Before they were caught this week, three Orange County jail escapees managed to drive to Northern California in a stolen white van and check into a motel in San Jose, authorities and witnesses say.
Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong checked into the Alameda Motel in the 100 block of The Alameda on Tuesday, according to the motel manager, who asked that his name not be used.
The men asked for a smoking room and pre-paid $200 in cash for two nights, he said.
They checked into Room 14, an 18-by-12-foot room with one twin bed and one full-size bed, the manager said. The spartan room included a child-size closet, a tiny refrigerator and an RCA TV. The one window faced the motel parking lot.
At one time during their stay, the manager said he saw the "oldest guy," later identified as Duong, 43, washing a white van in the parking lot, he said. The 2008 GMC van was stolen Jan. 23, the day after the men escaped, in South Los Angeles, authorities said.
The motel manager said he told Duong that he could not wash his vehicle in the parking lot and he immediately stopped.
At 11 a.m. Thursday, checkout time, the manager said he went to Room 14 to tell the men it was time to leave.
He said he knocked on the door and there was no answer. When he opened the door, he discovered that the men were gone.
Just before noon Friday, after a week on the run, Duong, who had made his way back to Santa Ana, surrendered to local authorities.
At about 3 p.m. Friday, the manager said, San Jose police showed up at the Alameda Motel and showed him mug shots of the three escapees, whom he recognized and identified.
"I just can't believe it," the manager told a Times reporter Saturday. "There are crazy things going on in life. But these guys were quiet, nice and no drama."
He said it was no surprise that they were well-behaved during their stay.
"Of course, they're not going to do nothing," he said.
Nayeri, 37, and Tieu, 20, were arrested in San Francisco early Saturday after a man noticed the GMC van in a Whole Foods Market parking lot near the entrance to Golden Gate Park in the Haight Ashbury district, authorities said.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said the man alerted police officers, who were nearby handling an unrelated medical call. Authorities originally reported that a woman had alerted police.
The officers approached the van, and one of the escapees, Nayeri, ran out, she said. Police chased and quickly arrested him. When the officers went back to the van, they found the second suspect, Tieu, hiding inside.
The men were taken into custody around 8:50 a.m. near Haight and Stanyan streets.
Hutchens said police recovered ammunition but no weapons inside the van. The pair were taken to the San Francisco police's Park Station and will eventually be moved to the city jail.
"I can say this morning that the entire state can breathe a sigh of relief," the sheriff said at a noon news conference.
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