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Arizona Jail Racks Up Four Deaths And Two Escapes In Less Than Two Months

by Chuck Sharman

After two detainees died within a week at Arizona’s Pima County Jail — and just before two more committed suicide — two other detainees managed to walk out, all within two months.

One man escaped, and the other was released by a confused guard. On November 21, 2022, Khalid Rahman, 48, answered when a sheriff’s deputy called for another detainee, who was scheduled to be released. The deputy reportedly did not look further than some physical characteristics that Rahman shared with the other man before releasing him from the Adult Detention Complex. Rahman, who is Black, stands 5-foot-8-inches and weighs 170 pounds. He was being held on three unspecified misdemeanor charges. The office of Sheriff Chris Nanos said that Rahman is not considered dangerous.

The other detainee slipped away from the same jail on October 20, 2022, also during the scheduled release of other detainees. Oscar Alday, 43, had just arrived at the jail and was being booked on charges of domestic violence, aggravated assault and kidnapping. It was unclear how he got mixed up with the other detainees being released, but Nanos said: “This is somebody who outsmarted the system and found a way out.”

Court records indicate that Alday went on probation in July 2021 after being charged with unlawful imprisonment in 2020. He had other convictions in the county prior to that, including aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary and flight from an officer. Nanos’ office said the escapee is considered armed and dangerous.

But Alday, who is six feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, shed his orange jail jumpsuit during his escape and was barely clothed. He was spotted the day he fled in a video posted to social media, which showed him running down a street near the jail dressed only in boxer shorts. Nevertheless, he remained at large a month later when Rahman escaped.

“We’ll find them,” Nanos promised, saying his office has “got some pretty good leads we’re working.”

The U.S. Marshals Service has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Alday’s capture.

Earlier, the jail recorded two detainee deaths in just a week. On October 3, 2022, Terrance Salazar, 30, was found unresponsive in his cell and was later pronounced dead. He had been arrested six days earlier on felony burglary charges.

Three days later, on October 6, 2022, Benjamin Wilhite, 41, was found unresponsive in his cell at the jail and pronounced dead by responding paramedics. Details on his charges were not provided. The cause of both deaths is still under investigation.

A third prisoner was found dead at the jail on November 15, 2022. Hugh Gillespie Burford, 50, reportedly strangled himself with a bedsheet. He was being held on drug charges. Five days later, on November 20, 2022, Amin Shaheed Muhammad Ali, 40, also fatally hanged himself with a sheet from the top bed of his cell’s bunks. He was serving a 21-year sentence for a 2010 assault conviction with the state Department of Corrections and was being held at the jail on contraband charges. 

Sources: KOLD, KVOA

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