SAN FRANCISCO—On January 30, Matthew Hay-Chapman, 55, was at Golden Gate Park when he spotted a suspicious man exit a van outside of a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District. According to Hay-Chapman, the man went into McDonald’s across the park. Hay-Chapman called the police, which led to the arrest of 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, and 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu who had been hiding inside the van.
Nayeri and Tieu had escaped from the Orange County Jail on January 22, and Hay-Chapman’s call ended a statewide manhunt when he reported the sighting to police. Hay-Chapman was homeless, living in the Botanical Garden within the park. He claimed to have recognized the stolen van from reading the newspaper every day.
There was a $200,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the fugitives. On Tuesday, March 15, the Orange County Board of Supervisors announced the approval of Hay Chapman’s reward sum of $100,000 for his public service that led two fugitives to be brought into custody.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr commended Hay-Chapman for “having the courage and for being that observant and that sharp.” Hay-Chapman has mentioned using the reward money to help him get his life back in order, as well as to assist his children; his daughter who is disabled, and his son who struggles with substance abuse and addiction.
Additional amounts totaling up to $50,000 were also awarded to three other people; Hazel Javier and Jeffrey Arana were two of the recipients who had reported a fugitive sighting to police after the convicts were seen shopping in a Target in Rosemead. Both store employees were awarded $15,000 each.
According to reports, the fugitives had gone to the department store to purchase cellphones on the day of their escape. Javier is the manager of the Target, Arana is the loss-prevention officer and was monitoring two of the men as they were “acting suspiciously in the store.” The third recipient, Armando Damien, was rewarded $20,000 for cooperating and being the owner of the stolen van.