Tip About Van Led to Arrest of Escapees in San Francisco

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -
A Orange County Law enforcement agent points his gun inside a container while conducting a search for additional suspects at the back
A Orange County law enforcement agent points his gun inside a container while conducting a search for additional suspects at the back of an auto electric shop garage in Santa Ana, Calif., on Friday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A tip from an observant woman led San Francisco police to catch two escaped inmates who had been on the run for more than a week, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said.

San Francisco police were responding about 8:50 a.m. Saturday to an unrelated call when a woman said she saw a parked white van that looked like the one authorities said the fugitives had stolen, Hutchens said during a news conference.

As officers approached the van, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri started running. He was caught after a short chase.

Officers then went back to the van and found 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu hiding, the sheriff said. Police found ammunition but no gun in the van.

Authorities had been hunting for Tieu, Nayeri and a third inmate, 43-year-old Bac Duong, in Southern California since they pulled off a brazen jail escape Jan. 22.

On Friday, Duong walked into an auto repair shop and said he wanted to surrender. He told investigators he had last seen the other two inmates Thursday afternoon in San Jose, shifting the manhunt 400 miles to the north.

The three men had all been jailed and were awaiting trial on charges for separate violent crimes. They were held in a dormitory with about 65 other men in a jail about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The men escaped in the early morning hours after cutting a hole in a metal grate, then crawling through plumbing tunnels and onto the roof of a four-story jail building. They pushed aside barbed wire and rappelled down using a rope made of bed linen.

It took jail staff 16 hours to realize the three men were missing. It was the first escape in nearly three decades from the Central Men’s Jail, built in 1968, that holds 900 men.

On Thursday, authorities arrested a woman who taught English inside the jail. Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, gave Nayeri a paper copy of a Google Earth map that showed an aerial view of the entire jail compound, Hallock said.

She was booked on suspicion of being an accessory to a felony and was being held pending a court appearance set for Monday. It wasn’t clear if she had a lawyer.

Duong, a native of Vietnam, has been held since last month on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Tieu is charged with murder and attempted murder in a 2011 gang shooting. Nayeri had been held without bond since September 2014 on charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary.