Three killed in bloody prison break shootout

A fierce and prolonged firefight ended an abortive escape from the La Reforma maximum security prison Tuesday and freed 14 hostages.

A prison guard held hostage and two prisoners died as a result of the firefight.

The Judicial Investigating Organization identified the guard by the last names of Castro Vindas. He died of a bullet wound in the back at Hospital México. The two prisoners were dead at the scene. They are Johnny Rodríguez Moya, who was a participant in a successful escape in 2006, and Erlyn Hurtado Martínez, the sole survivor of a gang that caused a massacre at a Santa Elena bank near Monteverde in March 2005.

The seven prisoners involved in the escape attempt include Jovel Guillermo Araya Ramírez, another successful escapee in 2006. Araya and Rodríguez 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.
The Judicial Investigating Organization identified the other would-be escapees by the last names of Jiménez García, Rojas Miranda, Hidalgo Mayorga, and Robles Chávez.

Jorge Rojas, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, said the would-be escapees had two firearms and even fragmentation grenades. One grenade was for gas, one was homemade and the third appears to have been real, said Rojas’ agency.

The prisoners wanted a bus to flee the San Rafael de Alajuela institution with hostages, said Rojas. Judicial agents and police from a number of agencies sealed off the prison and had decided that the prisoners would not escape, said Rojas.

Then when the prisoners started to move the hostages inside the prison complex they ran into an ambush by a judicial police tactical squad armed with heavy weapons.

The firefight lasted for at least five minutes and hundreds of shots appear to have been fired. At least four other persons were hurt, but not seriously, officials said.

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