Sheriff announces $25K reward for info leading to capture of 2 Santa Clara County inmates

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The search continues in the South Bay for two inmates who escaped from the Palo Alto courthouse on Monday. 

On Wednesday, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the inmates' capture. 

On Tuesday, the sheriff's department said it arrested two people for helping the inmates escape.

Sheriff's officials said 44-year-old Marquita Kirk, of Sunnyvale, rented a U-Haul for John Bivens and Tramel McClough. 54-year-old Rene Hunt from East Palo Alto was alo arrested for conspiracy and accessory after the fact in relation to this case. 

The two inmates, Bivens and McClough, escaped from the Palo Alto Courthouse in what Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office officials called an "orchestrated escape." Both inmates are still at large. 

Sgt. Reggie Cooks said inmates Bivins, 46, and McClough, 47, managed to flee and had "cars and people waiting for them to get out".

According to the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections Inmate Locator, both men were being held at the Elmwood Correctional Facility without bail. Each had a court appearance scheduled at the Palo Alto Courthouse today.

Santa Clara County Sheriff tweeted a photo of a key Monday evening and said it was found outside the courthouse in the "escapees' path". If seen, they asked the public to call 911. 

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. Anyone that 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.

According to police, the two men were wearing masks when they allegedly forced the store's employees to open the store's safe and then tied them up and locked them in a bathroom, police said. One was armed with a handgun and the other with a knife.

The suspects ransacked the store, reportedly taking dozens of cellphones and other merchandise before fleeing in a vehicle. The employees were not injured, police said.

Police found the suspect vehicle about 3 miles away, at Corte Madera Avenue and Costa Mesa Terrace. The vehicle sped off, starting a short pursuit involving the Santa Clara County sheriff's air unit, patrol personnel and Mountain View police.

The vehicle eventually stopped in the parking lot of an apartment complex, at which time the driver fled on foot before being captured, police said. The passenger started to flee before a police officer deployed a conductive energy device and apprehended him. He was treated at a hospital and arrested.

Police found all of the stolen property and the handgun allegedly used in the robbery in the suspect vehicle. The gun had been reported stolen out of Nevada, police said.

Investigators are working to determine whether these suspects are responsible for other armed robberies in the Bay Area.