Braydon Smith had a $30 gift card to spend as he was walking down an aisle at Academy Sports + Outdoors and saw an ax and a machete.
The 11-year-old decided he could use them to help cut down trees and branches for campfires. His dad put up the extra $15 to make the purchase possible.
“Me and my Dad go camping a decent amount,” Braydon said.
Braydon used the tools in the backyard of his gray mobile home that sits amid winding rural roads, open pastures and plenty of woods to explore. The blade on the machete rusted a little and red tape held the handle on.
Braydon hadn’t taken the tools camping yet, but the 70-pound sixth-grader with freckles on his nose and cheeks used the machete last week when an intruder broke into his home and tried to steal his PlayStation.
The tools were propped against Braydon’s bedroom wall, near his bunk bed, baseball trophies and Pokémon cards. Braydon has been playing baseball since he was big enough to swing a bat. In a cabinet under his bed, he keeps a box with his 11 championship rings from area recreational and travel leagues.
He also likes playing video games and with his dogs, boxers named Dixon and Zena.
A knock on the door
Around 11 a.m. Friday, Braydon was playing Grand Theft Auto on his PlayStation when he heard someone outside his Mebane, North Carolina, home. He ran to his bedroom in the 900-square-foot home and looked out the window.
A woman was knocking on the door, and two men were standing near a champagne-colored car.
Braydon was on the phone with his mom. He asked her to call the police before he put the phone down in the living room and stepped behind the door in his bedroom.
Through his window, he saw one of the men walk toward the other side of the home and heard a window “get slammed in.”
“My heart was beating, but I knew that I had to do something, like hit him with something, so I just grabbed a weapon that was nearby,” he said.
A young man, whom police later identified as Jataveon Deshawn Hall, 19, slowly walked through the home. He grabbed a pellet rifle, which Braydon knew was not loaded.
When he came to Braydon’s room, the man peeked through door with the rifle.
“He grabbed my machete and told me to sit on the ground and get in the closet,” Braydon said.
Braydon obeyed, until the man turned his back as he walked into the living room and started to pocket Braydon’s cell phone.
Braydon picked up the machete the man had dropped on the floor and swung it at him, striking him in the back of the neck.
The man kicked Braydon a few times and pushed him down, he said.
Braydon swung the machete again but missed.
The man tried to grab the PlayStation and television.
“He noticed that he was bleeding in the back of the head really badly,” Braydon said. “So he just dropped everything and ran out of the door.”
‘There is blood on my floor’
Braydon’s mother, who lives out of state, called his aunt, who called 911.
“You hit them in the back of the head with a machete?” the 911 operator asked after Braydon told the story.
“Did you see if he was bleeding at all?” the operator said.
“Yes,” Braydon said. “There is blood on my floor.”
Hall showed up later at UNC Hospitals in Hillsborough but was transferred to the Chapel Hill hospital, which he left around 8 p.m. Friday against medical advice and without the Sheriff’s Office being alerted, The News & Observer reported.
Hall was arrested Sunday in Burlington on charges of breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping, interfering with emergency communications and assault on a child under 12. He is being held on $175,000 bail.
No other arrest have been made.
Braydon worried that Hall or the others might come back. His Dad slept on the couch for a few days with a pistol nearby.
Hall “should have got a job before he broke into people’s houses,” Braydon said.
Christopher Smith, 30, who works for a small electrical company, was minutes from his home when he learned about the break in.
It was rare for Braydon to be home alone, Smith said, but he thought his son’s camp started Thursday instead of the following Monday.
Braydon said he wanted to stay home and play video games.
“I trust him,” Smith said. “I felt like he could feed himself. And, of course, not burn the house down. And he could defend himself.”
Questions like what if the man had a gun “play in my mind over and over,” Smith said.
“It was all a higher power than us,” he said.
Smith told Braydon if someone breaks in with a gun, let them take everything.
“You do what they say,” Smith said. “He agreed.”
It was the second break in at the home where Smith has lived for about nine years. A few years ago, someone took some Christmas presents, a change jar and a BB gun.
When Smith arrived home after the break-in Friday, he had to park across the street because of all the deputy cars in the driveway.
Braydon ran up to his father and said he was fine but police wouldn’t let him in the house.
“My uniform is in there,” Braydon said. One of his last games as a Burlington Pirate was that night, and he really wanted to play.
“I said, ‘We’ll get it’” Smith said. “ ‘We are going. No doubt.’”
Staff writer Tammy Grubb contributed to this article.