Murder suspects cut hole in jail’s bathroom ceiling to escape, sheriff’s official says
Two murder suspects who escaped from a Monterey County jail over the weekend shimmied through a 22-inch hole cut in a bathroom ceiling in a spot out of sight from deputies, authorities said.
Officials have not yet found the suspects — Santos Samuel Fonseca, 21, and Jonathan Salazar, 20, — who were awaiting trial on murder charges, but authorities revealed how the inmates managed to escape.
“It turns out the two individuals were able to identify a blind spot we have in this particular housing unit, which is what they were able to exploit,” Capt. Jonathan Thornburg, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said at a news conference Monday.
The pair cut through drywall and a metal screen to make the hole and then crawled into the space, which is used by maintenance workers, according to Thornburg.
“It appears they went up the ceiling, up over the wall and down the other side” before crawling through a hatch to reach the rear side of the facility, Thornburg said.
The back of the jail is surrounded by construction fencing, not barbed wire, like the rest of the building, he said.
Thornburg said officials don’t know what tools they used to cut the hole in the ceiling and they are investigating whether other inmates helped Fonseca and Salazar.
“We’re disappointed that it happened,” Thornburg said. “We’re charged with protecting the public. We’re disappointed that there are people charged with homicide who are no longer in our jail.”
Both men had been in custody since last year in connection with separate slayings in Salinas.
Fonseca was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in a pair of shootings that occurred four days apart and killed Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, and Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27. Acosta was talking to his wife, who was in Mexico, on the phone when he was gunned down in his car in Salinas. Cruz was killed in El Dorado Park, the Salinas Californian reported.
Salazar was charged in the death of Jaime Martinez, 20, who was shot in October 2017 while driving with his girlfriend and young son, the newspaper reported.
Salazar and Fonseca have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are scheduled to go to trial next year, court records show.
Sheriff’s officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to their capture. Fonseca is 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds; Salazar is 5 feet 7 inches and 170 pounds. They both have black hair and brown eyes.
Authorities are encouraging anyone who sees the men to call 911 and not to approach them. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (831) 755-3722.
Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.
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