The jail break attempt Wednesday was a copy of the successful 2006 flight from the same penal institution.
In both cases there were vehicles provided by unknown persons awaiting the fugitives. Wednesday the seven prisoners never got that far. Although surrounded by hostages, tactical squads from three police agencies cut short their flight by killing two and wounding two more. At the same time a prison guard died from wounds suffered during the prolonged shootout.
The Fiscalía Adjunta de Alajuela has opened an investigation into the case. The prisoners who survived will face allegations of flight and murder. But the investigation is being expanded to see if the prisoners had help from workers in the maximum security facility. That was the case in 2006.
The seven prisoners involved in the escape attempt include Jovel Guillermo Araya Ramírez, a successful escapee in 2006. Araya and Johnny Rodríguez Moya killed a guard when they broke out of prison Oct. 9, 2006, and shot it out with agents when they were caught 15 days later. Araya was wounded six times then. At that time it appeared that someone was waiting for the fugitives in a vehicle nearby. Rodríguez died from bullet wounds Wednesday as did Erlyn Hurtado Martínez.
The 15-passenger vehicle that investigators found Wednesday was loaded with weapons, money and even gas masks. It was about 100 yards from the prison facility.
Investigators also disclosed that the jail breakers had keys to individual cells in the prison unit. The probe will try to determine how the prisoners received them. The locks had been replaced two weeks earlier.
There are many people visiting the so-called maximum security section every week. The prisoners took advantage of conjugal visits and took the companions of other prisoners as hostages. They also had at least two pistols and several types of grenades, including one military type fragmentation grenade.
The entire prison system is plagued by smuggling of alcohol, drugs and worse.
The Poder Judicial identified the other surviving prisoners Wednesday as Jesús Rojas Miranda, Tony García Jiménez, Paris Hidalgo Mayorga, Juan Carlos Chaves Robles, Randall Morales Navarro and Carlos Agüero Sánchez. Morales and Agüero are hospitalized as are some members of the prison staff.
The La Reforma complex is in San Rafael de Alajuela. There are five independent prisons there, including the maximum security unit. The dead guard was correctly identified Thursday as Francis Moisés Morales Fallas, 39.