Seven Inmates Escape Tennessee Jail; Four Still On the Loose

Seven inmates escaped from a county jail by telling a guard they needed ice and then attacking him when he brought it, authorities said.

Sheriff's officials say the inmates confined the guard and escaped late Tuesday night by pushing a button in the jail control room that opened an outside door.

Two of the inmates, Paul Edward Long, 23, and Joshua Lee Adkins, 26, were arrested separately Wednesday without incident, authorities said.

A third, 22-year-old Michael Curtis Long, was arrested late Wednesday at a Morristown residence without incident. Officials believe Long, a federal prisoner serving a nearly 12-year sentence on a firearms charge from an armed robbery, may have spearheaded the escape.

The other inmates who escaped from the Hamblen County Jail, about 40 miles northeast of Knoxville, were identified as Michael J. Banner, Nathan W. Carroll, Brandon S. Collins and Nicholas Kyle Short. They remained at large Wednesday night.

It was not immediately known if the Longs were related.

Authorities say all of the men are repeat offenders, but the rest were in jail on misdemeanors and none were considered dangerous.

There were 69 inmates in the 32-bed dormitory-style annex where the inmates overpowered the guard. But 62 inmates decided not to take flight, Chief Deputy Wayne Mize said.

"They're smart enough to put their time in and put it behind them rather than add an escape charge," Mize said.

Mize blamed severe overcrowding and design flaws for making it easier for inmate to escape. The jail is licensed for 197 inmates. On Wednesday morning it was holding 296.

"Just the fact that they're in there under terrible conditions makes them want to leave more than they ordinarily would," Mize said.

The jailer attacked by inmates, Josh Petit, suffered abrasions and a swollen hand. He was treated and released.