Escaped Rock Hill inmate suspected of shooting dogs at pet hospital, breaking into restaurant

The inmate who escaped from a Rock Hill correctional facility in January is now suspected in an Atlanta-area crime spree that includes several burglaries and the shootings of two dogs at an animal hospital, according to police.

Zachery Lee Reaves, 26, escaped from the Catawba Pre-release Center on Milling Road in Rock Hill on Jan. 25. He was arrested early Thursday in East Point, Ga., after an officer saw Reaves outside a business around 1 a.m., according to Maj. Russell Popham, a spokesman for the East Point Police Department.

When the officer asked Reaves for ID, Reaves took off running and the officer tackled him, Popham said. Reaves had a gun in a holster on his hip, and police believe it was the gun he allegedly stole from the Academy Christian School in Rock Hill after breaking into the school.

East Point is a town of 33,000 about five miles south of downtown Atlanta. Popham said investigators haven’t determined why Reaves was in the area.

Reaves is in the Fulton County jail on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, obstructing law enforcement officers and loitering, according to jail records. Popham said Reaves is also accused in a string of four burglaries around East Point in the days leading up to his arrest. Those charges are pending.

The burglaries were all carried out in similar fashion at night, Popham said. In one incident, the suspect broke into a Mexican restaurant and cooked himself breakfast. Police found cracked egg shells in the kitchen.

Investigators used surveillance footage to determine Reaves was the suspect in the restaurant burglary, Popham said. Reaves is suspected in three other burglaries, including one at Tri-City Animal Hospital that was reported Thursday morning. Police determined the burglary happened late the night before or early that morning.

Popham said a guard dog at that hospital was shot and killed, and a second dog inside the hospital was shot but survived. Investigators are still waiting on ballistic testing in that case, Popham said.

“We are looking at charging him with one of the burglaries,” Popham said. “We anticipate additional charges.”

It’s not clear whether Reaves will waive extradition.

Before his escape from Rock Hill pre-release center, Reaves was serving time for a burglary conviction in Horry County. A spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Corrections said he is facing an escape charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala