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Search for escaped prisoner called off after nearly 4 hours
After scouring the area of West County 9th Street and South Levy Road for nearly four hours, Yuma police called off their search for a prisoner who escaped from custody Tuesday afternoon while at the Yuma Municipal Court.
Sgt. Leanne Worthen, a spokesperson for the Yuma Police Department, said they will remain on the lookout for the prisoner, 28-year-old Raul Dominguez, and there is a strong possibility that he may have slipped away into Mexico.
Worthen said the full-scale search, which involved several area law enforcement agencies, was called off at about 6 p.m. after authorities could find no sign of Dominguez hiding in the thick shrubbery near the U.S./Mexico border. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter and a bloodhound from the Department of Corrections also aided in the search.
Mexican authorities were also involved in the search, combing the area on their side of the border.
Worthen said that at about 12:10 p.m. officers were dispatched to the area of 350 West 16th Street for a report of a man, who was later identified as Dominguez, wearing a prisoner uniform and leg shackles running in the area. The man later fled that area in a white 2002 Mazda minivan he had carjacked.
Although he was originally wearing a red prisoner uniform and leg shackles, Worthen said he changed his clothing to a white T-shirt and tan pants.
At about 2:00 p.m., the minivan was located at County 9th St. and the levee road by United States Border Patrol and Dominguez was spotted making his way toward Mexico on foot.
Dominguez is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes.
According to Capt. Eben Bratcher, of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, Dominguez was booked into the Yuma County jail Monday night on two felony charges of assault on a peace officer, five misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and one misdemeanor count of theft.
In addition to those charges, Yuma police added another felony and two misdemeanors on Tuesday. The felony charge was for burglary and the misdemeanors were for theft and trespassing. He also had a Border Patrol hold on him from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Bratcher said Dominguez was one of 10 prisoners who were picked up at the county jail Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. by Municipal Court officers to be transferred to the Yuma Municipal Court for their court appearances.
Then at about 12:18 p.m., Bratcher said the Detention Center received a report from a Quechan police officer that a prisoner was trying to hijack a vehicle in the vicinity of 16th Street and 5th Avenue.
Bratcher said after receiving the report of an escaped prisoner, the sheriff’s office placed the Detention Center on secure mode and conducted a count of all the inmates, all of whom were accounted for. They then contacted the Municipal Court and asked the officers there to do a head count on the number of prisoners in their custody and were informed they were missing one.
Municipal Court officers returned nine of the 10 prisoners who were in their custody to the Detention Center at 1:14 p.m., according to Bratcher. It is still unclear how Dominguez escaped.
Anyone with any information about this case or Dominguez’s whereabouts is asked to call YPD at (928) 783-4421 or 78-Crime (to remain anonymous).