Friday, February 9, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 9, 2001

O'ahu prison guard's quick thinking foils escape attempt

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Previous story:
Prison breakouts concern Kalihi neighbors
Prison guard Galen Salsedo had to think fast when two inmates ambushed him and locked him in a cell Wednesday night. He did just that, and he thwarted a jail break at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

"I thought I was a goner," said Salsedo, who has worked 17 years as a guard at the prison. "I’m just glad they didn’t get away and no staff or the public got hurt."

Salsedo, 39, said yesterday that the two inmates surprised him, searched him, stole his jail keys and demanded a cellular phone as they forced him into their jail cell.

But Salsedo, a smoker, managed to alert jail officials about the escape attempt by using his lighter to set a fire that activated the smoke alarm.

"I set a paperback book on fire and put it up to the smoke detector in the room," said Salsedo. "I think that spooked them. It was survival. You start thinking real quick. I didn’t know if they were going to come back. You never know what their intentions were."

Warden Clayton Frank praised Salsedo yesterday for his "pretty quick thinking" in alerting the other guards.

It was the second reported security breach at the Kalihi facility since inmate Kerbert Silva escaped on his 37th birthday, Jan. 17, by climbing over a 16-foot fence topped by razor wire. Police officer Herbert Soria caught Silva on Jan. 25 in Makakilo, and Silva was returned to the prison.

Officials said yesterday that inmates Gabriel Apilando, 30; Logan K. Hose, 40; and Jay Jesus Pineda Gapusan, 23; tried to orchestrate the jail break Wednesday at about 10:40 p.m.

That night, Salsedo said, he went to investigate noises coming from Apilando’s cell and saw that Apilando had dropped a pen outside his cell. When Salsedo bent down to retrieve the pen, Hose and Gapusan rushed from their cell, jumped him and locked him in their cell. Officials said Hose was armed with a metal rod used to hang towels in their cell.

"It happened so fast," Salsedo said. "I didn’t have time to really think it over."

Officials said Gapusan entered the control booth and opened some of the cell doors in Module 1, allowing about 10 to 12 inmates to roam free. Hose then fled through a fire door, officials said.

Trapped inside a cell with inmates roaming free, Salsedo started the fire to trigger the alarm.

Salsedo said one of the roaming inmates opened his cell door and let him out. Salsedo then ordered all of the inmates back to their cells.

Officials said Hose attempted to climb a fence topped with razor wire but snagged himself and climbed back down. In the commotion, Hose and Gapusan sneaked back into their cell, but were later identified as the culprits, officials said.

Hose suffered cuts from the razor wire, officials said. Later, officials said they found two weapons, a sharpened toothbrush and Hose’s metal pipe.

The three inmates were arrested by police at 1:50 a.m. yesterday at the facility.

Apilando is awaiting trial on a charge of robbing a Kaneohe liquor store owner whose body was found in December in a Waimanalo trash bin. He has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree escape in connection with Wednesday’s incident.

Gapusan is awaiting trial on weapons, kidnapping and terroristic threatening charges. He was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree escape and a prison contraband offense.

Hose, awaiting trial on drug and weapon charges, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree escape and a prison contraband offense.

Public safety officials are investigating how Gapusan and Hose got out of their holding cells in Module 1, a facility filled with 47 inmates. Officials suspect one of the inmates plugged the lock, allowing them to leave their cell, said deputy warden Francis Sequeira.

Sequeira said officials will reassess security procedures.

Yesterday, Marian Tsuji, the Department of Public Safety deputy director for corrections, toured Module 1 with officials. She said prison officials have "been on their toes" following Kerbert Silva’s escape and added that Wednesday’s breakout was aborted with quick response by officials and safety measures around the module.

"It’s unfortunate that this occurred," Frank said. "That’s the nature of the business that we’re in."

Frank said Module 1 has safety mechanisms in place, including security cameras and the fences topped with razor wire.

Salsedo said he counted the inmates when he came on duty at 10 p.m. and "turned and yanked each door" to make sure the locks were secure.

Salsedo said he remembered in 1998 when a fellow guard Mel Imamura was severely beaten by inmates at the prison. The inmates escaped but were caught. He said he occasionally thinks of Imamura when he checks the cell doors.

"Especially since Mel, I’ve been checking more heartily," Salsedo said. "It gives you peace of mind. But look what happened. I’m going back to work on Monday night. It’ll be just another day at the office."

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