Two men who escaped a Southern California jail last week are believed to be in Northern California and driving the same van they stole when they made their brazen escape, authorities said Friday.
Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, are still on the loose, while Bac Duong, 43, is in custody after turning himself in on Friday. Duong broke off from the other two men, went to a Southern California body shop where his friend works and had her call police.
Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Hallock said Duong is in custody and is cooperating with authorities. The two fugitives are believed to be in San Jose and could be on their way to Fresno, Hallock said.
Stolen Vehicle ACTUAL 2008 White GMC Savana Utility Lic: 8U66466 plates/stickers may have been removed pic.twitter.com/MASIlWnYxe
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSD) January 29, 2016
“If they are watching, we want them to understand that we are pressing forward, and we are coming after them,” Hallock said at a news conference, addressing the escapees directly for the first time. “We will take you back into custody.”
Duong was arrested in Santa Ana, where the trio escaped on Jan. 22 from the maximum security facility, authorities said. It’s unclear how he got back to Southern California from San Jose, but Duong contacted a woman he knew at the auto electric repair shop early Friday just a few miles from the jail, authorities and witnesses said.
Two law enforcement sources told Fox News that Duong told police when he was taken into custody that a gang with which he was associated threatened to kill him if he did not surrender.
Lee Tran, whose family owns Auto Electric Rebuilders, said Duong came to the shop looking for Tran’s sister, Theresa, and told her that he wanted to surrender.
“He was scared for his life, pretty much,” Tran said. “That’s why he asked one of our people to turn him in.”
Tran said his sister called 911, and Duong stayed outside until authorities came.
“She was crying her head off,” said Trach Tran, her father, who was also there. “Everybody was scared.”
Lee Tran said his sister’s boyfriend knows Duong, and federal authorities had come by to speak with her earlier this week because she might have visited Duong in jail.
All three men had been awaiting trial for separate violent crimes at the Central Man’s Jail. They were held in a dormitory with about 65 other men in the jail, 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The men escaped after cutting a hole in a metal grade then crawling through plumbing tunnels and onto the roof of a four-story jail building. They pushed aside barbed wire and rappelled down a rope made of bed linen. It took 16 hours for staff to realize the men were gone.
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.
Ravaghi and Nayeri also exchanged “personal and close” handwritten letters, but Hallock could not say if the two were romantically involved.
“It wasn’t the relationship that you would expect between a teacher and an inmate in a custody setting,” he said.
Duong, a native of Vietnam, has been held since last month on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
It was the first escape in nearly three decades from the California facility built in 1968 that holds 900 men.
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.
Fox News’ Adam Housley and the Associated Press contributed to this report.