One of the two murder suspects who broke out of a California Jail over the weekend by escaping through a two-foot wide hole they made in their bathroom ceiling was reportedly spotted at a motel on Tuesday, but managed to vanish before police arrived.
Santos Fonseca, 21, and Jonathan Salazar, 20, escaped from the Monterey County Jail in Salinas in the early hours of Sunday, but yesterday, Salazar was seen entering a room at Motel 6, located in the neighboring town of Marina, just eight miles away.
After eight hours of authorities attempting to make contact with the escapee, a SWAT team deployed a flash grenade and a K9 unit to raid what turned out to be an empty motel room.
Though there was no sign of Salazar, the television was still on and a small trash bin was emptied on the counter. Police say they don’t know if anyone else was with the inmate beforehand.
Santos Fonseca (right), 21, and Jonathan Salazar (left), 20, escaped from the Monterey County Jail in Salinas, Northern California in the early hours of Sunday after creating a tiny escape hatch in the showering area of their prison block
Yesterday, Salazar was traced to a room inside Motel 6, located in the town of Marina, more than 100 miles outside of San Francisco
Though there was no sign of Salazar, the television was still on and a small trash bin was emptied on the counter. Police say they don’t know if anyone else was with the inmate beforehand
Deputies responded to the motel room at 11:30 am yesterday, after an employee at the motel dialed 911 to report Salazar was staying at the premises.
Just under 48 hours earlier, Salazar and Fonseca managed to escape through a hole in the roof of their cell’s bathroom at the Adult Detention Facility in the neighboring town of Salinas. Both of the men had been jailed since 2018 and were awaiting trial on unrelated murder counts.
‘We’ve searched the room and he is not here,’ Capt. John Thornburg of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office told KPIX-TV. ‘I’m confident nobody left the motel after we got here, so that time between them calling and us getting here he apparently did leave.’
‘We have a strong belief that he was here, OK, from the witness or the person that called, the interviews we conducted,’ he continued. ‘It’s disappointing. I mean, we’ve been out here for hours, and, you know, people are waiting and we’re trying to do everything we can to locate this person along with the other gentleman and take him into custody.’
Authorities evacuated the motel and a nearby restaurant while attempting to make contact with Salazar through the use of a loud speaker for eight hours.
Police SWAT were deployed to the scene by 6pm and used a bullhorn to call out in both English and Spanish for ‘All occupants of Room 235, come out with your hands up.’
Police SWAT were deployed to the scene by 6pm and used a bullhorn to call out in both English and Spanish for ‘All occupants of Room 235, come out with your hands up’
Just under 48 hours earlier, Salazar and Fonseca managed to escape through a hole in the roof of their cell’s bathroom at the Monterey County Jail (above) in the neighboring town of Salinas. Both of the men had been jailed since 2018 and were awaiting trial on unrelated murder counts
An hour later the flash bang was used and the room found empty. A police K9 unit searched the rest of the building but the search yielded no suspects.
On Monday, the Monterey Country Sheriff’s Office released a series of photographs that show how the pair pulled off the prison break – which began when they made the small hole in their block’s bathroom ceiling.
Sheriff’s Captain John Thornburg said Fonseca and Salazar took advantage of a surveillance ‘blind spot’ in the showering area and managed to squeeze through the tiny opening they had created – measuring just 22 inches in width.
After entering the ceiling, the pair crept through a 14-inch wall space and maneuvered past ducts and pipes in a maintenance access area until they reached a hatch.
The pair ‘kicked open’ the hatch and made it to an outdoor area covered in construction fencing before fleeing the prison’s grounds.
Investigators have not yet determined how long they worked on making the hole or if anyone else helped them escape. They were first reported missing at 8:15 am on Sunday.
Both Fonseca and Salazar remain on the run as of Wednesday morning.
The pair had created a hole measuring eight inches tall and 22 inches wide (pictured) in the guards’ blind spot and then slipped into the walls of the jail, authorities said
Fonseca and Salazr took advantage of a surveillance ‘blind spot’ in the showering area, where they managed to squeeze through the tiny opening – measuring just 22 inches in width (pictured)
After entering the ceiling, the pair crept through a 14-inch wall space and maneuvered past ducts and pipes in a maintenance access area
The pair then kicked through this escape hatch before running to freedom
Fonseca and Salazar had been behind bars since last year and were awaiting trial on murder counts and ‘numerous other felony charges’ in separate cases, authorities said.
Fonseca is accused of shooting Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, in June last year while the victim sat in his car on a video call with his wife, the Californian reported.
The wife saw a scuffle, heard her husband screaming ‘no’ and then gunshots rang out, Salinas police Officer Froylan Aranda testified at a preliminary hearing in March.
Fonseca told police his gang leader told him to kill someone to prove he was still loyal to the ‘Boronda gang,’ Detective Gabriela Contreras said.
Acosta was reportedly chosen at random.
Three days later, Fonseca allegedly shot and killed Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27, in a Salinas park. He told police that the gang leader also ordered the slaying and that he picked his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend ‘to send him a message,’ Contreras said.
Salazar was arrested in relation to the death of Jaime Martinez, 20, who was shot as he drove in Salinas with his girlfriend and 18-month-old son.
Officers said at Salazar’s preliminary hearing earlier this year that his tattoos, including the letter P on his cheek, refer to his Sureno offshoot gang, La Posada Trece. His trial was scheduled to begin in January.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the fugitives’ arrests.