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Family of Ozark man accused of assault & attempting to drown boy speaks out

The family of the man accused of assaulting and attempting to drown a 9-year-old boy has spoken out against the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

JOHNSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — The family of an Ozark man accused of assaulting and attempting to drown a 9-year-old boy is speaking out against the Franklin County Sherriff's Office wondering why the man was released from jail earlier in the day before the alleged incident happened 

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office announced on its Facebook page that deputies made a felony arrest on Thursday evening, August 19. The sheriff's office said patrol units and EMS were dispatched around 6:15 p.m. to Hunt on Thursday regarding a male subject who was suffering from a mental crisis. 

Deputies say the boy had suffered serious injuries and reported that he had been attacked by a man who had attempted to drown him in a nearby creek. The boy told deputies the man had knocked him unconscious and was only able to get away by playing dead until the suspect left. 

Deputies were able to match the boy's description of the man to 27-year-old Mitchell Salito of Ozark. Salito was arrested for 1st Degree Battery, Kidnapping, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the 1st Degree and a misdemeanor FTA warrant. The additional charges of 2nd Degree Assault and Disorderly Conduct were added after deputies were aware of another incident Salito was involved in on the same day in an unrelated encounter.

Credit: KSFM

Salito's family says this incident could have been avoided and the Salito suffers from mental health issues. The family also says was released from custody from Franklin County Jail after the family begged the jail to not release him on the same day the incident with the boy occurred.  

Salito's sister Heather says she asked the jail to order a mental health evaluation and to send him to the hospital before his release, but she says that never happened and he was released in Johnson County, where police say he later attacked the 9-year-old boy before being arrested. 

Salito's sister says she recalls her bother having a mental health episode before being released from jail and now wants answers from the Franklin County Jail. 

“I begged them. I said “please do not release him on the streets. He’s not safe, he needs to go to a hospital, immediately," said Heather, Salito's sister. “A little boy was injured. This is in fair to my brother, this isn’t fair to that family, This isn’t fair to the little boy this isn’t fair to the public, it’s not fear for me, It isn’t fair for my mother. And it all falls in the hands of the Franklin County Jail system’.”

5News reached out to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and they declined to comment on the issue. The Franklin County Prosecutor says he is still waiting on the case and declined to comment further. 

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