Two arrested for allegedly helping inmates escape


Two people have been arrested in connection with helping two inmates escape from a Palo Alto courthouse Monday morning, Santa Clara County sheriff’s officials said Tuesday evening.

Marquita Kirk

Marquita Kirk and Rene Hunt were both arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and being an accessory after the fact for the brazen escape, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m. outside the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s Palo Alto Courthouse.

As of Tuesday evening, the pair, Tramel McClough, 47, and John Bivins, 46, have not been apprehended. Kirk, 44, of Sunnyvale, was arrested at about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning in Sunnyvale.

Rene Hunt

She allegedly rented a U-Haul truck and staged it near the courthouse to serve as a getaway vehicle.

Additionally, she has a long-standing relationship with McClough, sheriff’s officials said Information about Hunt’s arrest or his involvement in the inmates’ escape was not immediately available.

Bivins and McClough were heading to a court appearance in the same courtroom on the morning of the escape.

As the deputies were escorting the inmates to court, the inmates somehow caused a distraction.

At that point, McClough and Bivins – one of who was in chains and shackles and the other in handcuffs – bolted for a nearby emergency exit.

It isn’t clear which prisoner had the heavy set of restraints. Other inmates who were with the duo as they were being led to court didn’t attempt to escape.

A deputy gave chase to the two inmates, but was unable to apprehend them. The pair then got into an awaiting 1980s-model Toyota Corolla about 50-60 yards away from the courthouse.

The pair and those who accompanied them in the getaway vehicle then dumped the Toyota at an undisclosed location, got into the U-Haul, drove away and haven’t been seen since.

The inmates appeared to have a handcuff key in their possession sometime during the escape, although it’s unclear how they acquired it.

Sgt. Reggie Cooks said Monday that the pair is from the Palo Alto area, as Bivins has an “EPA” tattoo – which stands for East Palo Alto – on his stomach.

The pair likely has a local network that helped them get away.

“They’re from the local area … anyone who is anyone that is aiding or abetting we would prosecute to the fullest extent,” Cooks said. Both McClough and Bivins were being housed at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas.

Bivins is described as a 5 foot 9 inch, 180 pound black man with brown eyes and black hair. McClough is a 6 foot, 4 inch black man who weighs 285 pounds.

Both inmates had jumpsuits with an orange top and gray pants that they didn’t change out of while escaping.

Anyone who sees them is advised to call 911 or the sheriff’s office at (408) 808-3670. Both men were arrested in February on suspicion of stealing $64,400 worth of cellphones and other merchandise from a Verizon store in Sunnyvale, police said earlier this year.

In that case, the men wore masks and forced store employees to open a safe, before tying them up and locking them in the bathroom.

One of the two was armed with a handgun while the other had a knife, police said. The pair then ransacked the store, taking dozens of cellphones and other merchandise before fleeing in a vehicle.

Police apprehended the pair afterward nearby, following a short pursuit. Police recovered the stolen property and the handgun allegedly used in the robbery.

The gun had been reported stolen out of Nevada, police said.

(Copyright 2017 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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