A woman who witnessed a violent crime allegedly committed by one of the inmates on the run after an elaborate jail break in Orange County said she thinks the man chose the devil over God, had drug problems and sometimes thought he heard voices.
Lanei Nguyen thinks Bac Duong must have snapped last November when there was a commotion at her home that nearly turned deadly.
"I heard the gunshots, then I pushed my sister back inside the room and when I came out Michael was down already," Nguyen said.
Her sister's friend Michael had been shot in the shoulder. She found him lying on her porch.
Duong, accused of the attempted murder, was one of three men who escaped from Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana on Friday. Duong, 43, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, were awaiting trials for unrelated violent crimes when they escaped in what authorities said was a brazen, well-orchestrated plot to flee the lockup.
The escape prompted a manhunt that has now stretched into its fourth day as officials ask the public for any leads and offer a $200,000 reward to help find the men. The escape also prompted a probe into how the inmates managed to pull off such an elaborate escape and an internal review to find out if anyone helped them from the inside.
"I believe he has nothing to lose right now," Nguyen said. "He could do a lot of damages to people he thinks betrayed him."
Duong has a criminal past that includes carjacking, burglary and firearm violations, police said. He was released under California's prison realignment program. At the time of the alleged shooting he was facing drug charges. He was eventually arrested in Garden Grove.
"It went into a pursuit, then an altercation," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a Santa Ana Police Department spokesman. "Obviously this individual doesn't want to be in jail. He was in possession of a firearm."
Nguyen doubts Duong was the mastermind behind the jail escape. Three inmates cut their way out of the Men's Central Jail, using rope made of bed sheets to rappel down five stories.
"I don't think that's his mentality," she said. "I think he was just there at the right time for the ride."
Duong is the only inmate who was held without bail. Immigration officials said he'd been in their custody for a year, supervised until 2014. They put a detainer on him when he was arrested in December.
"I believe he has nothing to lose right now," Nguyen said. "He could do a lot of damages to people he thinks that betrayed him."