Monkey escapes, attacks policeman and woman, then gets shot - WSMV Channel 4

Monkey escapes, attacks policeman and woman, then gets shot

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SHELBYVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It's a story of meth, mud and monkeys. It may be hard to imagine, but a monkey got loose Thursday morning and bit a woman and a police officer. It didn't end well for the monkey.  Another officer shot and killed it. But there's more to this, and it, too, is stranger than fiction.

The owner of Yoshi the monkey is already behind bars for making meth. Meanwhile, her husband has been in charge of caring for Yoshi and four other monkeys. 

Ricky Smith has cared for five monkeys for 12 years now. He says he spends $100 a week on their food and tends to them three times a day.

"I was trying to get them a home, the boys, and keep her cause she wants to be groomed now," said Smith.

Smith is in the process of moving, so he said he had to move the monkeys to temporary cages last week.  That's when a Japanese Snow Macaque, Yoshi got out of his cage.

"Somebody took the lock off, the long rock that was in there," said Smith.

"I looked at that this morning, and that's absolutely false. Nobody in their right mind is going to mess with this animal to start with, and I looked at the gate he had on him.  It had no lock whatsoever," said Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce.

Boyce said the monkey ran next door and bit the leg of a 42-year-old woman. She then called law enforcement. 

That's when Corporal Ronnie Gauht tried to shoot the monkey, which was camped out on a roof.  But he missed and the monkey bit his arm.  Boyce said another officer shot the monkey to stop the attack.

"He's not quite as big as a chimp, but he is close, and he is solid muscle, and he has extremely long canines. I mean this is an animal that could very easily kill a person," said Boyce.

Smith says he is aggressive to strangers but not to him.

"That's what happens when I come around and strangers come around, then he wants to try to protect you," said Smith.

But Bedford County animal control workers say the monkeys are mean, dangerous and in unacceptable conditions.

Bedford County animal control was called about the conditions last Friday.

"You try to move as quick as you can, but if you don't follow the legal steps of the law, you want to do it right," said Bedford County animal control director Brenda Goodrich.

And the sheriff's department has been called to control the monkeys at least half a dozen times before.

Corporal Gauht was actually bit by Yoshi about a year and a half ago, so this is his second bite.

But both agencies say the state laws for exotic animals do not allow them to do much. So police and sheriff deputies are left to fend for themselves.

"It's a jungle out here and we can prove it today, ha ha, we got the monkeys to prove it," said Boyce.

Corporal Gauht has been released from the hospital and actually went back to the monkey's home. Boyce said Gauht is "old school" and wanted to see the situation through to the end. 

On Thursday night, animal rescuers took the four remaining monkey to the state fairgrounds in Nashville.  Scotlund Haisley, the president of Animal Rescue Core, said his group is looking at taking the monkeys to a sanctuary in Texas or Oklahoma.

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