Shootout victim not under arrest or police guard when he left UNC Hospitals

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comApril 9, 2013 

Larry Alexander Leverett is wanted by the Southern_Pines Police Department after he escaped from a UNC-Hospital in Chapel Hill, where he was being treated for gunshot wounds. He is also considered an absconder by the N.C. Department of Correction because he is currently serving three years probation for felony assault inflicting serious injury.

N.C. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION — N.C. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION

A Moore County man who walked out of UNC Hospitals on Saturday after being involved in a shootout in Southern Pines was never under police guard during his time at the hospital because police hadn’t convinced hospital officials that he was under arrest, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Southern Pines police said that Larry Alexander Leverett “was under the control and supervision of the University of North Carolina Police Department” before he left UNC Hospitals on Saturday less than 24 hours after suffering four gunshot wounds. Southern Pines police said they had arrest warrants for Leverett, 21, related to the shooting.

But police did not accompany Leverett to the hospital and did not provide copies of the warrants, said Stephanie Mahin, media relations manager for UNC Hospitals.

“Mr. Leverett was a patient. He was never under arrest,” Mahin said. “That’s important. A law enforcement agency may say, ‘There are warrants on this person,’ but that information has to be verified.”

She said the hospital follows a set protocol when a prison inmate or someone in police custody arrives for treatment. Usually, the arresting agency provides a guard, which did not happen with Leverett.

Mahin said in some cases hospital police will provide a guard to monitor a patient if the arresting agency requests it.

Southern Pines police Lt. Rodney Hardy said Tuesday that he called the UNC Chapel Hill Police Department prior to Leverett’s arrival at UNC Hospitals on Friday and spoke with an officer.

“I told the officer that [Leverett] was wanted for felony probation violations out of Moore County, and that he was a victim in our case at that point,” Hardy said. “I did let them know.”

Leverett was flown by helicopter to the hospital late Friday afternoon, following a shootout at an apartment complex in Southern Pines. A second gunshot victim was taken by private vehicle to Moore County Regional Hospital.

Investigators think Leverett and the other person, whose name has not been released, knew each other and may have been fighting. Two semi-automatic handguns were recovered, police said.

Leverett was not formally discharged from the hospital but left “against medical advice” around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Mahin said. She declined to say if the four gunshot slugs had been removed from Leverett’s torso and arm.

Mahin said Leverett’s departure from the hospital and confirmation about the warrants for his arrest “all sort of happened at the same time.”

Police said Leverett left the hospital in a red Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was found at 2 p.m. in Southern Pines. He turned himself in to a Moore County sheriff’s investigator in Carthage on Monday. On Tuesday, he was charged with eight additional crimes, including felony possession of a stolen firearm; felony trafficking of cocaine and felony discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling or vehicle.

His bail was set at $1.2 million.

Hardy declined comment about any procedural snafus that enabled a violent felon with outstanding warrants to walk out of the hospital Saturday without police notification.

“The bigger issue for us is we found him and he’s being held accountable,” Hardy said.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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