I-Team: Public not aware of additional escape from DCS facility - WSMV News 4

I-Team: Public not aware of additional escape from DCS facility

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Gateway to Independence correctional facility in Nashville (WSMV) Gateway to Independence correctional facility in Nashville (WSMV)

While cameras from TV helicopters captured the arrest of an escaped young offender following a riot Monday at a DCS facility, the News 4 I-Team has uncovered that the public didn’t know of another escape that ended in a dangerous crime.

During the riot, police say 17-year-old Jamie Carter, escaped from the Gateway to Independence facility through a sally port when the others began to riot.

Court and police records show on Dec. 26, 2017, another young offender, Austin Kebert, escaped from the facility and disappeared.

RELATED STORY: Teens’ escape leads juvenile detention facility to reevaluate security

A month later, McMinnville police ultimately caught Kebert, after they said he burglarized a pawn shop and stole guns, including an AK-47.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson confirmed that like Carter, Kebert escaped through the sally port.

In Kebert’s case, Johnson wrote that a facility employee accidentally hit a door release as a group of students was walking near the sally port.

Once inside, Kebert climbed to the room, just as Carter would do three months later, according to Johnson.

“The department has had existing funding requests to remove the sally port ladder and to install an additional exterior security fence,” Johnson wrote in an email.

But unlike Carter, Kebert escaped the facility until McMinnville police apprehended him after surveillance video captured him inside the burglarized pawn shop.

According to a McMinnville police incident report, Kebert admitted he was paid $200 by an unknown man to break into the pawn shop and steal the guns.

Kebert and Carter’s are just the latest escapes in the last six months at GTI; in October 2017, the News 4 I-Team reported on how students broke through windows to try and escape.

Meshel Williams, whose son is inside GTI, said the public is often unaware of what’s occurring inside the facility.

Williams said when she heard of the escape and the riot Monday, she was not surprised.

“I was just like, oh my God, here we go again,” Williams said. “There should be a big concern. a lot of those kids up there are there for extremely violent crimes.”

Williams said Monday’s escape and riot proves GTI still faces major problems.

Williams’ son’s attorney filed paperwork with the courts to try and remove him from GTI, writing the the facility is “dangerous and unsafe.”

“They're so understaffed, one or two guards can't control all the boys,” she said.

“The department believes that current security staffing at GTI is sufficient – although there’s always room for improvement. Staff members are showing up for work as expected,” Johnson emailed.

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