Inmates rappelled from roof to escape California jail

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3 Inmates Escape from California Jail

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Three inmates escaped from a Southern California maximum-security jail by cutting through half-inch steel bars and rappelling from the roof by a makeshift rope, authorities said Saturday as they continued hunting for the men, who include an alleged killer.

"It was very well-thought-out and planned," Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday at a news conference.

The inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. Friday at the Orange County Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They could have escaped any time between then and late Friday night.

"The inmates cut through half-inch steel bars to facilitate their escape," Hallock said.

They also cut through plumbing tunnels and finally made it to an unguarded area of the roof where they were able to rappel to the ground using some kind of makeshift rope, Hallock said.

They were last seen wearing orange jail jumpsuits, he said.

The inmates were seen at a 5 a.m. inmate count and were discovered missing at the 8 p.m. count, Hallock said.

Before the nighttime count, there was some kind of disturbance at the jail that may have been part of the escape plan, Hallock said.

It slightly delayed the discovery that the men were missing, he said.

Click through images from the infamous Alcatraz prison escape:

Alcatraz prison escape
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Inmates rappelled from roof to escape California jail
FILE - In this June 12, 1962, file photo, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay is shown the day three prisoners escaped. The men crawled through holes they'd cut in their cell walls, climbed to the roof and left on a raft fashioned from prison raincoats and rubber cement. They were never found; officials surmised they may have drowned before reaching shore. (AP Photo/File)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **An exhibit about a 1962 prison escape made famous in the movie, Escape from Alcatraz, is shown in the new cellhouse museum store on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 24, 2007. The former Federal penitentiary and visitor destination on San Francisco Bay, has just benefited from a multi-million dollar restoration and renovation that has transformed and improved the way visitors experience the iconic national park. The project has taken place over the past two years and has revamped the way that visitors experience "The Rock."(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A view of the lighthouse on Alcatraz Island, built in 1909 and is still functioning, is shown in San Francisco, Oct. 22, 2001. The sign in the foreground warns of prosecution and imprisonment for for hiding escaped prisoners of the prison. (AP Photo/Fred Seelig)
This is an aerial view of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay, shown June 12, 1962, the day three prisoners escaped. (AP Photo)
This is an aerial view of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay, shown June 12, 1962, the day three prisoners escaped. (AP Photo)
This is an aerial view of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay, shown June 12, 1962, the day three prisoners escaped. (AP Photo)
This is an aerial view of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco Bay, shown June 12, 1962. Three bank robbers are thought to have escaped using a crude raft or driftwood. (AP Photo)
A rifle grenade fired by a soldier at left explodes at an already shattered and pock marked window at the Federal Prison on Alcatraz Island where rioting prisoners are cornered after killing two guards and wounding 15, May 3, 1946. (AP Photo/Jack Rice)

Some "small pieces of evidence" have been collected and investigators will be looking at surveillance camera footage, Hallock said.

Earlier, Hallock said it was the first escape from the 900-inmate facility in at least the past 20 years and could be the first-ever breakout from the jail.

The inmates include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who had been held on a $1 million bond since October 2013 on charges of murder, attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. His case is believed to be gang-related.

Hossein Nayeri, 37, had been held without bond since September 2014 on charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary. Nayeri and three other men are accused of kidnapping a California marijuana dispensary owner in 2012. They drove the dispensary owner to a desert spot where they believed he had hidden money and then cut off his penis, authorities said.

After the crime, Nayeri fled the U.S. to his native Iran, where he remained for several months. He was arrested in Prague in November 2014 while changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family.

The third escaped inmate, 43-year-old Bac Duong, was being held without bond since last month on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and other charges.

It was unclear whether the men were armed but they should be considered very dangerous, Hallock said.

"I think the public should expect the worst if they're encountering them and call 911 and allow the professionals to respond," Hallock said.

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