Suspected murderers make hole in ceiling to escape California jail

6 November 2019, 09:01 | Updated: 6 November 2019, 09:58

Two suspected murderers broke out of a Californian jail by crawling through a small hole they made in a bathroom ceiling.

Photos released by the Monterey County Sheriff's office showed the 22in (56cm) wide hole that Santos Fonseca, 21, and Jonathan Salazar, 20, escaped through on Sunday morning.

Police said the men had exploited a "blind spot" without guards at Monterey County Jail in Salinas, south of San Francisco.

The pair, who are both 5ft 7in (1.7m tall), crawled through the hole into a small crawl space just 11in (27cm) wide in parts, then out of a hatch into an area under construction without any razor wire.

Investigators are trying to find out if anyone helped the men.

"As far as help from inside, from employees absolutely not," Monterey Police's Captain John Thornburg said.

"As far as other inmates go, that's a big part of the investigation we're still working through."

Fonseca and Salazar were awaiting trial for separate murder charges and "numerous other felony charges", having been in custody since 2018.

Authorities have offered a $5,000 (£3,800) reward for information leading to the capture of the suspects.

They have also set up a tipline for local people to call if they see the suspects, who are considered armed and dangerous.

Both men are Hispanic and from Salinas.

Fonseca, who is 150lbs (68kg), is accused of shooting dead two men last June.

Lorenzo Gomez Acosta, 37, was shot while in his car on a video call with his wife in Mexico, local media said.

He told police his gang leader told him to kill someone to prove he was still loyal to the "Boranda gang", with Acosta chosen at random.

Fonseca is also accused of shooting dead Ernesto Garcia Cruz, 27, three days later in a park, again telling police the gang leader ordered the killing.

Salazar is accused of shooting dead Jaime Martinez, 20, as the victim drove in Salinas with his girlfriend, who was shot and injured, and their 18-month-old son, the newspaper reported.