More than 30 teens escape Nashville youth detention center

Authorities early Tuesday were hunting for 17 escapees from a Nashville youth detention center after more than 30 teens fled from the facility hours earlier.

Officials said 32 teens, ranging in age 14 to 19, crawled under a fence surrounding the yard at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center at about 11 p.m. Monday, according to Tennessee Department of Children's Services spokesman Rob Johnson. 

"Apparently they were able to find a weak spot at the bottom of the fence and they were able to go underneath it," Johnson told The Times. 

Two juveniles were found right away and others were found throughout the night, Johnson said.

Local police, Children's Services Department officials and members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol were continuing the search for the teens still at large, he said.

"They're urging anyone who might see any of these kids to call law enforcement to apprehend them," Johnson said. 

Teens held at the detention center have committed at least three felonies, Johnson said. It's still unclear if the escape was planned or a spontaneous incident, he said.

The escape happened shortly after a staff shift change and as a large group of juveniles went to the yard at the same time, Johnson said. Seventy-eight teens were being held at the detention center at that time of the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @NicoleCharky