A Caddo Mills area resident is being credited for assisting in the capture of a juvenile fugitive who escaped from law enforcement authorities earlier this week.

The 15-year-old male managed to sneak away from Presbyterian Hospital of Greenville and remain on the loose for almost 24 hours, wearing little more than his underwear. But he was unlucky enough to cross paths with someone who lives next door to a Texas Department of Public Safety officer, a neighbor who just happened to be armed.

John David Barnes makes his living as a senior project manager for the family concrete masonry business in Dallas and never imagined he would one day be participating in a citizen’s arrest.

“That was pretty exciting,” Barnes said. “How often does the average guy get to do something like that?”

Trooper J. E. Simpson with the Texas Highway Patrol office in Greenville said what Barnes did was anything but average.

“He deserves to get some recognition for coming forward like that,” Simpson said.

Simpson said the juvenile suspect, who lives in Texarkana, had been arrested in Hopkins County Monday morning on charges of narcotics trafficking and weapons possession.

“He had dope and everything else on him,” Simpson said of the individual, whose name was not released because of his age.

That afternoon, prior to his being booked into the Hunt County Juvenile Detention Center on a hold for Hopkins County, the juvenile was transported to the emergency room at the hospital for examination.

While awaiting the results of X-rays, the juvenile was alleged to have slipped away. Simpson, who was on duty at the time, heard the area wide bulletin asking for officers to be on the lookout for the individual.

After getting off duty that night, Simpson drove to his residence off of Farm-To-Market Road 3211, just north of Caddo Mills, where he ran into Barnes.

“I told him to keep his eyes open for the guy,” Simpson said, before giving a vivid description.

“He was supposed to be blonde, blue-eyed, five foot and 10 inches tall, wearing boxer shorts and tennis shoes and no shirt,” Simpson said.

The next morning, Barnes was heading out the door to go to work.

“I open my garage up and said, ‘What are the odds?’,” Barnes recalled.

There, walking a short distance away on FM 3211, was the suspect, still clad only in his underwear and tennis shoes.

Barnes dialed 911, reached the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, and informed them he had spotted the suspect. Barnes followed the juvenile in his pickup, keeping a safe distance away.

“He had seen me ... because he kept looking back at me,” Barnes said.

He dialed 911 a second time, to keep the sheriff’s office up to date on the suspect’s location.

“This guy started running toward me,” Barnes said. The suspect had something in his hand, Barnes noted, although he did not know at the time that it was only the wadded up hospital gown.

It was at this point that Barnes took action.

“I had told the dispatcher before that I had a concealed handgun license and I could take him down if I needed to,” Barnes said.

As the juvenile approached, Barnes got out of his truck and pointed his handgun at the suspect.

“It’s kind of like American Express, I never leave home without it,” Barnes said. “I told him to stop, turn around, get on his knees and put his hands behind his back.”

The suspect complied and Barnes could tell then that he had no fight left in him.

“He had chigger bites and mosquito bites and cuts and scrapes all over him,” Barnes said. “He was pretty tore up. I asked him his name, but my adrenaline was pumping so hard I can’t even remember it.”

Greenville police and Hunt County sheriff’s officers arrived moments later and took the suspect into custody without incident.

Barnes is thankful the situation did not become violent, but he adds he would not have hesitated to protect his wife and children.

“No matter how old they are, I didn’t want someone like that around my family,” Barnes said.

Simpson believes Barnes deserves a pat on the back for his efforts.

“It took a lot of courage for him to have acted they way he did,” Simpson said of his neighbor.

Barnes, for his part, hopes it is the last time he has to make an arrest.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

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