MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A teen wanted by police hopped the fence to the Memphis Zoo in an effort to escape arrest.
Overnight Thursday, Memphis police officers spotted the vehicle of the 16-year-old wanted for robbing several people in the Nutbush neighborhood at gunpoint, driving down Wells Station with no headlights.
Police said the teen committed at least five robberies.
The suspect started his robbery spree on Water Tree Drive hours earlier, around 9 p.m. Wednesday night. The victim told police an armed robber took his keys among other things, then left in his 2004 Nissan Murano.
The next occurred on Bayliss Avenue, where two people said they were robbed at gunpoint just after 12:30 a.m.
"He asked us for money and told us not to move or he would shoot us,” one of the Spanish-speaking victims told WMC Action News 5.
The 27-year-old man was outside his house with a friend when the suspect approached them. He says he tried running.
"With his gun he said, ‘Why did you run?’ and hit me in the face,” he said.
Police said the teen then robbed two people of their money in a driveway on Wells Station when he pointed a gun and threatened to kill them. He got away with a wallet, purse and $300.
Police attempted to stop the car, but the suspect refused. At some point the vehicle, which police said was reported stolen, caught fire, and the suspect bailed and went into the zoo trying to escape.
With the help of a police helicopter flying above, a K9 officer was able to track him down inside the zoo and he was taken into custody.
The suspect was taken to the hospital for injuries from climbing the fence and a dog bite. He’s since been released.
"They did a phenomenal job last night on this between our security team and the Memphis Police Department,” said Nick Harmeier with the Memphis Zoo.
Harmeier also said the suspect was not near any animals and did not go into any of the enclosures. Security was on the scene and assisted police.
The suspect is charged with aggravated assault, evading arrest and theft of property.