By Mark Gutglueck
For the second time in two weeks, a female deputy on Monday was violently attacked by at least two female inmates at the West Valley Detention Center.
There was concern within the sheriff’s command echelon in the aftermath of a November 13 coordinated attack in which a deadly weapon was used against a deputy that the incident presaged a general uprising of the jail’s female population. That attack involved physical action on the part of two inmates and the passive involvement of at least one and perhaps two other inmates who served as the “eyes and ears” of the two active participants so they could time their attack to achieve maximum impact. That attack was so unsettling that the department initiated an investigation of the incident and its context, utilizing internal and external investigators, including ones already assigned to the West Valley Detention Center as well as detectives operating out of the sheriff’s department headquarters who are assigned to the sheriff’s command echelon or the department’s intelligence unit.
While the full range of findings from that initial investigation are not now publicly known, fears that what occurred on November 13 was not an isolated incident seemed to be confirmed when a second attack, utilizing not identical but significantly similar tactics intended to get the deputy who was attacked to break security protocol and put herself into an abnormally vulnerable position, occurred.
According to the sheriff’s department, “On Monday, November 25, 2019, at approximately 11:52 am, a female deputy sheriff at the West Valley Detention Center was providing meals to inmates inside a housing unit. The deputy observed two inmates in one of the housing segments fighting. Inmate Yesenia Alejandre was choking inmate Adeola Ade Ekisola and the two appeared to be in a fight. In fear one of the inmates would be injured, the deputy immediately entered the cell to intervene. Once in the cell, the deputy was attacked by Ekisola and the two fought until other deputies arrived to assist. It was determined through investigation that the fight between the inmates had been staged to gain access to the deputy when she entered the cell for the sole purpose of attacking her.”
According to the department, “The deputy received minor injuries during the attack and was treated and released back to duty.”
The deputy in Monday’s incident fared somewhat better than the deputy involved in the November 13 attack.
In that misadventure, at approximately 6:12 pm, while making routine rounds within the housing unit for female prisoners, a deputy saw an inmate, Rose Marie Villalobos, 32, hovering over another inmate, 24-year-old Kyanna Renee Patterson, who was prone on the housing unit floor. Villalobos was feigning rendering assistance to Patterson, whose twitching and body contortions simulated an epileptic seizure.
As the deputy positioned herself to render assistance to Patterson, Villalobos threw a cup of vomit into the deputy’s face, punched her and slashed her face with a razor. Villalobos took the deputy’s radio and used it to strike the deputy repeatedly in the head.
Patterson also used a cup to physically assault the deputy, according to the department.
Sheriff’s department custody personnel monitoring video images streamed into a secure area located elsewhere in the West Valley Detention Center spotted signs that the attack was underway within 30 seconds of its onset, and several deputies flooded into the housing unit and restrained Patterson and Villalobos, bringing to a close the assault upon the deputy.
It appeared that at least one other inmate, identified as Amber Rae Tena, had acted as a watch-out to alert Villalobos and Patterson when the deputy was approaching so they could time the simulation of the seizure and later to alert them when any additional sheriff’s department personnel were approaching.
The deputy who had been attacked was immediately transferred to a local hospital for treatment. The injuries she sustained were far more serious than those suffered by the deputy targeted in the November 25 attack.
Investigators have interested themselves in the conditions within the women’s housing unit as well as the criminal histories of those inmates known or believed to have been involved in the November 13 and November 25 attacks.
Ekisola, 33, was arrested and placed into custody earlier this month on suspicion of child abuse. She had no previous criminal charges against her in San Bernardino County Superior Court.
Yesenia Alejandre, 31, who goes by the aliases Yesenia Alejandre Tapia, Yesenia Alejandra Tapia, Yesenia Tapia Alejandre and Yesenia Alejandra, was arrested in 2016 on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance without a valid prescription, a misdemeanor. Thereafter, in 2016, 2017 and 2018, she failed to appear at scheduled arraignments on the charge. She was arraigned before Judge Jon Ferguson on July 24 of this year. On July 31, before Judge David Williams, the proceedings against her were suspended when doubt about her mental status arose. Thereafter, a packet of medical documents was presented to the court by one Doctor Mendel Feldsher, M.D. A series of hearings followed, during which her placement into the county’s mental health system was to be discussed. Those hearings concluded and a progress report on her status is due for a court hearing on January 10, 2010.
