SALINAS (CBS/AP) — Murder suspects Santos Fonseca and Jonathan Salazar dug a hole in a bathroom ceiling, wedged their way into a pipe-filled crawl space before escaping the Monterey County Jail, authorities said Monday.
Monterey Sheriff’s Department Capt. John Thornburg revealed the escape route used by Fonseca and Salazar at a noon news conference.
The inmates began their escape by digging a hole about 22 inches across into sheet rock and a metal screen in a bathroom ceiling of their jail housing unit, which they shared with nine other inmates. They then kicked open a hatch that led to the rear of the jail, accessing a construction area and fled the compound early Sunday morning.
“They were able to identify a blind spot (from security cameras) we have in this particular housing unit,” Thornburg told reporters.
The corner they chose could not be seen by correctional officers, Thornburg said.
Once through the hole, the pair climbed through piping and ducts, where some some areas were as narrow as 11 inches wide. They reached a hatch that led them outside the facility where the inmates discovered that what could’ve been another obstacle was actually missing.
”The hatch they got through opened to an area that was covered by construction fencing not security fencing,” said Thornburg.
The barbed wire at that particular area of the jail, he said, had been removed because of construction.
“During the search we did find some of their inmate clothing just outside the perimeter so we know they made it out of the jail,” said Undersheriff John Mineau.
“Maintenance crews are addressing it and making sure that that cannot happen again,” said Thornburg.
An intense manhunt across Northern and Central California continued Monday for Fonseca and Salazar.
“This is an active search for these two very dangerous individuals,” Thornburg said. “Both were in custody for homicide and other violent charges.”
Authorities said Fonseca, 21, and Salazar, 20, should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. A sheriff’s statement said that the pair had been in custody since 2018 and were awaiting trial on unrelated murder counts “along with numerous other felony charges.”
Thornburg said both men are from the Salinas area and have gang affiliations.
Fonseca faces two counts of first degree murder for the deaths of Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, on June 2, 2018 as well as the June 5, 2018 shooting of Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27.
Meanwhile, Salazar was arrested in the death of Jaime Martinez, 20, who was shot in Salinas October 2017 while driving in his car with his girlfriend and 18-month-old son.
The crimes were unrelated.
Both men are five-feet-seven-inches tall. Fonseca weighs 150 pounds and Salazar weighs 170 pounds. Each man has black hair and brown eyes with Salazar having the letter “P” tattooed on his face.
Anyone with information on the location of either man is asked to call the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office at (831) 755-3722 or 911.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. KPIX 5’s Maria Medina and The Associated Press contributed to this report