Police say behavioral center didn't disclose history of escaped teens

The exterior of the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center.
The exterior of the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center.

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A Summerville police officer's dash camera was rolling when he pulled up to the Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center on April 20.

The officer tried to get some fast information on four runaways who hopped a fence and fled, but it took 12 minutes for anyone from the facility to talk to Officer Trey Hardy.

"They don't seem too concerned about it here," Hardy said.

The staff member who came out had trouble giving clothing descriptions for three of the missing youngsters. She did not tell Hardy the runaways posed a danger to the community.

"They called us because they needed our help and in order to assist them we need to know every bit of information that we could possibly put out there for other officers and the community as well," said Sgt. Cassandra Williams with the Summerville Police Department.

Police found out the four had apparent violent pasts from the Washington, D.C. media.

"That's actually how we found out who we were actually dealing with," Williams said.

The last of the four teens was been taken into custody Wednesday. The D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services says 19-year-old Delonte Parker was captured by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force in D.C. The other three youths were apprehended a day after they escaped.

On the dash cam video, Hardy asked why the teens were sent to the center from Washington.

"Are they criminal or mental?" Hardy asked.

"A little of both," said a Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health Center employee. "They're juveniles sent here because of psychiatric issues and they may have come here because they committed a crime."

Police say they could have caught the teens more quickly if they had all the information.

Parker is facing charges of attempted murder in Washington, D.C. There is no word if the four will be returned to the Summerville facility. Officials there have declined to comment because of privacy laws.

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