Alejandre was twice arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2018. She failed to appear for her arraignments on those charges on January 7 and on January 19 of this year and was subsequently arraigned on those charges on July 24 at the same time as her arraignment on the earlier charge. The resolution of the case likewise is dependent on the outcome of her mental health evaluation. On July 21 of this year she was arrested for battery and obstruction of and resisting a police officer. That incident apparently involved the use of a potentially deadly weapon. She pleaded not guilty to those charges and the resolution of that case has been suspended pursuant to the completion of her mental health evaluation. She was again arrested for being in possession of or under the influence of a controlled substance on July 16. She pleaded not guilty to that charge on October 17. The outcome of that case is likewise dependent on the mental health evaluation she is currently undergoing. She was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance on July 19 and charged with that offense on August 28, whereinafter she entered a not guilty plea on October 17. The case remains open, pursuant to the mental health proceedings ongoing.
At the time of the November 13 attack, Rose Marie Villalobos was serving time for an incident that occurred on April 3 of this year, which was originally charged in an April 5 filing as felony assault with a non-firearm deadly weapon in a way that was likely to cause great bodily injury. That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor in a plea arrangement entered before Judge Richard Peel on July 22. Villalobos, who has used the alias Rosemary Hernandez, had previously been arrested for battery that occurred on August 26, 2016. She was charged with a misdemeanor on that offense, which was then dismissed subject to a conditional plea arrangement. That dismissal was rescinded and the charge revived, however, after her arrest and conviction for the April 3, 2019 assault with a deadly weapon. In 2009, she was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon while in custody, a felony. On July 2, 2007, she was charged with attempted murder, infliction of great bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm stemming from an incident on June 28 of that year. The attempted murder and great bodily injury charges were dismissed in return for her plea to assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm in a manner likely to result in great bodily injury.
Kyanna Patterson is in custody on a series of yet outstanding cases. One is based upon an incident that occurred in August 2018, in which she was charged with battery against a police officer. She pleaded not guilty to that charge before Judge Ingrid Uhler on August 16, 2018. That case remains active. She has another misdemeanor battery case stemming from an incident on September 29, 2018 pending against her. Additionally, based on her action on August 21, 2018, she is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, evading a police officer with wanton disregard for the safety of others and hit and run driving resulting in injury or death, all of which are felonies and are yet pending.
Investigators believe Amber Rae Tena and perhaps others assisted Villalobos and Patterson in the November 13 attack. Tena, who also goes by the aliases Amber Word and Amber Rodriguez, was in custody on misdemeanor petty theft and assault charges when she was charged with assault by a prisoner and then both manufacturing a weapon while in custody and being in possession of that weapon.
While there are suggestions that the November 13 and November 25 attacks are part of a wider pattern of violence in which prisoners chaffing under the restrictions of custody are plotting to wreak revenge upon their captors, a countervailing theory is that the incidents were either completely unrelated or that the second attack was a copycat event perpetrated by a set of inmates who were far less hardened than Villalobos and Patterson.
One issue under focus is the inmates’ access to items from the jail’s commissary as well as other items used for personal hygiene that can be adapted for use as weapons. Related to this is the degree to which the inmates have been denied access to amenities and privileges, leading to an atmosphere of discontent and festering anger on the part of inmates over what they consider to be unreasonably harsh conditions.
Officially, the department maintains that its charges at the jails are treated humanely. Rather, according to the department, it is the department’s personnel who are being maltreated by the inmates.
“It is because of incidents like this that our department appreciates the support of legislators such as Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez,” said Sheriff John McMahon. “Assemblyman Rodriguez introduced legislation specially to address the threat of these violent attacks. Additional measures are needed to help keep our staff safe and to hold suspects accountable.”
By Mark Gutglueck