3 jump off Latorraca roof, escape

Ceiling light removed, hole provides way out

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comApril 8, 2013 

The Merced County Sheriff's Department reported on Sunday afternoon that three inmates escaped from the John Latorraca Correctional Facility.

After conducting a routine head count at the jail's housing units on Saturday night, Merced County corrections officers learned of the escape of Brandon Joseph Crane, 29, Felipe Angel Lopez-Valle, 26, and Manuel Carreno Garcia, 25.

"The case is being investigated aggressively," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Delray Shelton. "The sheriff is taking a firm stance on the matter, and we will actively pursue these individuals until they are in custody."

Officials believe the inmates escaped about 10 Saturday night by moving a fluorescent light fixture in their housing unit and making a hole in the ceiling. Through the opening, they escaped onto the roof of the facility, jumped to the ground and scaled the security fence.

"The jail was never built to house high-risk felons," Shelton said. "It was built as a low-risk facility. But we will not tolerate these types of incidents."

Merced resident Crane is wanted on escape charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm, violation of parole and various other firearm-related charges. He is white with blond hair and blue eyes. He stands about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs roughly 170 pounds.

Riverbank resident Lopez-Valle is wanted for escape, deportation proceedings, resisting and obstructing arrest, receiving and possession of stolen property, vehicle theft and driving on a nonvalid license. He is Latino with black hair and brown eyes. He stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 216 pounds.

Merced resident Garcia is wanted for escape, deportation proceedings, assault with a deadly weapon and felony domestic violence. He is Latino with black hair and dark brown eyes. He stands at 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds.

Deputies are asking anyone with information to call the Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7445. Tips are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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