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Orange County suspect who fled hospital with machete wound captured in Burlington

‘I hit him in the back with this machete’: Boy to 911 operator

Listen to portions of Braydon Smith's call to 911 as he describes fending off an intruder with his machete. Smith said later that he hit the man in the back of the head, just above his neck with the machete after a break-in at his Mebane, NC home.
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Listen to portions of Braydon Smith's call to 911 as he describes fending off an intruder with his machete. Smith said later that he hit the man in the back of the head, just above his neck with the machete after a break-in at his Mebane, NC home.

A suspect who fled UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill with a machete wound inflicted by an 11-year-old boy was arrested Sunday afternoon in Alamance County, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said.

Jataveon Dashawn Hall, 19, has been charged with breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping, interfering with emergency communications and assault on a child under 12.

Burlington police, acting on an anonymous tip, arrested Hall at the home of his mother and stepfather Sunday afternoon, according to a news release. He was turned over to an Orange County deputy and taken to the Orange County jail under a $100,000 secured bail.

Hall did not have any medical complaints, officials said. He will appear at 2 p.m. Monday in Orange County District Court.

Hall left UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill against medical advice around 8 p.m. Friday, officials say. He is accused of breaking into a Mebane home and putting Braydon Smith, 11, in a closet at gunpoint. Deputies say Braydon struck the suspect in the head with a machete causing him to flee the home with two unidentified accomplices.

The other suspects — a man and a woman — have not been identified.

Blackwood released a statement earlier Sunday with more details about how Hall was able to flee the hospital.

The sheriff’s office followed what deputies thought was an established protocol for treating and then arresting a suspect, Blackwood said.

UNC Health Care officials, however, have said Hall was in the custody of the sheriff’s office, but a deputy did not stay with him. While hospital staff often alerts law enforcement about suspects who are being discharged, ”they remain the legal responsibility of law enforcement,” hospital officials said

UNC Health Care issued another statement Sunday, saying the Chapel Hill emergency department “was extremely busy taking care of multiple traumas simultaneously” Friday night, and staff was focused “100 percent” on patients.

“We did not intend to debate this issue with our colleagues from Orange County Sheriff’s Office. We appreciate our working relationship with them,” the statement said. “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.”

UNC Medical Center plans to continue working closely with the Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood issued a news release Sunday morning with more details about how a home invasion suspect, who was foiled by an 11-year-old boy with a machete, escaped authorities at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

Blackwood rejected the suggestion Hall was in the sheriff’s custody while at the hospital, since he had not yet been charged with the crime.

“I am not in the business of assigning blame,” Blackwood said. “We were focused on efforts to apprehend the suspect and ask for the community’s help. 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.”

Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes said protocol changes are being made.

“We expected to be notified prior to Hall’s discharge,” Sykes said. “When Hall left the hospital Friday evening against medical advice, we certainly should have been notified. But most concerning of all is that hospital police did not even know Hall had left the premises almost ten hours prior. Indeed, Hall’s absence was only discovered when we placed a phone call to them.”

Hospitals told about suspect

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies responding to Friday’s home invasion call alerted area hospitals to look out for someone with a head wound.

A man matching Hall’s description arrived at UNC Hospitals in Hillsborough early that afternoon. The hospital notified the sheriff’s office, and Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. R. Jones, who was eating lunch at the hospital, kept watch until investigators arrived, Blackwood said.

However, investigators did not have the legal authority to arrest Hall at that time, Blackwood said. Hospital police were asked to call the sheriff’s office before discharging Hall, so they could take him into custody, he said.

Sheriff’s Office Investigator Zach Baldwin said UNC Hospitals police Officer Brian Ellis told him Friday he would flag Hall in the hospital’s system.

“The arrangement all of our area law enforcement agencies have with hospital police of ensuring the eventual arrest of a suspect after the suspect receives medical care, has been in place for decades,” Sykes said. “I cannot remember another time when it has failed.”

Move to Chapel Hill

But Hall’s condition worsened, and the Hillsborough hospital transferred him to Chapel Hill.

When Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jones called the hospital in Chapel Hill at 5:53 a.m. Saturday to check on Hall, hospital police told him they would call back after a shift change, Blackwood said. Hospital Sgt. Polk called back at 6:26 a.m., he said.

Polk told Jones a nurse wrote in Hall’s chart at 8:23 p.m. Friday that he had left the hospital against medical advice, Blackwood said. Polk also said Hall told the nurse he needed to leave because police were going to be looking for him, Blackwood said.

Hospital police said they would review security videotape and call back, Blackwood said. Sgt. B. Wilkerson called the hospital police at 10:04 a.m. Saturday to see what they had found, Blackwood said.

The security video showed Hall leaving the hospital at 7:54 p.m. Friday wearing a hospital gown and blue socks, Blackwood said. He was carrying a cup and had a bandage wrapped around his head, police said.

Family wants answers

The experience has been frustrating and frightening, said Braydon’s mother, Kaitlin Johnson, who lives in Kentucky.

Johnson was on the phone with Braydon when the suspect broke in Friday. She told him to hide in his bedroom, and then contacted someone who could call Orange County 911.

Braydon and his father went ahead with a planned fishing trip this weekend, Johnson said. He will be traveling east this week for a baseball game and also spending time with family at the beach, said his aunt Ashley Matthews.

Johnson said Braydon is taking the home invasion — and his resulting fame — in stride.

“He has made national news, so I think at 11, he kind of thinks he’s somebody,” she said. “I don’t know how things will be after the dust settles. I don’t know how things will be once he knows the person that attacked him was lost.”

Friday was the first day he had stayed home alone, and it was only for a few hours, Johnson said. They taught him to be responsible and to stand up for himself, she said.

“You never think it’s going to happen to your kid,” Johnson said. “We are a family that (believes) violence is not the answer, but you defend yourself. You don’t allow yourself to be bullied. You do not allow yourself to let people run all over you.”

Matthews said the family has heard different stories about what happened at the hospitals, but no answers. Neither the sheriff’s office nor UNC wants to take responsibility, she said.

“We want to know why this guy (was able to flee),” Matthews said. “He turned himself in, pretty much. He went in the hospital on his own, and they still can’t —somebody dropped the ball and we want to know who it is.”

An Orange County judge set bail at $175,000 Monday, June 17, 2019 for Jataveon Dashawn Hall, 19, who is charged with breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping, interfering with emergency communications and assault on a child under 12.

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Tammy Grubb has written about Orange County’s politics, people and government since 2010. She is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and has lived and worked in the Triangle for over 25 years.
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