Suspected chronic tire slasher released due to jail overcrowding

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Drivers in Central Fresno can't believe that a months-long search for a chronic tire slasher ended in the suspect's release.

49-year-old Edward Gonzalez walked out of the Fresno County Jail Monday and deputies say it's all because of overcrowding.

Neighbors on Hampton Way are alert again after hearing the news. They've been installing cameras and stashing cars in their backyards. They've taken these preventive measures because of Gonzales.

"They arrest him, they put him in jail, then they release him. And then this morning they are saying on the news, please report it to crime stoppers we are looking for the guy. You just had him," said Jeffrey Schneider, who had his tires slashed multiple times.

It's not difficult to understand why they're so upset. Families say Gonzalez has been terrorizing the street for months. Just weeks after officers arrested him for slashing tires, he's out of jail.

"We totally get their frustration, but unfortunately this is a system we have to follow, we don't have much space to deal with," said Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Gonzales was booked into the jail's psych unit, and when all of the beds reached full capacity Monday, he was the least dangerous offender the jail could release.

"Mental illness is one of the most competitive areas of our jail. To only have 72 beds to play with becomes difficult. Who you keep and who you don't," said Botti

Deputies say the new jail currently under construction will house fewer overall inmates but is designed with mental illness in mind. A majority of beds will be for those needing treatment.

"Our concern is that if he is willing to so nonchalantly just stab a tire in front of a camera, smoking a cigarette, and basically laughing at the system, there is no telling what his mental illness is going to escalate into," said Schneider.
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