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The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is still trying to figure out how a burglary suspect escaped from the Santa Rita Jail on Monday afternoon, a sheriff’s spokesman said today. Sgt. J.D. Nelson said authorities are trying to determine if 57-year-old Jose Luis Gonzales Franco — who has since been recaptured — escaped because of human error or if there are problems with the buildings at the jail. Franco is only the fourth inmate to escape from Santa Rita since 1989, Nelson said.
He said that Franco, who is accused of committing a burglary in the 6400 block of International Boulevard in Oakland on Dec. 28, escaped as he and other inmates were returning to the jail by bus after making court appearances in Oakland on Monday. Franco got away when he and fellow minimum-security inmates were being taken from the bus to the jail’s booking area, according to Nelson. A jail employee spotted Franco leaving jail grounds around 2 p.m.
Sheriff’s deputies searched Dublin, San Ramon, Danville and other areas near the jail for about seven hours before a resident spotted Franco riding a bicycle in Dublin around 9:30 p.m., Nelson said. Dublin police found Franco at a gas station, but when they shined a spotlight on him he got back on the bike and tried to escape, Nelson said. He crashed along the center divide and tried to run away but was captured after a short chase, according to Nelson. Franco, who Nelson said uses many aliases, was still wearing his blue jail pants but had discarded a jail shirt with “Alameda County Jail” printed on it, Nelson said. In addition to the burglary charge for the Oakland incident, Franco could now face a theft charge in addition to the escape charge if turns out he stole the bicycle he was riding, Nelson said.
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