Escaped San Quentin inmate taken into custody in Paso Robles

Posted at 4:13 PM, Dec 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-29 21:14:22-05

UPDATE (4:13 p.m.) – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says Shalom Mendoza was transported to Salinas Valley State Prison, not California Men’s Colony as officials previously reported.

UPDATE (2:35 p.m.) – San Quentin State Prison released a photo of Shalom Mendoza taken just after his arrest at a Paso Robles Taco Bell.

Shalom Mendoza
Photo Courtesy: San Quentin State Prison

UPDATE (2:00 p.m.) – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is releasing additional details about the arrest of an escaped prisoner from San Quentin State Prison.

CDCR officials say Correctional Safety, Special Service Unit agents took Shalom Mendoza into custody around 12:30 p.m. Saturday at a Taco Bell in Paso Robles.

Officers say someone in the restaurant recognized Mendoza and reported him to authorities.

He was taken into custody without incident.

He was transported to the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo County and his case will be referred to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of escape charges and carjacking.

Escaped San Quentin inmate in custody. Law enforcement apprehended him at the Taco Bell in Paso Robles near 24th and Riverside. KSBY’s Megan Healy KSBY is live where Shalom Mendoza was arrested.

Posted by KSBY on Saturday, December 29, 2018


UPDATE (1:30 p.m.) – A witness says an escaped prisoner who was captured in a Paso Robles Taco Bell was eating by himself and appeared to be very calm.

Crystal Vernoy says she was sitting in the booth behind Shalom Mendoza at the Taco Bell located at 24th and Riverside in Paso Robles.

She says she recognized the tattoo above his eyebrow from the news. As she sat down, she says a member of the Gang Task Force almost immediately approached Mendoza with a gun, told him to stop what he was doing, put his hands up, and get out of the booth.

She says Mendoza was handcuffed and taken outside.

Inmate captured
Photo Courtesy: Crystal Vernoy


“It was pretty scary. There were children in Taco Bell and everything. Thank god nothing bad did happen,” said Vernoy.

She says he was wearing a black shirt and sweatpants, which is in line with what investigators had previously said about Mendoza purchasing dark clothing at a Dollar Store in San Miguel.

Vernoy says the law enforcement officer asked the inmate for his name, and he said it was Andrew.

UPDATE (12:50 p.m.) – The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says an inmate who escaped from San Quentin State prison has been taken into custody at a Paso Robles Taco Bell.

Investigators tell KSBY Shalom Mendoza was caught at the Taco Bell location at 24th and Riverside.

A KSBY crew is headed to the scene.

This is a developing news story and will be updated as more information is made available.

(UPDATE 11:51 a.m.) – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a press release that investigators believe Shalom Mendoza, the inmate who escaped from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday, could be heading towards the Los Angeles area.

The CDCR said Mendoza was last seen at a Dollar Store in San Miguel around 4:20 p.m on Friday. The press release said he bought dark clothing at the store and ditched his prison uniform.

Mendoza was reported missing at approximately 9:35 p.m. on Wednesday during an institutional count at the prison.

The CDCR said Mendoza was assigned to work outside the secured perimeter of the prison and took advantage of the opportunity to escape.

Police believe Mendoza carjacked a Toyota RAV4 with the California license plate 6STZ502 at a Home Depot parking lot near the prison. The CDCR said officials found a car matching the description abandoned off Highway 101 near Paso Robles on Friday.

Mendoza is considered dangerous. Anyone who sees him or has contact with him is asked to immediately call 911.

If you have any information on his whereabouts, contact Special Agent Eric Lauren at (559) 351-3979.

Mendoza is described as a Hispanic male with short brown hair and brown eyes. He is 5’5″ and weighs 177 pounds.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in Los Angeles County in December of 2017 for use of a deadly weapon during a carjacking or attempted carjacking and evading or attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly.

ORIGINAL STORY – The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said the inmate that escaped from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday was spotted in Paso Robles around midnight early Saturday morning.

The Sheriff’s Office said he was spotted in Paso Robles on 20th and Riverside near Pioneer Park.

21-year-old Shalom Mendoza
Courtesy: CDCR

The Sheriff’s Office said it has units searching the area but doesn’t believe the escaped inmate, 21-year-old Shalom Mendoza, stayed in the area.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s watch commander did not give KSBY information about where Mendoza could have gone.

This is a developing story. We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

Police release surveillance video of carjacking as search continues for escaped San Quentin prisoner