Inmate caught after escaping Santa Rita Jail

Alameda County sheriff's deputies are looking for Jose Luis Gonzalez Franco, an inmate that escaped from the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

January 10, 2012 12:03:27 AM PST
A seven-hour search came to an end Monday when an escaped inmate turned up in an area police never suspected.

Jose Luis Gonzales-Franco, 57, facing burglary charges escaped from the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin Monday afternoon. He managed to elude authorities all day and into the night, but he could not get away.

Franco is back in jail, but not after enjoying about seven hours of freedom until a citizen spotted him riding down the street on a bicycle in his prison clothes. He was escorted back to the Santa Rita around 10 p.m. in a Dublin city squad car.

Deputies had been searching for him since 2 p.m. Monday, but they were still empty handed after combing an area north of the jail. Then, shortly after suspending their search around 8 p.m. a citizen called 911 explaining that the escapee was at a chevron station near the corner of San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Dublin Boulevard and he was on a bike wearing his prison-issued blue pants and a brown shirt that said Alameda County Jail on it.

"I saw the guy. He came rolling into our parking lot and then he stopped and talked to a customer and he started leaving the parking lot and a Dublin police officer showed up, flashed his sirens, flashed his lights and then he took off, crashed his bike right around the median there, and then he took off running. And then the cops came in and then a couple of the police officers headed him off and finally they got him right in front of Video Only over there," said Ben Honeck, a gas station clerk.

Investigators still aren't sure how he got the bike. They captured him about three miles away from the area where he was last seen, which is a vast area that includes the camp parks shooting range and the Tassajara Creek Regional Park.

Sheriff's deputies say Franco was arrested for burglary in Oakland and he was returning from court on a minimum-security inmate bus and escaped while being processed back into the jail.

Now the sheriff's department is trying to figure out exactly just how he managed to slip away.

We're told this is only the fourth escape since 1989. A convicted killer escaped in 1995 using another inmate's ID and last March, an inmate facing stolen vehicle charges walked out and was captured the next day in Fremont.