2 Juvenile Hall Escapees in Custody; 6 Still at Large

From United Press International

Two of eight gang members who beat up a pair of guards and escaped from a county juvenile facility in Downey were back in custody Sunday, one arrested by police and the other turning himself in after 12 hours of freedom, authorities said.

Shirley Gray, superintendent of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, said six other youths, one 16-year-old and five 17-year-olds, remained free. She said hall officials "had not confirmed" news reports that the youths were members of the Crips, the larger of Los Angeles' two major black street gangs.

Gray also said that she could "neither confirm nor deny" reports that one escapee had been classified by her staff as dangerous, another as an escape risk or that a third is a murder suspect. Officials said earlier that the eight gang members were being held "mainly on burglary and drug charges."

The escape, the first at the Downey center in more than a year, occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday when the youths overpowered and pummeled two guards, hit one over the head with a chair and then tied them up with sheets and locked them in a closet.

One 17-year-old returned voluntarily about 5 p.m. Saturday. It was not known what prompted his decision to return because he refused to talk to authorities without an attorney, Gray said.

The second was brought back to the hall about 4 a.m. Sunday by police officers. Gray said she could not reveal which agency had arrested him because it would jeopardize the search for the others.

The escapees were among 500 youths being held at the facility awaiting court appearances. Gray said the suspects would face additional counts of escape and assault on peace officers.

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