Exclusive: Motive uncovered in Los Gatos mom jail attack

The Investigative Unit obtained the incident report detailing why five inmates violently assaulted Shannon O’Connor sending her to the hospital last October

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As Shannon O’Connor awaited trial in the M1 units at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas, five female inmates violently attacked the Los Gatos mother sending her to Regional Medical Center with a head injury, a concussion, a broken nose and bruises to her ribs and upper back.

One of the attackers, Danielle Chavez, told investigators, “She was motivated to attack … O’Connor because she did not like the kind of charges that O’Connor was in custody for.”

These new details are revealed in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office’s incident report of the Oct. 24 jail attack, obtained exclusive by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit exclusively obtained the incident report on the jail attack.

O’Connor has been in custody without bail at Elmwood Correctional Facility for more than a year and a half. She faces 39 criminal counts for allegedly hosting multiple booze-filled parties for her underaged son and his underaged friends in 2020 and 2021. Prosecutors say, at times, the Los Gatos mother encouraged some of the minors to be sexual with each other. O’Connor has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the incident report, a Sheriff’s deputy was escorting O’Connor to her cell when other inmates in that cell “began to shout and make threats that they would beat her up.” Some of the inmates apparently knew about her child endangerment charges.

“So, prisoners have their own code of ethics, if you will, and they have a point where certain crimes are not acceptable,” said retired police detective Mike Leininger, referring to the child endangerment charges.

O’Connor told investigators that deputies asked if she wanted protective custody, but O’Connor reportedly declined even though she “felt intimidated.” Why O’Connor declined protective custody was not specified in the incident report.

“About ten minutes after … O’Connor was placed in the cell, she was attacked by” Danielle Chavez, Erika Amaya, Marianna Gardea, Anita Quiroz and Sophia Vigil.

One of the attackers said she assaulted O'Connor because she didn't like the kind of charges the Los Gatos mother was in custody for.

In March, the Investigative Unit was the first news organization to report on the jail attack. The Sheriff’s Office’s statement of facts reported, “The assault was carried out using hands and feet, and the level of force used was likely [to] produce great bodily injury … the assault lasted for approximately 16 seconds.”

According to the incident report, initially O’Connor, “did not want to seek prosecution against the inmates who attacked her” because “she was afraid of retaliation.” She also told an investigator “she remembered …Chavez said … O’Connor needed to pay each of the female inmates inside the dorm $300 a week” if she wanted to stay in that cell with them.” Chavez denied this allegation when officials asked her about it.

Court documents show Chavez, Gardea, Vigil, Amaya and Quiroz were prosecuted. They all pled no contest to the assault charge and were sentenced to 1 to 2 years in county jail and probation. The Investigative Unit reached out to their individual attorneys who either did not respond or said they had no comment.

“Should [an incarcerated person] be concerned about their safety? All prisoners should be concerned about their safety. There are gang issues. There are subsets of these gangs now. They all need to be concerned about their safety, and the [facility] also reacts accordingly,” said Leininger.

In a statement to the Investigative Unit, Santa Cara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said it, “continues to provide the highest level of security for our incarcerated individuals within our correctional facilities … Once housed, the risk assessment becomes an on-going process throughout the person’s incarcerations.”

O’Connor’s attorney had no comment.

Catch up on the Investigative Unit's reporting on Shannon O'Connor's criminal case:

Exclusive: What Los Gatos High School knew about Shannon O'Connor and what officials did about it

Los Gatos mom accused of hosting alcohol-fueled parties declines to change plea

Los Gatos mom attacked in jail, hospitalized

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