SYRACUSE — A man with autism who entered a neighbor's home and was detained in a headlock by the owner has died.
Police announced Friday that the 24-year-old man, who police and family members declined to identify, has died. The man had been in a medically induced coma following the Feb. 7 encounter.
"We appreciate the love and support that we have received from friends and family during this very difficult time," family members said in a statement Friday. "Brandon was a wonderful, loving young man. Autism is a difficult challenge, and he lived through many difficulties in his life. It is hard to have lost him under these circumstances. We have faith that he is no longer impaired, and that he now has his voice. We have hope that we will see him again after this life. In the meantime, we thank those who have opened their hearts, and we encourage others to love each other."
The man lived for about a year in a private group home nearby and had apparently sneaked out of the home through a basement window. Friends and family believe he entered the neighbor's home, 1323 S. Banbury Drive, believing it was his own.
"I think it's just a tragedy," family friend Jared Gull said earlier this week. "The family is suffering. They've struggled for years with certain challenges that most of us don't have to deal with."
Though an adult, the man was more like a child, carrying favorite VHS tapes with him that he likes to watch over and over, Gull said. He needs constant supervision.
The homeowner, John Hislop, confronted the man about 11 p.m. as he tried to enter the home. The man persisted, pushing his way into the house, and Hislop tackled him and put him in a headlock, he said.
"I threw him down, put him in an arm hold and was asking him why he was in my house. Who was he? I've never see the guy before," Hislop said.
The man eventually passed out and Hislop's wife, a nurse, called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
The man could not speak, functioned at the level of a 2-year-old and had a severe seizure disorder, according to family friends. He had a history of escaping the group home, Gull said.
Syracuse police are investigating the case.
Following the incident, officials from the group home where the the man lived said an internal investigation is underway. They offered support to the man's family, who staff had grown to care deeply for in the many years they had known him.
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