MEMPHIS, Tenn. — North Parkway was blocked for hours early Thursday morning as police searched for a teen who tried to inside the Memphis Zoo after allegedly robbing at least five people and leading police on a chase in a stolen car.
The chaos began around 9 p.m. Wednesday when police said the 16-year-old suspect carjacked a man on Water Tree Drive in Parkway Village.
About four hours later, police said the suspect drove the stolen car 20 minutes away to Northeast Memphis, where he robbed two people at gunpoint on Bayliss Avenue, then drove around around the corner to Wells Station Road and robbed two more people at gunpoint.
The victims in that case told police they were walking to their car when the suspect pointed a gun at one of their heads and threatened them both, asking, "Why don't you have any more money?" and telling them, "I'll kill you."
Police said the teen then stole the man's wallet with $300 inside and the woman's purse.
“It makes me sad, but I also think like that’s just part of living in Memphis ‘cause crime travels," said Genevieve Spears.
When police were responding to those reports, they said they saw a car matching the description of the stolen car driving down Wells Station Road without any headlights, so officers began a chase.
The pursuit continued to North Parkway, where investigators said the suspect crashed the car and it caught on fire. The teen abandoned the car, climbed a fence to the zoo and ran inside, according to police.
MPD helicopters and K9 units were deployed to search the property.
People living nearby heard the commotion, but say they had no idea what was going on.
“We were up so late because we could not figure it out," said one neighbor, who didn't want to be identified. “Saw the black car and ran back in and helicopters were just circling everywhere. I was like, ‘What in the world?’"
Eventually, around 2:30 a.m., officers in the helicopter spotted the suspect lying on the ground somewhere in the zoo and sent K-9s in to track him down and capture him.
The teen was then taken to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to be treated for minor injuries from jumping over the fence and being bitten by one of the search dogs.
Police later announced he was charged with aggravated robbery, evading arrest, and theft of property.
The Memphis Zoo released a statement saying, "Our security team was present and cooperate with the MPD. The suspect did not come into contact with any team members at the zoo. No animal exhibits were breached."