LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) –Little Rock police arrested three suspects following a break-in just after midnight on Thursday at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in downtown Little Rock.
23-year-old Samuel Cooper, of Benton, 24-year-old Landon Williamson of Bryant and 24-year-old Kevin Patrick of Alexander all face charges of commercial burglary, theft of property and first-degree criminal mischief. Cooper faces an additional count of fleeing.
"They proceeded to come in the building and basically trash the place," said Facility Manager Neil Curry.
All of the contents of the turtle aquarium were running across the floor, including the turtles themselves.
In addition to thousands of dollars in damage to educational exhibits and fixtures, one of the center’s display animals, a live 3-foot alligator, was stolen. The alligator was later recovered from a vehicle.
"There was a blood trail in certain areas in the center where I think not only the broken glass got some individuals, but the alligator might have gotten a little payback too," said Curry.
He said the alligator may now be nicknamed 'Survivor'.
“We also are missing a very realistic replica of a western diamondback rattlesnake,” said Neil Curry. “We are asking anyone who sees the snake replica to please report it to us immediately so we can return it to the center as swiftly as possible.”
For anyone that finds the replica, please call the nature center at 501-907-0636.
Police say this is the first break-in at the center since its establishment in the River Market.
The center’s exhibit hall will be closed for repairs until further notice, but administrative offices will be open.