In a brazen and daring mass escape, 32 teenage convicts ranging in age from 14 – 19 busted out of the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in northwest Nashville, Tennessee, late in the evening of Sept. 1 “by crawling under a weak spot in a fence,” according to ABC News. As of this writing, many of the youngsters have been taken back into custody; but at least 10 are still on the run.
Rob Johnson, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, shared that the teens all left their rooms last night around 11 p.m. “and went into a common area, where they overwhelmed 16 to 18 staff members.” The teens managed to get out of the building by kicking out a metal panel underneath one of the detention center’s windows and made their way out into the yard where they eventually escaped by crawling out underneath a section of chain link fence.
Johnson added that for the most part, the bottom of that chain link fence extends down into the ground at least eight inches. But the convicted and committed escapees managed to lift up a section of that fence and crawl out under it. Alarms sounded and police were called when a staff member witnessed the teens making a break for it.
Two teens were captured immediately and others were found overnight, Johnson said. Some were found by authorities, others turned themselves in, and others were turned in by their parents, he said.
MSN reported that as of this morning, the Tennessee Highway Patrol in conjunction with local police were still looking for 10 of the escaped teens. The youth detention center is owned and operated by the state of Tennessee. At the time of the escape, the center was housing a total of 78 teen offenders.
The center is comprised of a school that provides vocational training, career counseling and “works to move teens to less restrictive settings.” Teens can be assigned to the center until they turn 19. All residents of the center have been charged as juvenile offenders. None have been charged as adults for their crimes, although most have been convicted of at least three felonies, according to Johnson.
Six teens escaped from the same center in May, but didn’t get too far, according to NPR. Officials from the center aren’t sure whether the mass exodus was spontaneous or a pre-planned escape. As of Tuesday morning, officials reported that the center was "calm and back under control.”