Two inmates die within two weeks in county detention facilities

Inmate Francisco Ponce Jr. is pronounced dead at Bob Wiley Detention Facility, the second such inmate in as many weeks

TULARE COUNTY – A second inmate has died in Tulare County detention facilities in as many weeks. 

According to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office an inmate died at Bob Wiley Detention Facility. An investigation is underway. 

The Sheriff’s office stated at approximately 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, correctional deputies and medical staff at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility found inmate, Francisco Ponce Jr., 24, unresponsive. Deputies and the medical staff immediately administered first-aid and EMS was requested. EMS arrived on scene and took over life saving measures. However, they were unsuccessful. Ponce Jr. was pronounced dead. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Detective Unit took over the investigation.  Ponce Jr. was housed by himself. An Autopsy will be scheduled to determine the cause of death.

Two weeks ago on Sunday, Feb. 27, correctional deputies in the South County Detention Facility found inmate Rodney Suell, 41, suffering from a medical emergency. According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies and medial staff took over the scene with lifesaving measures, but Suell was pronounced dead.

Sheriff’s Log
Friday, March 11
Before 11 a.m., detectives from TRATT (Tulare Regional Auto Theft Task Force) were conducting an investigation of a stolen car found at a home in the 21800 block of Avenue 295 in Exeter.  During their investigation, detectives identified Mykel Rhodes, 27, as the person who stole the vehicle. More stolen property was found at the home. Ag detectives were able to also tie Brandon Hammers, 33, to several of the stolen items found at the home. The Tulare County Sheriff’s ag crimes unit is asking for the public’s help in finding Hammers. He is currently wanted on multiple active arrest warrants. Rhodes was booked at the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office pre-trial facility for possession of a stolen vehicle and is being held on $25,000 bail. Anyone with information is urged to contact detective Isidro Ibarra or Sgt. David De La Cruz at 1-800-808-0488, or anonymously at [email protected], or by text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.

Wednesday, March 9
At approximately 7 p.m., deputies were called to the Dollar General at 14351 Road 192 in Poplar for an armed robbery. When they arrived, deputies learned a man walked into the store, pulled out a gun, demanded money and then pistol-whipped the clerk. The suspect got away with some cash from the safe. The clerk received minor injuries and was treated on scene. Anyone with information, is asked to call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218.

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