your car,” said Nguyen recounting the confrontation for KPIX 5. “I said ‘What?’ He said — ‘Give me the key, I have a gun, If not, I’m going to kill you.'”
So she handed him her keys, and then did some fast-thinking, grabbing her cell phone from the driver’s seat and begged him to leave behind her 9-year-old Chihuahua.
“I asked him to return my dog,” she said. “He stepped out and I grabbed the dog.”
Once Mendoza had fled, Nguyen ran into the store for help.
“He seemed to be hurried and scared, I think,” she said.
Mendoza remained at large on Friday. He was incarcerated after being sentenced to 5 years in prison for using a deadly weapon during a carjacking/attempted carjacking and evading or attempting to evade peace officers while driving recklessly in Los Angeles County in December 2017. He arrived at San Quentin on April 28.
When last seen, Mendoza was wearing a white t-shirt and khaki or light-yellow pants. He is described as being a Hispanic male adult standing approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 170 pounds.
Police were asking the public to be on the lookout for a Toyota Rav4 with a California license plate 6STZ502. If you see Mendoza or know where he is at, you are asked to call 911 or Lt. Samuel Robinson said at (415) 455-5000.