SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – An inmate said he escaped from a Santa Fe prison on Monday by just walking through the front door.
Before law enforcement was notified about that escape, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies happened to run into him.
They were called to check on a man walking barefoot on New Mexico Highway 14.
Deputies offered him a ride.
“You don’t want to come back into Santa Fe? We can bring you in this way,” a deputy said.
“I’m alright,” the man responded.
What deputies didn’t know yet is that he had just come from that way, walking about five and half miles for nearly two hours from the Penitentiary of New Mexico.
Despite giving deputies a fake name and date of birth, the man was actually prison inmate Raymond Lopez.
Escaping from prison didn’t deter Lopez from hopping into the deputies’ car when they offered to take him to a homeless shelter for shoes.
That ride was cut short though.
“They just put out an alert that somebody either escaped from the jail or escaped from the prison,” a deputy questioned Lopez again.
“I didn’t,” Lopez replied.
“That’s not you?” the deputy asked.
“No,” he responded.
Deputies still were not convinced.
“Did you get out of jail in the last couple days?” the deputy asked. “Because you’re wearing like the boxers that are issued out of the jail and the prison.”
“I’ve had these forever,” Lopez said.
Despite his insistence, deputies informed him he would be detained and taken to the prison to check because he could not verify his identity.
Court documents show the inmate, considered low risk in minimum security at the prison, later admitted to it.
He said he was having issues with another inmate over drug money and was afraid for his safety. Lopez said he asked to be moved into protective custody.
After that request, Lopez said he was moved to a holding cell at the prison where he fished for regular clothes from a storage area.
After that, he claims he had no trouble escaping.
“He essentially just walked out, pushed the gate open and continued walking,” said spokesperson Juan Rios with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department.
Lopez said he went through an unlocked front door, an unlocked gate and then jumped a fence.
“The security at the facilities is a top priority and the incident that occurred yesterday was unacceptable,” said Corrections Department Secretary David Jablonski.
He said prisons statewide are on lockdown to review security measures and an investigation was launched into Lopez’ case.
“We’ll determine proper discipline, if any, on staff that may be involved,” Secretary Jablonski said.
He said a head count of inmates at about 12:45 p.m. revealed Lopez was gone.
Records show dispatch alerted deputies of the escape about two hours later.
Secretary Jablonski said in that time, the prison was doing a more extensive search at the facility before alerting law enforcement.
Still, he said the time of the notification will be part of the internal investigation.
Lopez’ criminal history includes burglary charges. He has also been charged for lying to deputies about his identity and escaping from prison.
The Corrections Department said Lopez is now in maximum security at the prison.