Escaped inmate recaptured after kidnapping officer

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A multi-county search for an inmate who allegedly escaped from custody and kidnapped a corrections officer in Polk County ended with the inmate in custody and no serious injuries Wednesday.

The scene began in Bartow, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.  A Department of Corrections inmate was supervising five inmates at a work camp when one of them brandished a small utility knife and overpowered the officer and locked the other four inmates in a building. He then stole a truck and kidnapped the officer.

Bartow Elementary and Middle schools were on lockdown as precautions, but they were later cleared to resume normal operations.

Meanwhile, deputies continued searching for the suspect. Just before 2 p.m., he was arrested near the intersection of Tropical Terrace and Coral Way in the Lealman area after a short chase.

The officer, identified as Officer Jeffrey Rexrodek, was unharmed and able to escape the prisoner, deputies said. He was located at a local store nearby.

The suspect was identified as David Ross, 42, who was serving time on charges including battery on a law enforcement officer and fraud. He was set to be released in February 2019 and was in minimal level custody at the Polk Work Camp.

He now faces additional charges of armed kidnapping of a correctional officer and armed robbery among other charges.

The Florida Department of Corrections issued a statement on what happened Wednesday evening. It reads, in part:

"Today, an inmate escaped Department custody while assigned to a work squad supporting Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) operations...

"Due largely to the timely response and consummate professionalism of Department staff and our partners in law enforcement, this incident was resolved in under two hours with no use of force, no loss of life and no serious injuries...

"Department staff will review this incident to determine the cause and evaluate the response. As this case is subject to an open and active criminal investigation, this is all of the information available at this time."