Residents in Dededo, Harmon uneasy with inmates still on the run

by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM News
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The emotions of residents are running high in the Dededo and Harmon area. With two escaped inmates possibly hiding out in their backyard, they're questioning why it's taking so long. Northern residents are living on pins and needles, waiting and watching their backs.

Two Department of Corrections inmates who broke out of jail last Friday remain on the run, with Tuesday marking Day 4 in the search for the two men, still considered armed and extremely dangerous. Police are saying they've received a number of tips regarding sightings of the escapees, but the two have managed to elude authorities.

One Dededo resident, asking to be quoted anonymously, said, "There were a lot of cop cars and mostly unmarked cars. There was just a lot [of police officers] with their weapons and stuff. I just closed the door and stayed in the house." Yet another said, "I'm just hoping our men in blue take care of it as soon as possible. It's so hard to even let the kids outside if they want to go out and play. It's terrible...really bad. This is our village here now I'm kind of scared and worried about the problem here."

Feeling the pressure and stepping up the search, is a combination of law enforcement agencies working round-the-clock Criminal Investigation Division commander Captain Rick Leon Guerrero says the Guam Police Department has been flooded with reported sightings. Four days on the run and police are confident Jeffrey John Cruz and Frank E. Pangelinan are getting assistance from certain people in the community.

Said the captain, "Information obtained from their known associates is that they will provide some sort of resistance. The magnitude of resistance we don't know. I cannot confirm that they are armed, but they will provide some resistance. Are we ready? Yes, we are. We are authorized to use whatever force is necessary to bring them back to custody."

Former DEPCOR director and now senator Robert Klitzkie likewise is concerned about the safety of the community, saying, "We're all concerned as long as escaped convicts are on the loose. We need to do the best we can to get them rounded up as soon as we can."

As reported there were only two officers on duty when inmates Cruz, Pangelinan and Michael Laguana, Jr. Broke free of the Maximum Security Unit, and only seventeen officers were on duty all together. Senator Klizkie can't specifically evaluate whether that was sufficient manpower, but does contend a new prison is long overdue. He continued to say, "The number of corrections officers on duty is not nearly important as the architecture of the facility, and perhaps even the time of day; if you have a properly designed facility and everyone, and it's midnight and everyone is locked down then two officers is okay. I don't know how exactly the current director is operating the facility, but if he says that two aren't enough, I'm inclined to say that two aren't enough."

More than 100 police and law enforcement officers are assisting in the islandwide manhunt. On Monday night police were alerted to a sighting of one of the escapees in the Mangilao area. Search efforts though are still concentrated in Dededo and Harmon. Police believe Cruz and Pangelinan are desperate for food, water and weapons. Captain Leon Guerrero speculated, saying, "A lot of the contacts that we have made did specify that they are trying desperately to acquire those things." He further says the 24-hour operation will continue until the two inmates are found. Until then, residents are advised to report any suspicious activity and remain alert. "It's just a matter of time before our efforts will be fruitful," Leon Guerrero projected.

Police cannot give an exact description of what the two inmates are wearing since they escaped. Anyone with any information about the whereabouts of either or both of the escapees are asked to call GPD's Sightings Hotline at 475-8553. The Guam Police continue to advise all residents to stay alert and aware of their surroundings, and to stay calm and avoid panic.

On a side note, the Department of Corrections is looking to bring on more staff, with the agency currently in the process of training at least 60 additional officers. As well, DEPCOR is also petitioning the 28th Guam Legislature to provide funding for a new facility.

Frank E. Pangelinan is serving a life sentence for his conviction of aggravated murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, hindering apprehension and the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. He is described as standing 5'9" and weighing 190 lbs. He has brown eyes with short black hair and was last seen wearing a pink shirt.

Jeffrey John Cruz has a history of breaking out of jail. He was convicted on two separate robbery charges, namely burglary and theft. He stands 5'6" and weighs 200 lbs, and has black hair with brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a red shirt.

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