Marshals capture second fugitive who fled courthouse | News | Palo Alto Online |


Marshals capture second fugitive who fled courthouse

Task force led by U.S. Marshals Service nabs John Bivins near a San Leandro hotel Sunday

John Penn Bivins, the second of two inmates who escaped from the Palo Alto courthouse on Nov. 6, was recaptured by the U.S. Marshals Service on Sunday morning while coming out of a San Leandro motel, according to the federal agency.

Bivins, a 47-year-old East Palo Alto resident, was taken into custody by officials from multiple agencies at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The officials were part of the Pacific Southwest Regional Task Force, which is led by the U.S. Marshals.

According to the Marshals Service, investigative work over the Thanksgiving holiday and subsequent days led investigators to Fairmont Inn in San Leandro. On Sunday morning, members of the task force reportedly spotted him walking out of the inn.

Bivins, who's been charged with armed robbery and other alleged crimes, reportedly was not compliant with officers' commands. He was shot with a Taser and forced to the ground, according to the Marshals Service.

Once treated at a hospital, he will be transported to Santa Clara County, where he will face fresh criminal charges that include escape, felon in possession of a firearm and attempted murder of a federal agent and a state peace officer.

U.S. Marshal Frank Conroy said it is part of Marshals Service protocols that any time a Taser is used in the process of the arrest, the person on whom it was used is brought to a medical professional to ensure they are OK.

Bivins' capture concludes a nearly three-week manhunt that began on Nov. 6, when the two convicts reportedly evaded a guard while being transported through the hallway of the Palo Alto courthouse, escaped through an emergency exit and used two waiting vehicles to orchestrate an elaborate escape from Palo Alto.

Prior to Sunday, Bivins had been last seen at a gas station in Stockton on Tuesday, shortly after McClough was arrested in a nearby Walmart Supercenter. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Bivins fled the store in a Ford Explorer after using the car to try to run over a deputy U.S. marshal and a California Highway Patrol officer.

Officers shot at Bivins when he attempted to run them over, but he eluded capture, according to officials.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office announced Bivins' capture in a tweet Sunday afternoon and thanked the U.S. Marshals and "all our numerous allied agency partners during the course of the investigation."

County Sheriff Laurie Smith, whose agency has been fielding questions about courthouse security since the escape, said in a statement that the sheriff’s office is "extremely pleased that John Bivins is in custody."

"The capture of John Bivins and Tramel McClough were only possible by the unwavering determination of the U.S. Marshals, Sheriff's Office Detectives and numerous allied agencies." Smith said. "We are grateful for the continued interagency collaboration."

At the time of their escape, Bivins and McClough were both inmates at the Elmwood Correctional Facility who were in Palo Alto for a court hearing (they are co-defendants in a trial). They were both arrested in February for allegedly taking $64,400 worth of cellphones and other merchandise from a Verizon store in Sunnyvale in an armed robbery, during which they tied up the employees and locked them up in the bathroom.

The sheriff's office had offered a $25,000 reward for any information that led to the arrests of McClough and Bivins.

The U.S. Marshals Service, which conducts fugitive investigations throughout the country, also lauded the resolution of this case as a good example of collaboration between agencies. U.S. Marshal Don O'Keefe called the task force's work "a perfect example of law enforcement’s dedication to protecting our communities."

“I’m proud to collaborate with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and bringing a dangerous fugitive to justice,” O’Keefe said.


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14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Good job capturing them!

7 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Thanks to everyone involved in catching them.

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Right on! How satisfying for the U.S. Marshals. Glad no law enforcement officers got hurt. Great work, thank you!

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