SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — We are learning more about what happened when a 15-year-old escaped from a Spring Hill facility for troubled youth.
Police say the teenager, in the facility for unknown reasons, allegedly grabbed a Sonic waitress by the buttocks while running from the facility. He then reportedly ran to Kohl’s where he is accused of trying to carjack a woman in the parking lot.
It all started Monday afternoon when a young man at the Tennessee Children’s Home ran from the facility.
According to police, the campus is an unsecured facility in the middle of town on Main Street close to many businesses. The facility has no walls or gates surrounding it. The facility’s website says the “Tennessee Children’s Home is committed to improving the lives of those we influence through quality services in a Christian atmosphere.”
One of the first places the young man ran was past the nearby Sonic. It’s there that police say he grabbed or slapped a waitress on the rear end. The waitress would later tell the police she was shocked and thought it was a teen prank.
The waitress said, “I was going to beat him with my tray. That is disgusting. He’s only 15?”
Spring Hill Police Lieutenant Robert Carden said the 15-year-old put many people in danger.
“Absolutely!” said Lt. Carden.
By this time, the teen had reached Kohl’s department store. It’s there that he accosted a woman coming out of the store.
The woman told police that the teen asked to use her phone to call his mother. She told him, no, to go inside and ask there. It’s then that the woman says the teen opened up her passenger door, climbed in, and said, “Nothing against you, but I’m gonna take your car.” The woman told the police that she told the teen “No, you are not.”
“He was not leaving after I yelled at him, then after a bit, I had to punch him so he would leave,” she adds.
The call initially goes out to all officers as an attempted kidnapping in the Kohl’s parking lot. Sergeant Tommy Barber was close by and began heading to the department store. While responding, the 15-year-old ran right by him.
Sgt. Barber spins on the teen, cutting behind the car wash. He jumps out and the teen surrenders without incident throwing his hands into the air.
Now under arrest, Sgt. Barber brings the young man back to Kohl’s where the attempted carjacking victim positively identifies the 15-year-old in the back seat.
Barber asked the woman if the boy struck her and she defiantly said, “No, I punched him!”
News 2 went to the Tennessee Children’s Home for comment, but, due to COVID-19, the front lobby is locked. We also left a message with the group that was not returned.
Lt. Carden says youth from this facility have caused many problems over the years.
Tuesday, at his detention hearing in juvenile court, the youth pleaded guilty to “delinquency.” Police say if the teen was an adult the charges would be the equivalent to sexual battery and attempted carjacking. He is currently being kept at the Maury County Juvenile detention facility.
According to the Tennessee Children’s Home website:
The Spring Hill campus serves 32 at-risk males age 13 to 18 in a residential setting where they receive behavioral modification treatment using the Equip Program model. The Equip program is designed to teach youth to think and act responsibly through a peer help approach. The Spring Hill campus is also home to The Cornerstone School, our fully certified state school which helps meet the educational needs of those we serve.
In December of 2019, the property on Main Street was sold and thus began a transition into a new campus which anticipates completion by the end of 2021. If you would like to help financially please donate through the donate link on our home page or mail your check marked “Spring Hill Capital Campaign” to PO Box 10, Spring Hill, TN, 37174
The Spring Hill campus offers treatment for displaced families and residential care for boys 13-18 years of age. Children placed in residential care live in a group environment with a house parents/residential counselors.
Jennifer Donnals with the Department of Children’s Services tells News 2 the agency does not comment on matters involving juveniles.
State law prohibits us from commenting directly on cases involving youth in DCS custody; however, the safety and security of the youth placed into DCS custody and the public are the department’s top priorities and any time a juvenile absconds from a treatment facility it is a concern. The security levels at facilities where DCS places youth vary widely based on the treatment needs of the youth and their safety concerns. Tennessee Children’s Home in Spring Hill treats youth who have been adjudicated both delinquent and dependent and neglected who require a less secure and less intensive group care setting. The program is intended to integrate the youth within the community while providing structure, education, therapeutic support, behavioral intervention and other mental health treatment. It does not have the same level of security of facilities where youth who commit serious crimes are placed for treatment while in state custody.Jennifer Donnals, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services