Neighbors in Madison on edge after teens escape from juvenile detention center

One neighbor said it's time for the facility to move to a different location.

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 5:43 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2019 6:15 PM

A Madison community is on edge after three juveniles ran away from a detention center Thursday night.

They were caught after an hour and a half, but it's the same center where two teens escaped in 2017, and are now accused of killing a man behind a Publix in Limestone County.

WAAY 31 talked to neighbors on Friday who said they lived near the facility when the teens escaped in 2017, so when they got the alert about three more juveniles escaping, the memories came flooding back.

"It's been a threat, and as of last night, it's continuing to be a threat," Kirk Fuller, a neighbor, said.

Fuller has lived in Heritage Station for nearly 20 years. He said it took about 30 minutes for the community to be notified Thursday night about the runaway teens, which he says was too long.

"Earlier notification is essential, and we did not get the early notification that we needed," Fuller said.

In 2018, the City of Madison voted to renew the license for Sequel TSI, also known as Three springs. The city said it had been working with the facility to make safety improvements.

Fuller said the license should never have been renewed after the 2017 incident. He said it was given a second chance to show it wouldn't be a threat to the community, but after Thursday night, that chance has been blown.

"It's desperately needed. It's very important, but it needs to be in a location where you're not putting everyone else at risk," he said.

Fuller said he understands the facility is needed for troubled teens, but says it's come at too great a cost to his community's peace of mind.

"Everybody knows teenagers can get in trouble. They don't always make good decisions. We're supportive as a community of things like that, but at this time, we're worried about our teenagers and our kids when somebody like that escapes. That has a higher priority," he said.

We reached out to Sequel TSI, and the facility said it's aware of students leaving without permission.

"We remain fully focused on the safety and care of the students at Sequel TSI Madison and the local Madison community. Our local operations team has and continues to cooperate with local law enforcement," the facility said in a statement.

The City of Madison released this statement on Friday:

Following established procedures, Madison Police Department successfully and expeditiously responded to an emergency situation regarding three escapees from the Three Springs facility on the evening of July 25th. The City of Madison is incredibly proud of our Police Department and supportive neighboring agencies of Madison and Limestone County Sheriffs Offices who together quickly apprehended the escapees. Mayor and Council along with County and State Officials will support law enforcement with any necessary actions moving forward through their continued investigation.

The Madison City Council will meet for a Special Called Meeting at 5:30 pm on Monday, July 29 to set a public hearing to consider a resolution to set a public hearing regarding the business license of Sequel TSI Holdings, LLC (tentative date of public hearing meeting August 14, 2019).

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