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Inmate takes corrections officer hostage in Bartow, captured in St. Pete

BARTOW — An escaped inmate held a state corrections department officer hostage in Bartow on Wednesday and made it to St. Petersburg in a stolen city of Bartow utility truck before he was captured without incident.

Around noon, the Bartow Police Department learned that David L. Ross, 42, a prisoner from the Polk Correctional Institute, escaped from a work crew of five prisoners in Mosaic Park, 2250 S Floral Ave. in Bartow, taking unarmed Florida Department of Corrections officer Jeffrey Rexrode with him. Ross threatened Rexrode with a small utility knife, according to Bartow police.

Ross secured the other prisoners in a nearby park building before handcuffing Rexrode with the officer's own handcuffs and forcing him into the city truck being used by the crew.

Around 1:50 p.m., deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office located the stolen van and, after a short pursuit, took the prisoner into custody near the intersection of Tropical Terrace and Coral Way.

Officers found Rexrode at a nearby store, where he had escaped the inmate. He suffered no injuries.

Ross is being held in the Pinellas County Jail. He is facing charges of armed kidnapping of a correctional officer, armed robbery and burglary of a motor vehicle, aggravated assault of a correctional officer and escape.

Ross was serving time on convictions of fraud and battery on a law enforcement officer. He was set to be released in February 2018 and was in minimal security custody at the Polk Work Camp.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office assisted the search with air patrols and deputies.