A WXTB/Tampa contest involving fake prison inmates caused quite a ruckus on Friday when dozens of people called 911 after seeing what they thought were escaped inmates on the streets. As part of a 98 Rock contest, three men dressed in orange jumpsuits with "county jail" printed on the back. They were shackled around the waist and feet and dropped off near State Road 54 and Suncoast Parkway. Whoever made it back to the Clear Channel radio station first would win a trip to Los Angeles in conjunction with the new Fox television show, Prison Break. The Tampa Tribune reported that when motorists and passers by saw the men, more than 30 terrified people called sheriff's office and morning rush hour traffic was held up. The men were picked up by police within 30 minutes.
"Force could have been applied, resulting in injury or death, if officers had felt threatened," sheriff's Maj. Maurice Radford told the Tribune. "That is what caused our greatest concern."
Radford also said that the men approached motorists and asked for rides. They were taken to the sheriff's substation in Land O' Lakes for background checks, but no one was arrested Friday. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident and Radford couldn't say whether charges will be brought against 98 Rock or the contestants.
"We're concerned because of the danger it [could have meant] for citizens who were alarmed," he said. "Our dispatch center was overwhelmed."