PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When James Robert Hill fled from police in the early hours of Thursday, he was wanted for escaping last year from a work-release center in Braddock run by the Gateway Rehabilitation Institute.
Hill was there at the tail end of a three-year sentence for simple and aggravated assault, resisting arrest, terroristic threats and illegal gun charges, even though the facility is designed primarily for non-violent offenders with drug and alcohol problems.
Neighbors don’t think that’s right.
“No, it’s not right he was in there, not that place,” said Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire, of Braddock. “This is residential neighborhood, you got people with kids.”
Like other work-release facilities, Gateway Braddock has limited security and no capability of detaining a person who wants to walk away.
Mayor John Fetterman says it was no place for Hill.
“You can’t have felons walking past our playgrounds and our community center,” he said. “It’s a high traffic area where our residents go to catch the bus and what have you.”
A spokesperson for Gateway says the program is designed to help inmates with drug and alcohol problems. Also, before admitting anyone to the program, they are evaluated on their potential for recovery and their risk to the community.
While to spokesperson told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan the institute is conducting an internal investigation on whether Hill was properly placed, Mayor Fetterman says he can’t understand how.
“It’s just completely unacceptable that you would have someone with that kind of rap sheet here among us,” Mayor Fetterman added.
The borough is requesting a meeting with Gateway to determine exactly what type of inmate can be placed in the program to make sure that offenders like Hill aren’t free to come and go.”
Hill, 24, has been found guilty of several crimes.
In 2010, he was found guilty of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.
In 2009, he was found guilty of resisting arrest and firearms violations.
In 2007, he faced more charges of firearm violations and was found guilty of those charges as well.
Hill remains hospitalized at UPMC Presbyterian after being shot multiple times in Thursday’s incident.