Eight inmates, including a convicted murderer and another man charged with murder, escaped from a county jail by cutting a hole in the roof, authorities said Monday.
Two inmates had been captured by Monday evening. Six remained at large and were considered dangerous, Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said.
The escape was discovered Sunday night when police saw two people in orange jumpsuits running near the jail, Murray said.
“We have a feeling that they have split up and went different ways from finding some of the jumpsuits throughout the city,” Murray said. He would not answer questions.
He told reporters the department was working on several leads, including searching an Albuquerque home and following up on a lead in Cactus, Texas.
Victor Apodaca was chased and captured soon after his escape. A tip led authorities to Raynaldo Enriquez, 19, not far away in Lubbock, Texas, said District Attorney Matt Chandler. Enriquez had been previously charged with aggravated burglary, robbery and assault and battery counts.
State Police Lt. Eric Garcia said motorists also were being stopped and questioned at roadblocks on the outskirts of the eastern New Mexico town. Federal agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, joined the investigation, the sheriff’s department said.
The inmates apparently had used handmade instruments to cut the hole in the roof near a skylight, Murray said. They gained access to the roof area by climbing up plumbing pipes in a narrow space behind the wall of a shower unit.
Murray said it appeared some in the group used an evergreen tree near the building to break their falls to reach street level.
Murray said he’s unsure whether any of the men may now have weapons.
“It’s unknown at this time,” he said. “They are dangerous individuals.”
One of the missing inmates was identified as Edward Salas, who was sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of a 10-year-old boy. Shots were fired through the child’s bedroom window as he slept.
Salas was being held at the jail awaiting transfer to state custody, authorities said.
Another escapee, Larry McClendon, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery in the January 2007 death of a store owner.
The other men at large include Victor Sotelo, 36, charged with aggravated assault; Javier Zapata, 19, aggravated assault, shooting at a motor vehicle and child abuse; Michael England, 29, tampering with evidence and being a felon in possession of a firearm; Louis Chavez, 18, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and extreme cruelty to animals.
Charges related to the escape have been filed against all eight inmates, officials said.
On July 15, a female inmate got out of the jail by hiding behind a food cart, the Clovis News Journal reported. She was caught seconds later after she was knocked down by a passing vehicle while trying to cross a street.
In 2006, an inmate slipped out a door and wasn’t missed for two days. That inmate was later captured.