Greene Co. Sheriff: Man previously arrested for shooting at police uses disguise to escape jail

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GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Authorities say a man who shot at police officers during a chase in July is back in police custody Thursday after a brief manhunt.

Sheriff Wesley Holt stated that Joseph Hale has been caught and is in custody.

According to a release from the Greene County Sheriff’s Dept., Hale left the detention center around 2:12 p.m. by disguising himself as a worker and walking out the front door. Sheriff Holt says Hale stole a worker’s uniform and grabbed a milk crate to make it look like he was working.

“He disguised himself as a trustee and it through a door. He was let out. Apparently they thought he was a trustee,” Holt said. “He picked up a milk crate that had some commissary items in it and went out the door.”

Hale had been scheduled to take a shower when he made his escape. Holt said Hale had a 15-20 minute head-start on the Sheriff’s Department before jail workers noticed he was gone.

The resulting manhunt involved more than 15 police cars. The Greene County Sheriff’s Department also had assistance from the Greeneville Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Just a short time later Greeneville City Police received a call that a person matching Hale’s description stole a car. Around 2:50 p.m. a caller reported to 911 that the car had crashed on Mary Lamons Road off of the Kingsport Highway.

The release states after crashing the car Hale took off running into the woods where he was tracked by K9 units. Deputies located Hale in a nearby barn where he was taken into custody without further incident.

No injuries were reported, but Hale’s crash took out a large portion of fencing surrounding Charles Miller’s cattle ranch.

Miller said he was interviewed by responding officers, but did not see the crash. He was out riding his tractor when neighbors told him about the crash.

“I took off and really didn’t know what was going on. They definitely tore off a bunch of fence,” Miller said. “When you get my age, you ain’t able to go down there and build fence like you used to. I’m going to have to it looks like.”

Holt said the escape is under investigation to prevent a similar escape in the future.

Hale is now facing additional charges on top of the charges he was already being held on.

In July, authorities said Hale was involved in a vehicle pursuit in which he stopped, got out of his car, and fired three shots at a police officer from a handgun. After leading officers on a manhunt, Hale was found and taken into custody.

Hale was then transported to the Greene County Jail where he was held without bond.

This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.

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