8 teens still missing after 32 escape Nashville youth detention center

8 teens still missing after 32 escape Nashville youth detention center
A crew checks for weak spots in the fence surrounding the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville Sept. 2. (Mark Humphrey / AP)

Authorities are still sweeping the Nashville area in search of eight teens who remain at large after they escaped a youth detention center late Monday.

Officials said 32 teen boys, ranging in age from 14 to 18, crawled under a fence at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in North Nashville about 11 p.m. Monday shortly after a staff shift change.


By noon local time Tuesday, all but eight had been located, some turned in by parents and other family members, said Rob Johnson, a spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

The incident began when dozens of detainees left their dorm rooms, which are not locked according to policy, Johnson said.

"They all came out, and then somehow they were able to get outside the building," which is normally secured, Johnson told The Times.

After running around the outdoor yard for a few minutes, the boys found a weak spot in the fence and crawled out.

Authorities with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Nashville police helped with a massive search, sending helicopters and teams of officers after the students.

Several were found on a major street behind the facility, and others were picked up at "various locations" around Nashville, said Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron.

As of Tuesday morning, 24 had been found and are being held at a Nashville juvenile court, where they could face escape charges, according to the state Department of Children's Services.

Teens who are housed at the facility have typically committed at least three felonies, Johnson said, and some of the boys have "dangerous histories."

Residents who spot any of the remaining boys, who were wearing navy blue pants, white or gray T-shirts and white or black sneakers, should call 911, Johnson said.

No employees suffered serious injuries during the incident, according to a statement and the fence where the teens escaped has been fixed.

This is not the first time detainees have broken out of the facility. In May, several boys left their rooms and broke out of the building and into the courtyard, but did not make it outside the fence.

The department's internal affairs division is investigating the breach.

"We'll take a really hard look at this like we did in the incident in May," Johnson said.

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