6 inmates escape from California jail using homemade rope

ByGilbert Magallon WPVI logo
Monday, January 11, 2021
Six inmates escape from Merced County Jail
The initial investigation shows the inmates were able to access the roof and use a homemade rope to slide down and escape.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. -- Authorities in California are searching for six inmates who accessed a 20-foot high roof and escaped from the Merced County Jail Saturday night.

"They used that makeshift rope out of braided sheets and were able to come down of the side of that building," says Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.

Warnke believes the escape happened around 11:30 p.m.

They didn't notice the inmates were gone until a routine morning headcount nearly eight hours later.

Warnke says certain protocols prohibit them from interrupting an inmate's sleep - which is why they didn't take notice sooner.

"We do have officers walking up and down the cell blocks, but we are no longer allowed to wake them up because they deemed it necessary for them to have a whole night's sleep," he said.

All escapees are men between the ages of 19 and 21. Many of them are facing several charges.

Jorge Barron, of Atwater, Calif., was incarcerated for violating his probation.

Gabriel Francis Coronado, also of Atwater, was in jail for attempted murder, along with Andres Nunez Rodriguez, of Planada, Calif.

Fabian Cruz Roman, of Los Banos, Calif., faces charges of murder.

Manuel Allen Leon, of Vallejo, Calif., was in jail for assault with a firearm.

Edgar Eduardo Ventura, of Portland, Oregon, faces charges of felon in possession of a firearm.

"Everyone should be on heightened alert when we have an escape," Warnke said.

Warnke says the dated jail facilities may have made it easier for them to escape. They are currently in the process of constructing another out in the county.

He adds they've been facing staffing shortages since 2009 due to state and county budget cuts.

Warnke says they're now trying to determine if any protocols were violated during the jailbreak.

Authorities say if you see any of the escapees, do not approach them as they are considered armed and dangerous.

Instead, you are urged to call your local law enforcement agency.