BREAKING: Fourteen Washington state inmates escaped from jail, 6 still on the loose

Monday evening the City of Yakima, WA Facebook page posted:

ALERT! Several prisoners have escaped from the Yakima County Jail in Downtown Yakima. Residents in the northeast and southeast areas of Yakima should call 9-1-1 to report any suspicious activity. Those residents should also stay indoors.

Tuesday the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office provided more details:

As you all know on Monday night, an unfortunate incident happened at the Yakima County Jail that has never happened on this large of a scale. 14 inmates that were held on various crimes decided they wanted out of the jail. The inmates in Annex C movevd some heavy metal tables to the entry door of the Annex blocking it from jail employees. The remaining table was used as a battering ram to break open the exterior fire door. The inmates jumped the exterior fence and ran to temporary freedom.

The jail called our office informing us of the jailbreak to their facility and requesting our help to find them. The jail and the Sheriff’s Office are two separate entities. The jail has been the responsibility of a jail director who answers to the Board of County Commissioners. The Sheriff leads the Sheriff’s Office.

Our office along with the Yakima Police Department, the Moxee Police Department, the Union Gap Police Department, the US Marshal’s Service, and the Washington State Patrol flooded the surrounding areas of the jail with deputies, officers, and troopers looking for the running inmates. Within 15 minutes, we were able to capture 8 inmates and bring them back to jail to continue their incarceration.

Our office is responsible for investigating crimes that happen at the jail. We set up an incident command post at our office with our many law enforcement partners consisting of over 50 people. We started to gather information and send it out to the community via cellphone notices similar to Amber Alerts, various television, radio, and print media outlets, along with our social media. We needed to notify the community that this incident occurred and to watch out for the 6 remaining inmates.

Our Sheriff went on Facebook Live and showed photographs and names of the 6 inmates in a light-hearted manner to have people watch with interest in this stressful time in our state. Many people enjoyed this approach of humor and some believed our Sheriff was not taking this incident seriously. Your Sheriff is giving this matter the level of attention and expertise it requires. A jailbreak of 14 people is an upsetting situation. The community expects the jail will keep inmates in jail until they are released by a court. Our office will continue to search for the 6 escaped inmates and bring them back to the County jail. Our office is committed to the community and we appreciate your trust in our abilities.

We have been working with the US Marshal’s Service utilizing their expertise in finding people. The Marshal’s Service has announced a reward of up to $1,000 for any information leading to the arrest of any of the 6 inmates. If anyone has information, we encourage you to call the US Marshal’s Tip Hotline at 1-866-865-TIPS. You can also send in tips to CrimeStoppers at (800) 248-9980 www.crimestoppersyakco.org. For urgent matters, please call 911 or our office 574-2500.

We have attached some behind the scene photos of our incident command in the early stages of information gathering.

NBC reports half a dozen inmates were on the loose Tuesday after 14 escaped from a county jail in Washington state the night before, officials said.

“ALERT! Several prisoners have escaped from the Yakima County Jail in Downtown Yakima,” said a Facebook post from the city of Yakima on Monday night. The post added that residents in certain areas of the city should remain indoors and call police if they see any suspicious activity.

The inmates were able to escape by breaking open an exterior fire door using a table from inside an annex, authorities shared.

“They decided they were going to break down the door and leave,” said Yakima County Sheriff Robert Udell in a video posted on Facebook. “Despite the governor’s shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, apparently they didn’t want to do that so they are out and about.”

The Yakima County Police Department could not at first say how many inmates had escaped from the jail. “The actual number of inmates unaccounted for is unknown,” said a tweet from the department.