UPDATE: LASD announces escaped inmate has been apprehended

Pitchess Detention Center inmate David Luis Bustamonte. Courtesy image: LA County Sheriff's Department PIO Nicole Nishida

David Luis Bustamonte led investigators on an eight-hour search before he was placed in custody after he escaped from the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic on Sunday.

During a routine inmate count in the center’s South facility, Bustamonte was not found in his bunk at 7 a.m., according to a Nixle alert issued after his arrest.

“There was a lockdown of the one facility,” said Sgt. Bob Basey of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “Following that, they locked down other facilities as they continued searching, then they sounded the alarms. They needed to verify if he was indeed missing.”

By 9:30 a.m., sirens across the detention center went off as the entire area went on lockdown.

With the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau investigators, along with scent canines, Bustamonte was found off the property and approaching the Interstate 5 at State Route 126 beneath an underpass by a homeless encampment, according to the Nixle alert.

Bustamonte was found wearing civilian clothing, according to the same Nixle alert. Where he acquired the clothes is still under investigation.

Once found, Bustamonte was apprehended without incident. He was then transported to a nearby hospital for a medical clearance before being booked.

“He’ll be transported to the Inmate Reception Center (in Los Angeles) and reclassified as an escapee,” Basey said. “He probably will not be going back to Pitchess.”

As of 5 p.m., Pitchess remained on lockdown as the investigation into Bustamonte’s escape continued, said Deputy Charles Moore of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. How Bustamonte escaped remains unclear.

Bustamonte was convicted on theft-related charges, including burglary and theft of property in July 2018, Basey said. His next arraignment is scheduled to be held at the Pomona Courthouse on March 6, according to lacourt.org. He’s being held in lieu of $1,165,000 bail, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Inmate Information Center website.  

Nearby residents were advised to keep all doors and windows to their homes, along with vehicle doors, locked.

“If you see anything suspicious or anyone moving around wearing a jail uniform, please call 911 and police will be on it,” Basey said during the search. “Just be aware of your surroundings.”

Nearby neighborhoods were declared safe shortly after he was back in custody, according to a tweet from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau.


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About the author

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini covers local news for The Signal. He joined in 2018 and previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Sundial, Scene Magazine and El Nuevo Sol while enrolled as a student at California State University, Northridge, where he studied journalism and political science. He's lived in Santa Clarita since 2002.