Deputy US Marshal Describes Tense Manhunt for Escaped Inmates from Santa Clara County

One of the agents who helped capture two inmates who escaped from the Santa Clara County Main Jail last week is glad both fugitives are back behind bars.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area, Deputy US Marshal Joseph Palmer described the tense manhunt.

"Covertly, we evacuated all seven units beside the one the subject was in," Palmer said of tracking down Laron Campbell, one of the escaped inmates. "We did that for everybody's safety."

Both Campbell and Rogelio Chavez made national news on the night before Thanksgiving about 11 p.m., when they made a daring escape from the jail. They cut through the jail window bars in the oldest part of the jail, using bedsheets to rappel down their second-story jail cell window.

Once the call came in that two inmates had escaped from Santa Clara County, the manhunt became priority for US Marshals.

Campbell was traced to his sister's apartment in Antioch. Palmer said US Marshals and Antioch police surrounded the area late Tuesday.

Palmer said he and his crew called to Campbell through a PA system to come out.

"Mr. Campbell peeked through the blinds and saw us," Palmer said. "We started calling out commands, 'Come out, we know you're there.'"

One of the agents who helped capture two inmates who escaped from the Santa Clara County Main Jail last week is glad both fugitives are back behind bars. Rick Boone reports.

Three minutes later, the fugitive came out with his hands up.

Campbell had cut his hair, but Palmer said he also looked strange.

"We noticed he was covered in foam, or something to that extent," Palmer said.

Agents later figured out it was insulation foam from the attic where Campbell was momentarily hiding. The escaped inmate eventually fell from the attic, leaving a huge hole on the ceiling.

"We think what he did was he saw us in the front, saw us in the back, he went up there," Palmer said. "He's 6 foot 4, 230 pounds. I don't think it lasted that long. We think he came crashing through the ceiling. And that fall probably took most of the will out of him to fight."

The two inmates who broke out of the Santa Clara County Main Jail on Thanksgiving eve by cutting jail window bars and rappelling down with bedsheets now face additional charges after both were captured hiding in attics within 22 hours of each other. Bob Redell reports.

US Marshals also helped track down Chavez. Palmer said agents heard Chavez was trying to conceal his unmistakable face tattoo.

The second manhunt ended Wednesday night when Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies arrested Chavez, who was also hiding in an attic in a San Jose home.

"I'll tell you what, if I had a dollar for every person I pulled out of an attic or crawl space, I probably wouldn't be working in government anymore," Palmer said.

Both are now expected to be arraigned on new charges on Friday after the District Attorney can review the latest allegations.

Before the escape, Campbell had been held since February 2015 on various charges including robbery, false imprisonment, criminal threats and firearms violations.

And Chavez had been in jail since Aug. 17 on various charges including burglary, extortion, false imprisonment, resisting arrest, and firearms violations.

Massive Manhunt For Escaped Santa Clara County Jail Fugitives

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