Escaped Polk inmate captured in St Pete; Hostage safe

A recap of the wild incident which began in Bartow.

A state correctional officer is safe but shaken up after a terrifying ordeal Wednesday.

An inmate on a work detail suddenly overpowered and kidnapped the officer in Bartow Wednesday morning.

It happened at Mosaic Park, where the suspect and five other inmates were being supervised.

And it ended two full counties away - in St. Petersburg, near the intersection of 49th Street and 54th Avenue North.

Pinellas County deputies, knew the inmate, David Ross, 42, had friends and family in the St. Petersburg area, so they were on the lookout for a white work truck, 

The corrections officer, identified as JW Rexrode, was overseeing the five inmates - considered to be low risk - on a work detail.

It's still not clear how or why Ross overpowered Rexrode using an improvised sharp object, locked the other inmates in a small nearby building, then forced Rexrode into a city work truck and took off.

Officials also weren't sure where Ross had gone, so as a precaution five schools in the Bartow area were placed on heightened alert.

A Pinellas deputy spotted them just before 2:00 pm. Rexrode was somehow able to get away at a nearby convenience store, and then the chase began. 

 

Ross, officials say, ditched the pickup truck in the front yard of a home not far from the convenience store and started running.

He didn't get far.

Deputies took him down just a couple blocks away in a residential area as neighbors like Marcia Fischer watched.

"It took them awhile and there were about five of them," Fischer said.. "And finally he held still, they cuffed him and away they went. And then there were just cops all over."

Deputies checked Rexrode for injuries at the scene, but he appeared to be okay.

Ross was still being questioned Wednesday.

His criminal record, according to officials, includes a previous charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.

Until Wednesday he was scheduled for release in February 2019.

(© 2017 WTSP)


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