• The escapees gained access to the roof of the facility and scale down using a handmade rope
  • The escaped inmates are aged between 19 and 22
  • All except one was convicted on felony charges including murder

Six inmates escaped from a California jail Sunday and their "tool" was a handmade rope.

Authorities were on the lookout for the inmates, who broke out of the Merced County Downtown Jail just before midnight Sunday. The fugitives gained access to the roof of the facility and used a rope made of braided sheets to scale down its walls, the Merced County Sheriff's Office said.

The escaped inmates must be considered "armed and dangerous," the sheriff's office said in a press release. All of them except one were convicted on felony charges including murder. They were aged between 19 and 22.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said although the escape happened at around 11:30 p.m., the staff noticed them missing only during the routine morning inspection, which was nearly eight hours later. This is because the prison protocol does not allow them to interrupt an inmate's sleep.

"We do have officers walking up and down the cell blocks, but we are no longer allowed to wake them up because they deemed it necessary for them to have a whole night's sleep," Warnke said, reported news outlet ABC30.

He said the jail's dated housing facility must have made the inmates' job easier. The jail also faces staff shortage since 2009 due to state and county budget cuts. A new jail facility is now under construction in the county, the sheriff told the outlet.

The escaped prisoners are identified as Fabian Cruz Roman, 22, Gabriel Francis Cornado, 19, Manuel Allen Leon, 21, Andrews Nunez Rodriguez Jr., 21, Edgar Eduardo Ventura, 22, and Jorge Barron, 20.

Roman was in jail on murder charges, while Cornado and Rodriguez were convicted on charges of attempted murder and possession of a firearm. Leon was jailed for assault with a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm. Ventura landed in prison for allegedly possessing a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang. Barron had violated probation, the sheriff's office said.

The officials did not reveal how the inmates knew each other. The sheriff's office formed a task force to track down the escapees. Anyone with information regarding them can call 911.

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The jail's dated housing facility must have helped the escapees in their attempt, the sheriff said. pixabay