Captured prison escapee has long criminal history in Shelby County

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — After 24 hours on the run, escaped inmate Samuel Bridges is back behind bars. But as WREG found, he has a long list of previous run-ins with the law.

WREG investigated Bridges' criminal background and found more than 10 charges dating back to 1996.

Bridges is accused of stealing a car and evading police before, which was exactly what he’s accused of doing Tuesday when he escaped incarceration.

Bridges was at-large for nearly 24 hours after allegedly stealing a Department of Corrections van and driving away from a work site Tuesday afternoon. But even before he was brought back into custody, law enforcement officers were confident he would be captured without incident.

“We have some of the finest law enforcement officers in the world working right here in Shelby County," District Attorney Amy Weirich said during the search. "No stone will go un-turned until he is located and brought back to justice.”

And on Wednesday, Bridges was brought back to justice with no incident, according the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

The capture is a huge relief to the area because Bridges has a long history of run-ins with the law. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Bridges’ criminal history dates back 23 years to 1996, when he was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute or sell.

Bridges’ escape Tuesday has a lot in common with more crimes in his past. In November 2013, he was charged with burglary, theft and evading the police. In total, he’s faced four counts of theft and four counts of burglary, among other charges.

Now he’s back behind bars, but it serves as a reminder to residents of Shelby County of how they can help if an inmate does escape.

“By all means, call law enforcement and report it," Weirich said. "Even if you’re wrong, please, by all means give that information to law enforcement. If anything just doesn’t seem right, report that."

WREG is still waiting to see exactly what Bridges is charged with after this escape.

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