Update: On June 6, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced no charges will be filed. Read the original story below. You can read more about his decision here.
The Cincinnati Police will be investigating after a 3-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, leading to the fatal shooting of Harambe the gorilla.
The Hamilton County Prosecuting Office told WCPO-TV’s Ally Kraemer that police will be looking into the incident, but did not specify if the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, could face criminal charges.
Cincinnati Police issued a statement later Tuesday, saying its Personal Crimes Unit is “closely reviewing the facts and circumstances that led to a four-year-old boy falling into the Gorilla World enclosure.”
The police statement said “this review is only regarding the actions of the parents/family that led up to the incident and not related to the operation and safety of the Cincinnati Zoo.”
Police said anyone who witnessed the incident, has video recordings, or has any additional information should call the Criminal Investigations Section at 513-352-3542.
“The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo involving the young child who fell into the gorilla enclosure is under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in a statement. “Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges. When the investigation and review are complete, we will update the media.”
The boy’s age was originally reported to be 4, but police said Tuesday he is actually 3. He turns 4 in December.
The boy, Isaiah, wandered away from his mother, climbed over a barricade and then fell about 15-feet down into a moat area of the enclosure at Gorilla World, witnesses said. Videos then show Harambe standing over the boy and dragging him through the water.
Gregg is currently not facing any charges. Her family released a statement Monday about the incident.
“We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff,” the statement from Gail Myers Public Relations said. “We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.”
Rumors that she is planning to sue the zoo have not been verified.
Meanwhile, thousands have signed petitions calling for Gregg to be held accountable and for child welfare officials to investigate and possibly take away her children.
A Facebook group, “Justice for Harambe” was created on Sunday. A Change.org petition also calling for justice for the gorilla has garnered more than 168,000 signatures from people calling for the boy’s parents to be held responsible:
We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life. We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation. We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence that may result in serious bodily harm or even death.
Another petition calling for Child Protective Services to investigate the mother has received more than 50,000 signatures.
The zoo has said it will study the incident and make any necessary changes.
In a statement, the Cincinnati Zoo said, “Gorilla World opened in 1978, and this is the first time there has been a breach. The exhibit is inspected regularly by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the United States Department of Agriculture and adheres to safety guidelines.”
The zoo’s director said he doesn’t like to point fingers during a press conference Monday, and also appeared to defend the mother.
“Do you know any four-year-olds? They can climb over anything,” director Thane Maynard told reporters.
Read more about Michelle Gregg at the link below:
You can see more photos of her and her family here:
Read more about Michelle Gregg in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: