MARINA (CBS SF) — A Monterey County Jail inmate made an escape from authorities for the second time this week after deputies found his motel room empty following a nearly 8 hour SWAT standoff in Marina Tuesday evening.
Captain John Thornburg with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday afternoon that authorities believed one of the escaped inmates was in a room at the Marina Motel 6.
Deputies surrounded the Motel 6 around 11:30 a.m. after they received a call from a motel employee that they reported spotting jail escapee 20-year-old Jonathan Salazar.
But after an intense night of using a loud speaker to try and make contact with Salazar, the sheriff’s office used a flash bang and a K-9 before the swat team stormed into room 235 — only to find it empty just before 7 p.m.
Inside the room, the television was still on and a small trash bin was emptied on the counter.
“We’ve searched the room and he is not here,” said Thornburg. “I’m confident nobody left the motel after we got here, so that time between them calling and us getting here he apparently did leave.”
“We have a strong belief that he was here, OK, from the witness or the person that called, the interviews we conducted,” said Thornburg. “It’s disappointing, I mean we’ve been out here for hours, and you know, people are waiting and we’re trying to do everything we can to locate this person along with the other gentleman and take him into custody.”
Monterey County Sheriff’s deputies and Marina police worked together to evacuate the motel and surrounding area including a Denny’s restaurant. Authorities asked the public to avoid the area while law enforcement was there.
Search for accused killer and jail escapee Jonathan Salazar turns up nothing at this Motel 6 in Marina. After hours of trying to making contact, a search of the room just min ago turned up empty. Investigators have “strong belief” he was here, but left before they arrived. pic.twitter.com/6LNthTHU4h
— Maria Medina (@MariaKPIX) November 6, 2019
Thornburg said they do not know if anybody was with the inmate at the time.
The escape from the county’s Adult Detention Facility occurred in the early morning, according to the sheriff’s office.
21-year-old Santos Fonseca and 20-year-old Jonathan Salazar had been in custody since 2018 and were awaiting trial on unrelated murder counts “along with numerous other felony charges,” a sheriff’s statement said.
The two inmates 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 Monday 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.”
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.
Anyone with information on the location of either man is asked to call the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office at (831) 755-3722.
KPIX 5’s Maria Medina contributed to this report.