COLUMBUS, Ohio — An escaped prison inmate used the phone at a small general store and bought an iced tea and a lighter at a counter where his mug shot was displayed before a customer tackled him, ending a daylong search in a matter of minutes, store workers said Friday.
Store employees said James David Myers tried to use change from his pocket to cover up his picture before he was tackled and tied up with rope off the shelf Thursday night, less than 24 hours after he was found to be missing from a prison about 8 miles away in Mansfield.
The prison and the State Highway Patrol have refused to discuss how Myers, who worked in the prison’s maintenance area, escaped before a head count Wednesday, his 47th birthday.
Employees at the Olivesburg General Store in rural north-central Ohio reported Myers asked to use the phone Thursday evening, saying his vehicle broke down nearby.
Employee Greg Gallaway said he was scooping ice cream when, in disbelief, he and a customer wearing an American flag T-shirt recognized Myers at about the same time.
When Myers stepped back to the counter to buy a candy bar, the customer grabbed Myers from behind. Surveillance video shows the man in the flag shirt pinning Myers to the floor.
‘‘It was awesome, honestly,’’ said Gallaway.