SAN DIEGO – A San Marcos man held at the George Bailey Detention Facility died Wednesday after he and another person were found unresponsive in a security check, county sheriff’s officials said.
About 8 a.m., 25-year-old Omar Ornelas and another unnamed incarcerated man were found in their jail cell, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Steffen said. The second man was revived by authorities using Naloxone, a drug used to treat overdoses, and transported to an area hospital.
Efforts to save Ornelas were made by deputies, medical staff and paramedics, but he was pronounced dead sometime later, Steffen said.
Ornelas was booked in November 2018 into the Vista Detention Facility for violating the terms of his probation for vandalism less than $400 and committing a crime to benefit a gang. Less than a month later, Oceanside police added more charges for Ornelas, including murder, discharge of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and committing a crime to benefit a gang, according to Steffen.
He had been at the Otay Mesa-based detention facility since December.
The cause of Ornelas’ death is being investigated by the sheriff’s Homicide Unit. An autopsy on Ornelas is slated to be performed Thursday
No further details were immediately available.
His death comes at a time when the sheriff’s department is facing growing scrutiny for inmate deaths following the release of a blistering report by the California State Auditor. In it, Michael Tilden wrote that the agency “has failed to adequately prevent and respond” to the issue of jail deaths and called for legislative action to address it.
Nora Vargas, vice chair of the county Board of Supervisors, said the report “sheds light on (a) deeply troubling issue in this county” while colleague Jim Desmond called it “a wake-up call.”
The Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego on Wednesday held a news conference with several families to ask the District Attorney’s office to prosecute deputies or resign as jail deaths keep happening.
City News Service contributed to this report.