(Reuters) – North Carolina police were hunting on Sunday for a suspected burglar who was fought off by an 11-year-old boy with a machete and later fled a hospital where he had sought treatment for a head wound before police could arrest him.
Jataveon Dashawn Hall, 19, is accused of breaking into a home in Hillsborough on Friday and forcing the boy into a closet while he gathered the family’s electronics, according to a statement by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy fought back and hit Hall in the head with a machete, the statement said.
Hall soon walked into the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill seeking treatment, the statement said, and workers there notified sheriff’s deputies, including an officer who happened to be eating lunch at the center. Local hospitals had been told to look out for a man with a head wound.
The sheriff’s office said its officers did not have the legal authority to arrest Hall at that point, and that it took some time to get the required warrants from a magistrate.
Before Friday was over, Hall had discharged himself from the hospital “against medical advice,” the sheriff’s office said in its statement, lamenting a breakdown in a system it said had otherwise worked well for years, with sheriff’s deputies not discovering Hall was missing until calling a nurse on Saturday morning.
“When Hall left the hospital Friday evening against medical advice, we certainly should have been notified,” the statement said. “But most concerning of all is that hospital police did not even know Hall had left the premises almost ten hours prior.”
UNC Health Care, which runs the hospital, released its own statement saying they “did not intend to debate this issue” with the sheriff’s staff.
“However, we believe this situation highlights the issue that emergency department nurses and physicians cannot be both caregivers and law enforcement at the same time,” it said, noting that the emergency department was dealing with multiple trauma patients on Friday. “Our nurses and physicians focus 100 percent of their time on providing care to patients – that is their job.”
Hall is wanted on charges of breaking and entering, kidnapping and assaulting a child.
He was seen on surveillance video leaving dressed in a hospital gown, blue socks and carrying a cup of water. His head was bandaged, the sheriff’s office said.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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