Police appeal to Vietnamese community in hunt for California escapees

Police in Southern California appealed to the Vietnamese community on Monday to come forward with any information about three dangerous men who are on the loose after an audacious jailbreak.

Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, slipped away early on Friday after cutting through steel plate and using plumbing tunnels to elude guards before rappelling from a roof at the central men’s jail in Orange County.

All three are violent criminals, police said. At least one, Tieu, is a documented member of a Vietnamese street gang and had been in custody accused of murder.

“We know that in some of the local communities, specifically the Vietnamese community, there is fear that exists about these individuals,” said Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Sawyer.

He told a news conference that he would not give Tieu’s gang the pleasure of hearing him say its name.

“I’m just here to tell you that we have taken an extremely proactive approach to … putting the pressure on his gang, to let them know that we are here to find him,” Sawyer said.

Members of the public can call the authorities anonymously and a sheriff’s deputy who speaks Vietnamese relayed the same message for the cameras. A $50,000 reward is offered for information leading to the inmates’ capture.

Duong is an “associate” of a Vietnamese gang, Sawyer said, and was in custody for attempted murder. Nayeri has a conviction for homicide and is accused in a kidnapping and torture case.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said the three cut through half-inch steel plate before making it to the roof. It was not clear how they obtained the necessary tools.

“All I’m going to say is that there were about four to five different breaches of metal, iron, steel, that type of thing,” Hallock said.

A disturbance in the jail during which a deputy was assaulted may have been concocted to delay an inmate count and buy them time, he said.

“This was a well planned, well thought out escape,” Hallock said. He said there was a “strong possibility” Tieu may have made contact with fellow gang members.

“We absolutely need the public’s help,” he said. “We know that somebody out there knows something.”

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; editing by Grant McCool)

comments powered by Disqus