A North Carolina burglary suspect who was fought off by an 11-year-old boy with a machete was caught Sunday, nearly two days after he slipped away from the hospital where he was treated for a head wound. His capture came after a manhunt and finger-pointing about who was to blame for his escape.
Sgt. Shane Brown of the Burlington Police Department said Jataveon Dashawn Hall was arrested in an apartment there Sunday afternoon. Hall, 19, was returned to Orange County, where the sheriff's office said he faces charges including breaking and entering and assault.
Authorities said the boy was alone in the house in Mebane, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh, on Friday morning when Hall broke in after another suspect rang the doorbell and a third waited outside. Hall forced the boy into a closet and was stealing electronics when the boy emerged, grabbed a machete and hit the suspect in the head with the blade, drawing blood, according to the sheriff's office. The boy swung a second time but missed. Authorities didn't say where the machete had been stored.
Hall and the other suspects then fled.
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"When Hall realized he was bleeding, he dropped the electronics," left the home and departed with another man and a woman, the sheriff's office said.
It wasn't clear if Hall had an attorney; no phone listing for him could be found.
It was what happened after Hall sought treatment that raised questions about how he was guarded.
Hall went Friday afternoon to a UNC Hospital branch in Hillsborough, seeking treatment, according to Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, who said Hall was never in the custody of his office that day. Deputies were notified, and one waited in a public area of the hospital for more investigators to arrive, the sheriff's office said, adding that "at this point, Hall was only a suspect and there was no legal authority to hold him."
The sheriff then obtained warrants and asked hospital police to notify his office before discharging Hall, which Blackwood described as standard practice.
Hall was transferred to UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill because of the severity of his wound. But surveillance video shows Hall left the second hospital with his head wrapped in a bandage and wearing a hospital gown and blue socks around 8 p.m. Friday. A nurse noted in his chart shortly thereafter that he had left.
However, the sheriff's office said they weren't notified until the next morning when they called to inquire about him. The reason for the delay wasn't clear.
"I am not in the business of assigning blame," the sheriff said in a statement Sunday. "However, it has become clear to me that another statement was necessary to defend the actions of my deputies and investigators and to place this matter in the correct context."
UNC Health Care noted Sunday morning the sheriff didn't place a deputy to guard Hall, saying suspects under treatment "remain the legal responsibility of law enforcement." The hospital system added that "nurses and physicians cannot be both caregivers and law enforcement at the same time."
A sheriff's spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an email Sunday afternoon asking if the other two suspects had been identified or caught.
The boy's mother, Kaitlin Johnson, told WTVD-TV she was upset Hall had escaped from the hospital, adding, "It was infuriating."