Dang Nguyen is counting her blessings. She's happy that she and her Chihuahua escaped the clutches of a carjacker in San Rafael who she says was the inmate who escaped from San Quentin Prison.
"After, I was like, 'Oh, I was so lucky, it's a very dangerous prison," Nguyen said.
KTVU showed her a picture of the escaped inmate, 21-year-old Shalom Mendoza. She says she has no doubt he took her SUV.
"He's the one!" she exclaimed while looking at Mendoza's picture.
Nguyen was carjacked in the Home Depot parking lot in San Rafael at about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, just 20 minutes before prison officials realized that Mendoza was missing. The inmate had walked away from his job outside the secure perimeter of the prison.
"I didn't know he escaped from the prison with the high-security," Nguyen said.
Surveillance video shows Nguyen and a friend at her silver Toyota RAV4. You can see a man walking up to them. Nguyen assumed he was just another shopper. She was wrong.
"He say he had a gun, first i didn't hear well," Nguyen said. "I said, 'What?' He said, 'I have a gun. Give me your key! If not, I'm gonna kill you! He said two or three times like that."
Nguyen said the man had his hands under his shirt and for a couple seconds, she wondered if he really had a gun. But she stepped aside, as he got in.
And that's when her dog, 8-year-old Febie, who was in the passenger seat, started barking.
"And I say, 'Iwant my dog back,' because my dog bark a lot, so that's when he said, 'OK' and he stepped out and let me grab the dog," Nguyen said
The carjacker drove off with her SUV, with California license plate 6STZ502.
Nguyen works at a nail salon. Febie follows her wherever she goes. She's glad she was able to save her dog but is hoping her RAV4 turns up.
Nguyen said her gas tank was full. But it's unclear whether Mendoza is still driving her SUV.
In 2017, Mendoza carjacked a man of his Toyota Prius in West Los Angeles, ditched it, stole a Mercedes 15 minutes later and then led LAPD officers and a helicopter on wild chase - including driving the wrong way - before he was arrested.