SOCORRO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – It seems straight out of a movie: a jail inmate climbing into the ceiling and making a run for it. But, that’s what happened in Socorro last month.
It was a tense moment in Socorro in May, as detention center officer Esaul De La Rocha caught up with Grant Stewart, who had just broken out of the Socorro County Detention Center.
According to jail administrator Eddie Garcia, Stewart was a felon and sex offender out of Colorado who was picked up in New Mexico. He said Stewart was detoxing in a booking cell when he got up onto the sink and started working on screws in the ceiling.
“He got the string of the blanket and wrapped it around and started working on it, twiddling it around and around and he ended up getting it. He said it took him about four to six hours to finally get one done,” said Garcia. “He just started working on it and he kind of bent that metal piece down and that’s how he got through.”
County Manager Michael Hawkes said Stewart crawled in the ceiling before falling into Garcia’s office. “The space that he opened up the vent may be 14 inches wide and maybe 20 inches this way, so it’s amazing how he got through there,” said Hawkes. Garcia said Stewart ransacked through his office looking for resources like keys, clothes, or money. He only found expired gas cards. Stewart ditched his uniform and used a plastic bag to cover himself. Little did he know, when he exited the office he triggered a silent alarm.
Armed only with mace, De La Rocha followed him. “I’m just amazed at the officer’s fortitude to actually go after him,” said Hawkes. “Right way the classification is they’re more than likely going to be dangerous, they’re not going to go easy.”
De La Rocha used his mace on Stewart. He ran off but De La Rocha was able to stay with him until local law enforcement eventually helped arrest Stewart.
Steward, who initially refused medical treatment when booked into the detention center, claimed he was trying to get to the hospital. He was charged with escaping from jail, burglary, and stealing credit cards.