While most of our community was taking time to enjoy the snow from Winter Storm Grayson late last week, Chatham County authorities were working to free a grandmother and two small children who were being held at knifepoint.

Authorities said the situation started when a vehicle crashed in front of a residence off of Charlie Cooper Road in northwest Chatham County around 4 p.m. Friday, January 5.

The suspect then attempted to break into a home where a 68-year-old grandmother was keeping two grandchildren, who were seven and nine years old, according to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

The grandmother called 911 and deputies were dispatched to the scene. But by the time they were able to navigate the hazardous roads, they found the situation had escalated as the suspect had made his way into the home and allegedly “armed himself with kitchen knives and began making threats.”

“It was a life or death situation for the family inside that residence,” Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said. “Our priority was ensuring the wellbeing of everyone on scene and getting the victims out of the home to safety.”

Roberson also reported to the scene to assist the deputies.

The grandmother was forced to hang up the phone while she was talking to emergency personnel and the victims were not allowed to leave the home.

Deputies made contact with the suspect once on scene and engaged him in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, officials said. After some discussion, the suspect made his way out of the residence and the deputies took control of the weapons.

The suspect – 40-year-old James Harry Hayes II, of Bear Creek – was then taken into custody without injury to himself or others. Hayes was treated for a wound that authorities say was sustained in the vehicle crash.

“The fact that the hostages were unharmed and no lives were lost during this confrontation speaks to the training, skill, and courageous calm of our deputies,” Roberson said. “This story could have ended in tragedy, but we are relieved everyone was able to walk away from the situation unharmed. Our Victim Services Unit has been in contact with the family to provide emotional support and assistance in the aftermath.”

Hayes is being held under a $100,000 secured bond while he is facing charges of second-degree kidnapping, breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods/property, interfering with emergency communication and injury to real property.

He is scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Pittsboro on January 29.

Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office