HDSP officials investigate death of incarcerated person as a homicide

Officials at High Desert State Prison and the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the June 28 death of a 29-year-old inmate as a possible homicide.

According to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, at approximately 11:30 p.m., June 27, inmate Erik S. Montes alerted staff that his cellmate was unresponsive and an emergency announcement was made. CDCR reported staff arrived and began life saving measures.

The victim was transported to HDSP’s Treatment and Triage Area. At 12:07 a.m., medical staff pronounced the victim deceased. His name is being withheld at the request of his family.

Montes, who has been identified as a suspect in the case, according to the statement, was rehoused in the institution’s Administrative Segregation Unit pending the outcome of the investigation.

The victim was received from San Francisco County on March 6, 2018. He was sentenced to seven years for assault with a firearm.

Montes was received from San Mateo County on Oct. 4, 2016. He was sentenced to 28 years for second-degree attempted murder, with enhancements of inflicting great bodily injury to a victim, the Street Gang Act and resisting an officer. He also was sentenced to one year in San Mateo County for an in-prison offense of possessing or manufacturing a deadly weapon.

The HDSP Investigative Services Unit and the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office are continuing their investigation. The Office of the Inspector General has been notified.

HDSP, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 3,283 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The prison provides academic classes, vocational instruction, work assignments and rehabilitation programs and employs more than 1,200 people. For more information, visit cdcr.ca.gov