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Search continues for 17 of 32 teens who escaped from youth correctional facility

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Nashville, TN (WSMV) — Authorities say 15 of the 32 teenagers who escaped from Nashville’s Woodland Hills Youth Development Center late Monday night have been taken into custody.

The search for the remaining 17 escapees is ongoing.

According to Rob Johnson, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, the teens escaped shortly after an employee shift change.

“At about 11 o’clock last night, about 32 youth – we believe – got out of their dorms and managed to slip underneath the perimeter fence,” he said.

Two of the teens were captured quickly, and several more were back in custody by 4 a.m.

Officers were seen combing through the area on foot with K-9s and from a helicopter.

Johnson says the escape happened after a disturbance. It was not immediately clear if any workers were injured.

“Staffing is lighter during the overnight hours, and so, presumably, they planned for that, but we don’t know quite yet,” Johnson said. “The facility, as I understand, is under control. They’ve brought in extra staff.”

This is the second major security breach at Woodland Hills in recent months. About half a dozen teens managed to escape from their dorm rooms in May. The group was captured before they were able to leave the property.

Several security changes were made after the incident.

“I do know after the last one they split some of the kids up, they sent some of them to different (Youth Development Centers), and they looked at different staffing patterns,” Johnson said.

Many of the teenagers involved in the latest escape are not from the Nashville area, according to Johnson.

Johnson told Channel 4 News that most of the teens have at least three felonies on their criminal records.

“Right now, we’re focused on finding out what happened. Finding out who knows anything, and whether that can help with the search,” Johnson said.

The escapees were last seen in gray or white T-shirts, dark blue pants and white or black sneakers.

By Maurice Miller

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