An armed fugitive from the Merced County Jail surrendered to SWAT team officers in Gilroy early this morning after authorities tracked him to a hotel room in the city, a Gilroy police spokesman said. The Gilroy/Morgan Hill SWAT Team took Jason Grant Hunwarsden, 32, into custody at about 12:10 a.m. and turned him over to deputies from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Gilroy police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said.
Hunwarsden, facing a sentence of more than 20 years in prison after being convicted recently of multiple felonies involving domestic violence and the use of a weapon, escaped from the county jail in Merced early Monday morning, Espinoza said. Merced County sheriff’s deputies contacted Gilroy police at 5:30 p.m. Monday to report that Hunwarsden might be hiding in Gilroy, according to Espinoza.
Investigators developed evidence that Hunwarsden was holed up in a hotel in the 8000 block of Monterey Street in Gilroy, about a quarter-mile west of U.S. Highway 101, police said. Gilroy police, because of Hunwarsden’s violent criminal history and the fact that he had escaped from jail, deployed the SWAT Team and a hostage negotiation team, police said. Officers contacted Hunwarsden by phone in his room, then hailed him from outside the room to come out. The suspect then surrendered without incident, Espinoza said. Hunwarsden may have escaped the Merced County Jail through a roof hatch over his cell, according to Espinoza.
Police believe that he was then aided in his escape to Gilroy, Espinoza said. “Someone had to have dropped him off,” he said. A third party also furnished Hunwarsden with a semiautomatic handgun and arranged for his hotel room, which was not registered to him, according to Espinoza. Police are seeking the person who may have registered the hotel room for Hunwarsden, Espinoza said.
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