(YAKIMA, Wash.) — A manhunt is on in the state of Washington for six of 14 inmates who escaped from a county jail amid a coronavirus stay-at-home order from the governor, officials said.
The inmates broke out of the Yakima County Jail on Monday evening by using a table to break down an exit door and then scaling a fence, according to Yakima County Sheriff Robert Udell.
Video of the jail break amidst the global pandemic was posted on Facebook by a witness and showed the inmates jumping the fence surrounding the downtown Yakima jail and running in all directions. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that eight of the inmates were captured almost immediately, including one who was detained by a firefighter.
In a Facebook video statement, Udell asked for the public’s help in finding the escapees.
“About 7 o’clock, several inmates, in excess of 12, decided that they were no longer going to be housed in the Yakima County Jail and they decided to break down a door and leave,” Udell said. “Despite the governor’s shelter-in-place, or stay-at-home order, well, they didn’t want to do that. So they are out and about and we need your help to get these guys back in custody.”
Sheriff’s officials said the escapees are all alleged low-level offenders. According to the Yakima County Jail online inmate roster, two of the escapees were being held on charges of possessing unlicensed firearms, one was in for assault and motor vehicle theft, one had been charged with assault and violation of a domestic violence restraining order, one had been charged with reckless driving, and one was at the jail on a U.S. Marshals’ hold order.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered the state’s more than 7 million residents to stay home unless they are essential workers to blunt the spread of COVID-19, which has killed nearly 600 people in the United States and has infected more than 46,000.
The state of Washington has been especially hard hit by the virus with 110 deaths and more than 2,200 people infected, according to state health officials.
Inslee said the stay-at-home order will remain in place through April 6 and expands actions he took last week in which he banned large gatherings, ordered the statewide closure of bars, dine-in restaurants, and entertainment and recreation venues. The stay-at-home order and other restrictions in Washington are similar to what other states, including California and New York, have enacted.
“This is a human tragedy on a scale we cannot yet project. It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight,” Inslee said during a televised address on Monday.
The sheriff’s office released a photograph of the type of jail clothes the suspects were wearing when they escaped. In his video statement, Udell showed mugshots of the six escapees still at large and asked for the public’s help in finding them.
He noted that one of the escapees, Tyrone Adam Mulvaney, 34, who was being held for allegedly obstructing a law enforcement officer, might be easy to spot because of a “nice marijuana tattoo on his face.”
“If you see that tattoo, give us a call,” Udell said. “Help us get these guys back in the Yakima County jail where they’ll be safe.”
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