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Manhunt still underway for prison escapee from Tuolumne County


A special agent with the Department of Corrections said Monday that investigators believe an escaped inmate remains in Tuolumne County, eluding capture due to his knowledge of the terrain and vast network of trails and possibly benefiting from help from someone else.

Special Agent Arnold Cruz said they have a number of leads in the search for Daniel Salazar, who on Friday stole a pickup truck from a firehouse at North Kern County State Prison. The truck was found unoccupied at 11 a.m. Saturday by a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s deputy on the side of Jamestown Road between Star Mobile Home Park and the Mother Lode Gun Club.

“He was raised there. He knows that place very well,” Cruz said.

Lt. Jose Martinez said there are teams searching in Tuolumne County and they are assuming Salazar remains on foot.

Cruz said Salazar was able to break into a box where keys for vehicles were stored and drive off from the minimum-security facility.

There were no tools or weapons in the vehicle.

“Two fire extinguishers,” Cruz said, “not your typical fire truck with toolboxes.”

The information that he was armed and dangerous was issued due to the fact authorities that don't know where he is, who he has been with, and they know he doesn't want to go back to prison.

Salazar, 30, was serving a three-year, eight-month sentence for second-degree robbery and using someone else’s identification stemming from an incident in Tuolumne County.

He entered the prison system in August 2016. Salazar was scheduled to be released in March.

Cruz said it is not all that unusual for an inmate to try to escape with so little time left on their sentence.

“I've seen guys try to get away in shackles,” Cruz said.

Some inmates try to escape simply because they're tired of being in prison, others because they get bad news from home, he said.

Two Sonora-area women said on social media that he was likely coming to Tuolumne County for his son.

Salazar was considered low risk and had been assigned to the 10-bed firehouse since December. His disappearance was discovered during a routine count around 9:10 p.m. Friday. The prison is 188 miles from Sonora.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has offered a reward for information on Salazar's whereabouts. Martinez said the amount would be commensurate with the information provided.

Salazar has short black hair, hazel eyes and weighs about 185 pounds.

Anyone with information about Daniel Salazar is asked to call the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 533-5815 or 911.