SOLEDAD – Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) officials are investigating the death of an inmate as a homicide.

At around 11:20 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12, staff responded to a disturbance inside a Facility B housing unit cell. Staff observed inmate Jose Alcantar-Ortega, 19, lying on the floor. An alarm was sounded and responding staff immediately removed Alcantar-Ortega from the cell. Two suspects were removed from the cell without incident, and two inmate-manufactured weapons were recovered at the scene.

Medical staff began lifesaving measures, and Alcantar-Ortega was transported to an outside hospital for treatment of multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and upper chest. He later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 5:52 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15.

Inmates Alberto Cortez, 26, and Jaime Romero, 25, have been named as suspects. They are being held in SVSP’s Administrative Segregation Unit as the incident is investigated. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is assisting in the investigation. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

Alcantar-Ortega was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on Nov. 16, 2016, from San Mateo County to serve 16 years for two counts of second-degree robbery. In September 2017, he was convicted of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and sentenced to an additional seven years. He was scheduled to parole in 2034.

Cortez was received by CDCR on Nov. 17, 2014, from Monterey County to serve 35 years to life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. In September 2016, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer/firefighter and criminal gang activity, and sentenced to an additional nine years.

Romero was received by CDCR on Aug. 20, 2014, from San Mateo County to serve 17 years, four months for assault with a semiautomatic firearm, resisting a peace officer resulting in death or serious injury, and possess/own firearm by a felon or addict.

SVSP opened in May 1996 on approximately 300 acres in Monterey County. The institution provides long-term housing for approximately 3,500 minimum- and maximum custody male inmates and employs 1,395 people.

Contact: Lt. Eduardo Mazariegos, (831) 678-5554