Supervisors seek answers on Pitchess inmate escape

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

County supervisors want to know how an inmate at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic escaped from the jail this past weekend, and they want assurances it won’t happen again.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger asking the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide a written report to the board on the facts surrounding the inmate escape this past weekend at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.

On Sunday, inmate David Luis Bustamonte was discovered missing from the facility at approximately 7 a.m. during a routine inmate count.  

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

Bustamonte then led investigators on an eight-hour search before he was located and arrested at the Interstate 5 freeway and Highway 126, beneath the overpass.

The details surrounding how the inmate escaped remain unclear and members of the surrounding community are appropriately concerned and want assurance that these types of incidents are thoroughly investigated and corrective actions are taken to prevent them in the future, according to Barger’s motion.

“We want to make sure our Sheriff’s Department is fully equipped to ensure the public’s safety. This instance offers insight on opportunities for improvement,” Barger said.  

“We also want to thank the department’s Major Crimes Bureau investigators, and all others who were part of the search for finding and apprehending the inmate as quickly as possible.”

The report is due back to the board in 45 days and will include any resulting corrective action plans taken.

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 by the LASD after his arrest.

“There was a lockdown of the one facility,” said Sgt. Bob Boese 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.”

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.
Bustamonte was convicted in July 2018 on theft-related charges, including burglary and theft of property, Boese 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 Inmate Information Center website.  

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

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