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Blessing Hospital, residents speak out about dangerous man escaping facility

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QUINCY (WGEM) — There's new information out about how a man police called dangerous, escaped from Blessing Hospital's psychiatric unit Sunday afternoon.

The suspect, Zachary Nokes is back in jail Monday night, where neighbors said he should have been all along.

Nokes pulled a gun on someone last Friday near 20th and Maple streets. It ended in a nearly hour-long stand-off with police.
Neighbors said they couldn't believe it when they heard he escaped from the psych ward.

People in one Quincy neighborhood have questions.

Why wasn't a man who pulled a gun on someone in jail, instead of a hospital?

"I was kind of shocked," resident Anita Mulch. "I couldn't believe that he got out of there. Then where was he going to go after he got out?"

Mulch lives on Maple St. and said it's especially scary, knowing Nokes was involved in an armed standoff with police right next to her home on Friday.

"We just stayed in the house, kept the doors locked and hoped everything would go along all right because oh my, you never know," Mulch said.

Nokes' escape from Blessing has residents wondering how this even happened in the first place.

"One of our patients on our behavioral health unit managed to get through our secure doors," Blessing Hospital Director of Psychiatric Services said. "Upon further investigation, it appears that the doors malfunctioned and did not keep the doors secure as they're expected to."

Blessing would not discuss whether staff members should have been watching Nokes.

Deputy Chief Adam Yates with the Quincy Police Department said they do have a protocol when dropping off a patient with pending criminal charges.

"The officer goes and drops the subject off, briefs the staff as to what's going on and because it's a locked facility, obviously Blessing has their own security, then the individual is secured in that area, the officer is able to leave," Yates said.

Yates said the police department will talk with Blessing about what they can do to make sure this doesn't happen.

It's something neighbors said is needed.

"That's right," Mulch said. "I do not want that to happen again. They need it more secure."

Blessing officials said they are working with the vendor company to fix the door malfunction.

Quincy Police said they used to keep officers at suspects' hospital rooms, but they no longer have the staffing to do that.

Nokes escaped at about 2:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Hannibal police picked him up just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday night at Hannibal Regional Hospital. He was taken into custody on an Adams County warrant for Intimidation and Aggravated Assault.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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