Following an all-night police operation that called in every officer to respond to a mass prison break at Tanumalala last night, the Samoa Police Service have arrested 20 of the 29 escaped prisoners as of 9am this morning and will not rest until they are all brought back into prison.
The Samoa Police Service had confirmed that 10 remained as of 8am this morning but within an hour of that update, SPS confirmed another prisoner, Pauna Kalolo, was captured near Fasitoo-uta.
Since the 3am update where 15 remained at large, three prisoners have since turned themselves in to police while another three have been added to the SPS arrest sheets.
Samoa Police Commissioner Su’a Fuiavailiili Egon Keil says the situation could have been a lot worse with prisoners ransacking the prison office area, breaking the locks to other cell rooms and attacking the prison guards before they escaped.
“They overpowered the guards, they attacked other inmates who had tried to help the prison guards and they broke open other cell blocks and they even went into the women’s cells,” said Su’a.
All prison guards on duty required medical attention including Samoa Prisons Deputy Chief Levaopolo Losa Siaosi who was on site at the time of the breakout.
“One prison guard who suffered serious head injuries from being struck at the back of the head with a rock remains at Motootua hospital as are five prisoners also with serious head injuries from the attack.
“These are the prisoners who were trying to help the guards. So we have inmate-on-inmate violence there too now.”
Su’a says many more prisoners required treatment for minor injuries, but were treated and placed back into the population last night.
Su’a confirmed that the prisoners have make-shift weapons on them and warns the public to not approach them under any circumstances.
“One of them had on him a spoon, where the handle had been sharpened, and it turns into a stabbing device;
“It was wrapped up into a rag, so that is a very effective stabbing tool and these prisoners had such weapons on them,” said the Police Commissioner.
“So the message to the public is to not approach these prisoners. Call 911 or 22222 amd let us do oir job.”
One of the 9 prisoners still at large is Simanu’a Manuele of Falefa and Toamua Uta, serving a life sentence for the double murder in November 2018 of two men, attacked and killed by Manuele using a machete (sapelu) as his weapon.
Daniel Vailopa had previously escaped prison in 2011 and again in 2015 with several other prisoners, and while on the run stole the mobile phone and attempted to rape a tourist who had been on an early morning walk on the popular Mount Vaea track.
Still at large also is Isaia Liuafi of Manono Leauvaa and Talimatau, who had been sentenced in 2017 by Justice Tuala-Warren for raping a 10 year old girl who was waiting to be picked up after school. He had lured her into a nearby bush area after saying that her mom had sent him to collect her from school.
Sofi Uale Tuaoi of Laulii and Foailuga is serving time for manslaughter when he caused the death of a security guard and father of eight in 2018, by striking his head with a beer bottle outside Seana bar when the security guard refused him entry.
Silao Faaleleiga of Nofoalii, Saanapu and Salailua Savaii had escaped custody as an 18 year old last year and was recaptured by Samoa Police in May 2019.
Visesio Aso of Matautu-tai and Laulii was imprisoned last year for robbing a taxi driver.
SPS warn and remind the general public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the Samoa Police Service on telephone (685) 22 222 or to any police station near you.
Fa’afetai tele lava mo le lagolago Samoa!