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Prisoners escape from local courthouse

Two inmates have evaded police custody after escaping the Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto on Nov. 6. Since then, two alleged accomplices have been found, but the inmates remain on the loose.

The inmates, East Palo Alto residents John Penn Bivins, 47, and Tramel Leon McCullough, 46, slipped away from the building at around 9:30 a.m. Police arrested the accomplices, Marquita Kirk, 44, and Rene Hunt, 54, and charged them with conspiracy and accessory after the fact last Tuesday morning. According to sheriff department officials, Kirk had an ongoing relationship with McClough while Hunt arranged the getaway car and was described as an “associate” to one of the inmates. Both defendants escaped from the courtroom basement by distracting a sheriff’s deputy after being escorted from the main courtroom.

Police officials said the inmates were  chained before they somehow acquired handcuff keys. They later left the scene in a getaway car, a Toyota Camry, before leaving the car for a U-Haul truck within two blocks, police said.

The two were set to appear in court for being linked to an armed robbery that occurred at Sunnyvale in February.

Shortly after the escape, some Santa Clara County police officers arrived on Paly’s campus in order to speak with students about the situation and ensure that the campus was safe.

“I knew something was up when I saw some police cars around our campus and a police man talking to students, which is something we typically don’t see at this school.”

Junior Ben Civjan

In an email sent to the Paly staff, Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks said she had, “made contact with the police and have been advised that the suspects escaped in a car and are likely out of the area.”

The Palo Alto Police Department is attempting to get other law enforcing agencies involved to pinpoint the location of the absent prisoners, according to spokesman Reggie Cooks.

“It’s disturbing to think inmates could escape from a courthouse, but I still feel safe considering there are so many people around on my area.”

Senior Bruno Vargas

Santa Clara County sheriffs are telling the public to not approach anyone who they suspect may be the inmates, as the men may be armed. They have also asked local residents to immediately report any sightings of the two escapees. .

Hendricks said at no time were Paly students or staff in any danger after the escape.

She said, “The police indicated that the suspects have no relationship with the schools and are not believed to pose a danger at this time.”

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