Supes request probe into inmate’s escape

Two San Mateo County supervisors are calling for an investigation into the escape of inmate Josue Raul Orozco, the 17-year-old homicide suspect who scaled over a San Mateo County Youth Services Center wall on Thursday.

County supervisors Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon said Sunday they want an independent investigation into the center’s security. Hill questioned whyit took hours for authorities to issue an arrest warrant for Orozco.

“I wasn’t happy about how long it took to respond and how easily this person escaped,” Hill said.

Orozco escaped from the facility sometime between 6:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Thursday. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office did not alert authorities of Orozco’s escape until after 9 p.m. that night.

On Saturday, sheriff’s officials said Orozco was aided in his escape by inmates Martin Villa Patino, 18, and Vanher Cho, 18. Authorities said Orozco may have fled for Mexico, where his father resides.

The call to investigate the facility, located in the Highlands area in San Mateo, was echoed by friends and neighbors of Francisco “Pancho” Rodriguez, of Redwood City, the victim of Orozco’s alleged murder in 2005.

Orozco, an alleged member of the Sureño gang, was only 14 when he was charged with Rodriguez’s death and is the youngest person charged with murder in San Mateo County. He faces life without parole.

Rodriguez’s friends said they are shocked at how easy it was for the teenager to slip away and said they want to see the facility improve its security. They described Rodriguez, a father of three, as “a very nice, friendly family man.”

Freddie Alvarez, 42, of Redwood City, gave authorities “a 50-50 chance” of finding Orozco. But it never should have come to having to search for him, he said, because he shouldn’t have been allowed to escape.

“Especially with people like that, people who have done something very dangerous, they should be more careful. They should do better,” he said.

Cary Wiest, president of the nearby Highlands Neighborhood Association, said his phone “has been off the hook” with complaints from neighbors. When the 2006 facility was built, he said, they were told such dangerous people wouldn’t be housed there.

Sgt. Gary Brown, of the Sheriff’s Office, said investigators are assuming Orozco could be in Mexico, but are still following up on local leads.

A former neighbor of Rodriguez’s, who declined to be identified, said she hopes Orozco is found, but until he is, he’ll face his own brand of punishment.

“He’s always going to be looking behind him, forever, until he’s caught,” she said.

kworth@examiner.com  

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