BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – A state correctional officer who was kidnapped at knifepoint in Bartow and handcuffed by an inmate is safe after the inmate was captured in St. Petersburg.
Just after noon on Wednesday, Bartow police were notified about an escaped prisoner in the area of Mosaic Park, which is located at 2250 S Floral Avenue.
Investigators say five Department of Corrections prisoners were working in the area of Mosaic Park. At some point, prisoner David Ross, 42, pulled out a small utility knife and threatened correctional officer Jeffrey Rexrode. After locking the other prisoners in a nearby park facility, investigators say Ross took Officer Rexrode’s handcuffs and put them on him. Ross then forced Officer Rexrode into a city vehicle that was being used by the crew and drove away.
“The four inmates that were left behind were able to get out of the room they were locked in and flagged down a passing motorist,” said Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall.
Ameerah Ebrahim lives just across the street from the park and noticed something was very wrong. “Well, we saw the prisoners out here. Then we saw all of the cops starting coming,” said Ebrahim.
She couldn’t believe it when she heard the guard had been taken hostage. “That’s scary and you know they don’t have weapons,” said Ebrahim.
Detectives learned that Ross may have been headed to the Pinellas County area. Bartow detectives reached out to Pinellas-area police agencies to be on the lookout for the stolen truck.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted the stolen truck around 1:50 p.m. and after a short chase, captured Ross and took him into custody.
Deputies then found Officer Rexrode at a nearby store, where he went after escaping from Ross. Rexrode was not harmed during the incident.
Ross is being held at the Pinellas County Jail pending charges by the Bartow Police Department.
He was serving time for numerous convictions including Battery on a LEO and Fraud charges. Ross was set to be released from custody in February of 2019 and was in minimal level custody at the Polk Work Camp.
Ross is currently facing new charges of Armed Kidnapping of a Correctional Officer, Armed Robbery and Burglary of a Motor Vehicle, Aggravated Assault of a Correctional Officer and Escape.
Neighbor Marcia Fischer said she watched Ross’ arrest. “They caught the guy and he was down on the ground. And three cops had their guns on him, telling him not to move. And he would intentionally pick up his head and go like this and kick his feet. And they’re like, ‘Don’t move, don’t move,'” Fischer said.
“They were just standing with their guns on him, pointing their guns at him telling him, ‘Hold still, hold still,'” Fischer added.
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