Prisoner who escaped custody and got a firearm surrenders to authorities in Tennessee

Prisoner who escaped custody and got a firearm surrenders to authorities in Tennessee
Tennessee Department of Corrections

A Tennessee prisoner escaped from a work detail, eluded his captors, obtained a gun and barricaded himself in a Knoxville home this weekend before ultimately surrendering to authorities, officials said.

Jason Copley, 44, escaped from custody of the Morgan County Correctional Facility when he walked away from a work detail, the Department of Corrections said.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections contacted the Tennessee Highway Patrol Saturday night to ask for assistance in locating him, and the highway patrol then contacted Knoxville Police, based on suspicion Copley was in the Knoxville area, according to the Knoxville Police. Copley’s last listed address was in Knoxville, police said.

Copley was eventually located in a home on Woodrow Drive in Knoxville, police said. As law enforcement personnel tried to make contact with people in the home, Department of Correction officers reported hearing shots fired inside. Knoxville Police said on Twitter the man was “known to be armed.”

At about 3 a.m. Sunday, Knoxville Police crisis negotiators were called to the scene to speak with Copley. After about three hours of negotiations, Copley agreed to peacefully surrender, exited the home, and was taken into custody at about 6:45 a.m., police said. There were no injuries reported.

Copley was sentenced in 2018 to 8 years in prison for charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, according to prison records.

The Morgan County Correctional Facility is located about 35 miles west-northwest of Knoxville. The facility can house up to 2,441 incarcerated people and is designed as a medium security prison, with 120 beds for maximum security. The facility also includes community service work crews, which “provide thousands of hours of labor to local government and nonprofit organizations each year,” its website says.

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