Patrick Hale of rural Tennessee heard that two escaped fugitives were seen near his home. He quickly loaded his guns and got into his car with his daughter, expecting to flee.
Then he saw the wanted men approaching him. For some reason, they thought his car was a police vehicle and laid down in his driveway, surrendering.
Hale held the criminals until police arrived.
“I realized I had two ex-cons wanted for murder who had just shot at law enforcement who had nothing to lose and for some reason they surrendered and laid down on the concrete in my driveway,” Patrick Hale said Friday. “If that doesn’t make you believe in Jesus Christ, I don’t know what does.”
Hale said friends had just alerted him that the fugitives wanted in the slayings of two prison guards had been spotted in his area of rural Tennessee, so he quickly loaded his guns. Moments later, he saw them climb over his fence and approach his home, where he was alone with his little girl.
He decided to flee — getting into his car with his girl. Then, just as he prepared for the worst, the inmates took off their shirts and waved them in the air in a sign of surrender. He thinks they mistook his car for a law enforcement vehicle.
He said he never had to pull out his weapon — but the wait was agonizing. More than 45 police officers began showing up within three minutes, he said.
“I cannot tell you how grateful I was to see them arrive,” Hale said.
The fugitives murdered two prison guards during their escape and stole four cars during their flight from Georgia to Tennessee.
“We’ve had an armed home invasion,” the man told a 911 dispatcher . “It’s the two people from Georgia, escapees. They’re in a black Jeep Cherokee Trailblazer. We need help out here quick … hurry!”
His wife can be heard sobbing as he tries to reassure her, saying: “It’s all right. You’ve survived. You’ve survived. You did it. You did a good job. Come here and let me hold you.”
Deputies spotted the car and chased it for 20 miles (32 kilometers) at high-speed, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Miller said.
Rutherford County Sheriff Michael Fitzhugh said the suspects fired shots, striking several cruisers, but his deputies weren’t hit and didn’t return fire to avoid endangering other motorists on Interstate 24 southeast of Nashville.
The chase ended with a crash near the community of Christiana, Tennessee. With deputies in hot pursuit, the suspects left the weapons they had stolen from their guards in the couple’s wrecked car, and ran through trees to Hale’s property.
Miller said the homeowner held them at gunpoint until deputies arrived. But Hale said he wanted to set the record straight: “I had a weapon on me, but I never had to draw the weapon as has been in the news.”
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said he’s “totally grateful to everyone involved.”
“True bravery is what’s caused us to stand before you tonight to talk about a successful capture instead of a tragic incident,” he said.
It certainly took a lot of guts to stand there and watch over prisoners until the police arrived. Would he have done it if he was unarmed? I wouldn’t.
The two murdered prison guards were Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue. They were killed with their own weapons when the fugitives somehow got through the security door separating the prisoners from the cab and were overpowered.