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A corrections officer was taken hostage during an escape by an inmate of the Polk Corrections Institution in Polk County, Florida. On October, 19, inmate David Ross escaped while on work detail, using “an improvised sharp object” to attack corrections officer Jeffery Rexrode and take him hostage.
Ross locked four other inmates in a room at a Mosaic Park building, tying the door with a rope before escaping with the corrections officer as his hostage. The officer was not armed at the time and had no backup with him. Joe Hall, chief of the Bartow Police department explained that officers do not carry weapons when supervising work details to ensure that inmates don’t have access to guns. Bartow Police provides transportation for the Polk Corrections Institution but isn’t involved with inmate supervision during work details.
Ross forced C.O. Rexrode into a stolen city vehicle and drove to neighboring Pinellas County. Law enforcement was unaware of the escape until the four inmates who were locked up by Ross broke out of the room and asked a young woman eating lunch at the park to call 911.
Rexrode’s cell phone was tracked down by investigators and found in St. Petersburg where officers were able to apprehend Ross. The CO was located at a grocery store in the area and was unharmed.
Chief Hall credits the inmates for their quick action. “Those four guys, and in fact, the police department would not even have known something was wrong until 5 p.m. this afternoon if those inmates had not taken the action they did,” Hall said.
Ross, who was serving time for multiple felony convictions, was set for a February 2019 release. He is now facing new charges in two counties including armed kidnapping of a correctional officer, armed burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault of a correctional officer and escape.