VIDEO: Interview with homeless man who helped capture Orange County fugitives in San Francisco

ByVic Lee KGO logo
Thursday, February 4, 2016
EXCLUSIVE: Homeless man helps capture SoCal fugitives in SF
A homeless man is being credited with helping capture two dangerous fugitives in San Francisco over the weekend. He spoke exclusively with ABC7 News about how it all unfolded.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A homeless man is being credited with helping capture two of the three dangerous fugitives in San Francisco. The three inmates broke the Orange County Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana on Jan. 22 and were on the run for more than a week.

On Friday, 43-year-old Bac Duong surrendered to authorities. The two other fugitives, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri and 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, were caught in the Bay Area the following day after police received a tip.

The hero in the story is a man who's been down on his luck. He's homeless and had to quit his jobs because of chronic back pain.

Matthew Hay-Chapman lives in Golden Gate Park and hangs around the Haight Ashbury. He always gets his news from the papers in the newspaper bins and plus, he has a keen eye.

"I routinely come to McDonald's every morning cause I live in the area homeless," said Hay-Chapman.

WATCH: The story of how a homeless man helped SF police catch the SoCal fugitives

A homeless man is being credited with helping capture two dangerous fugitives in San Francisco over the weekend. He spoke with ABC7 News about how it all unfolded.

But Saturday was anything but routine for Hay-Chapman. The 55-year-old homeless man was about to get a cup of coffee when he noticed the white van police were looking for, the one officials said the fugitives stole.

The van was parked at the Whole Foods store next to McDonald's.

"I noticed people were sleeping in there cause the windows were all steamed up cause of heavy, heavy condensation," Hay-Chapman said. "I thought to myself, there are two people in that van cause I used to live in a GMC van many years ago when I had a job. Then I looked at the plates. No plates."

Suddenly, one of the fugitives got out. Hay-Chapman recognized Nayeri from the papers he'd read every morning. He said he has a photographic memory.

"I tell myself, 'that's the dude, that's got to be the guy,'" he stated.

MORE: Timeline of search effort for 3 escaped Orange County inmates

A police car appeared from the nearby Park Police Station.

"I'm like this flagging him down," said Hay-Chapman. "And I point and he sees me. He's across the street, directly across the street. And I'm going (gestures) cause I'm right behind holding my cane like this. Body language, boom! That's the guy!"

He went on to explain, "He bolts, the officer on foot bolts after him. Another officer comes over in his cruiser. I said, 'They're that way!'"

MORE: Kidnapped cab driver says 1 of 3 Orange County inmates saved his life

A chase ensued and Nayeri, a stranger to the neighborhood, ran right up to the last place he wanted to be.

"He ran up to the police station," said Hay-Chapman. "And that's all I saw of it."

Then Hay-Chapman led police to the van still parked at Whole Foods. Hiding inside was Tieu.

Police told Hay-Chapman he may qualify for $140,000 reward. Hay-Chapman said he was only doing the right thing, but if he received the money, he would use it to start a new life and help his grown children who have also had some tough times.