On Saturday afternoon, the Macon County Sheriff's Office began what would result in an 18-hour standoff following a hostage situation in the Oak Grove community.
Sheriff Robbie Holland informed media outlets of the situation on Saturday to let the community know that law enforcement officers were on the scene and the community was not at risk.
Shortly after daylight on Sunday morning, law enforcement took Robert Childs, 51, into custody and charged him with felonious breaking and entering, 2nd degree kidnapping, and domestic criminal trespassing. According to reports, the home Childs broke into was the residence of his estranged wife and son. Childs reportedly lives on the same property but in a different residence. To gain access into the home, Childs broke down the front door using an axe.
“What began as a hostage situation ended with an armed barricaded suspect who refused to communicate with law enforcement with the exception of one statement he made to the first deputy on scene, ‘I'm not afraid to die’ as he walked back into the residence and disappeared,” according to a statement from the Macon County Sheriff's Office. “During Childs' initial contact with the deputy, the two victims were able to escape out a back door of the residence.”
After the hostages were able to escape, officers on scene were then able to secure a perimeter around the residence and call for additional assistance. Holland explained that law enforcement officers were able to confirm he was alone in the residence and were able to track Childs as he went through the home turning lights on and off. "There was no possibility for him to breach our perimeter without being confronted by heavily armed SWAT members from the MCSO, Jackson County Sheriff's Office and State Bureau Investigation (SBI)" Law enforcement officers were also equipped with an armored vehicle called a ‘BearCat’ from Buncombe County Sheriffs Office SWAT and two robots with cameras from the SBI.
Officers spent several hours attempting to communicate with the suspect. Communication techniques and attempts were made through the utilization of State Bureau of Investigation Robotics and SWAT members from Macon, Jackson, and Buncombe counties. CS gas and pepper spray was fired into the top and bottom areas of the residence in attempt to subdue the suspect.
After several hours had passed and still no contact with suspect, the decision was made to send officers into the residence. Childs was located by SWAT members in a hidden bunker in the basement wearing a bulletproof shield and gas mask. Once officers made contact with the suspect, he continued to refused to cooperate with law enforcement. After a brief confrontation with deputies, Childs was taken into custody. Agencies that assisted other than those previously named, include Cowee Fire Department, Macon EMS, Macon County Emergency Management, NC Highway Patrol and Macon County 911. The MCSO advises that additional information will be released at the appropriate time.