FALLON - Nevada Department of Corrections officers and local law officers scoured Fallon on Friday for a Carson City prison escapee who is considered armed and dangerous.
Authorities said Jody Thompson, 24, hid in a prison industries box truck that left Carson City Thursday morning enroute to Lovelock, with a stop in Fallon. Somewhere between the two cities, Thompson is suspected of using a hammer to break a hole through the bottom of the truck, reaching through and opening the rear door.
Thompson, 24, was serving time for 12 counts of armed robbery, said Howard Skolnik, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Corrections.
"The crimes all involved the use of a weapon and he's familiar with weapons," Skolnik said. "This individual has the potential to be very dangerous."
Skolnik said Friday afternoon he doesn't believe Thompson is still in the Fallon area although evidence points to him being here sometime Thursday.
"We're reasonably sure he got off in Fallon," he said. "To our knowledge he has no support system in Fallon and we do believe he's headed towards Las Vegas."
Most of Thompson's crimes occurred in Parumph, with a few in Las Vegas. He has ties to both cities, according to Skolnik.
The state-owned truck left the furniture shop at the prison at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Inmates make furniture that is sold at a discount to other state agencies, and a delivery was scheduled in Fallon, Skolnik said. He did not know the exact location of the delivery, but said it wasn't made because the driver didn't get a response when he knocked on the door. Thompson worked in the furniture shop.
Skolnik believes Thompson was at Grand Slam Market on North Maine Street in Fallon on Thursday afternoon.
Patricia Lopez, a clerk at the convenience store, said she saw a man matching the description of Thompson in the store around 2 p.m.
"I saw the guy in the back eating egg rolls off the hot dog machine," Lopez said.
She didn't think much of it because customers often eat in the store and pay for their food before leaving, but she kept an eye on the man. She was distracted when a distributor came in with a delivery, and the man left the store without paying for the food, she said.
Lopez, 53, didn't report the theft to police, instead writing it off as a loss, she said.
Later, the clerk said, four prison vans occupied by guards converged on the store to show Lopez pictures of Thompson. She said when she mentioned the man had a dirty bandage on his arm, the guards indicated it was probably Thompson. Authorities believe he may have cut his arm reaching through the hole to free himself from the truck.
Thompson is described as 5-feet, 11-inches tall weighing 135 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans and a blue denim shirt when he was last seen at the prison. He could have ditched the denim shirt and be wearing a white T-shirt. He has blonde hair and hazel eyes.
He has a tattoo of an eagle on his back, a bird on his right leg and "CJ" on his shoulder.
Skolnik cited human error for the escape. He said trucks leaving the prison should be searched and monitored while being loaded. Thompson was also not immediately missed from his work area.
"An investigation is under way into how he did this," Skolnik said. "What happens is that things go really well for 15 years and people get complacent."
The prison shop has been shut down until the investigation is complete.
Both Skolnik and Fallon Police Chief Russ Brooks said anyone who thinks they see Thompson should call 911 and not try to approach him. Flyers have been distributed in town with Thompson's photo.
"If you see something suspicious, report it to us," Brooks said. "If somebody has a theft of clothing they should call us right away."
-- Marlene Garcia can be contacted at email@example.com