How the escaped Georgia inmates were captured by Tennessee homeowners

June 16, 2017 - 12:40 pm
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(HARDWICK, Ga.) -- Georgia inmates Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose, who were armed and on the run for over 48 hours after one of them shot and killed two correctional officers Tuesday, were taken into custody in Tennessee Thursday after they allegedly held a couple hostage at gunpoint and led police on a high-speed car chase.

Hours before their capture, Putnam County, Georgia, Sheriff Howard Sills said the public was in "grave danger" and that authorities did not know where the dangerous inmates were.

Here is how the dramatic apprehension unfolded:

Between 5 and 5:30 p.m. local time Thursday, a couple in Shelbyville, Tennessee, reported that they had been held at gunpoint and tied up during a home invasion, Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing said.

The escaped inmates allegedly held the couple hostage for hours, from about 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. local time, said Josh DeVine, spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The man and woman were threatened during the ordeal, Swing said. One victim had broken free, but was tied up again, Swing said. Rowe and Dubose ate food in the couple's house, Swing said, and later fled in one of the couple's cars, after which the victims were able to free themselves and call authorities.

The victims told responding deputies that the men were the inmates who escaped from custody in Georgia, Swing said.

After a Rutherford County, Tennessee, Sheriff's Office unit spotted the couple's stolen car on the road, authorities were called in and they pursued the suspects in a 10-minute chase with speeds reaching over 100 miles per hour, officials said.

Two of the sheriff’s office vehicles, with deputies inside, were fired upon during the pursuit, said Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.

Rowe and Dubose then crashed and fled on foot, Goodwin said.

The inmates allegedly went to another home to try to steal a vehicle there, but the homeowner held the suspects at gunpoint, said Bill Miller, spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The homeowner allegedly asked for help from his neighbor, who also had a firearm, and they detained the suspects until the authorities arrived, Miller said.

When officers approached, Rowe and Dubose surrendered and were taken into custody without injuries, Goodwin said.

Two weapons were found at the site where the suspects crashed, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

Rowe and Dubose made their first appearance while in Rutherford County custody on Friday, waiving their extradition to Georgia.

The massive manhunt began Tuesday morning, after Rowe and Dubose, who were cellmates at Baldwin State Prison, overpowered two correctional officers who were driving a transport bus along Georgia State Route 16 in Putnam County, about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The prisoners allegedly breached a protective gate on the bus to reach the officers at the front of the bus, before disarming and killing them both, the sheriff's office said. It is unclear which inmate shot and killed the two correctional officers.

The prisoners, armed with the officers' weapons, then allegedly carjacked a resident who was driving by, and fled west toward Eatonton, the sheriff's office said. Police believed the suspects then stole a second car in Morgan County, Georgia, near a home where they were believed to have broken into to change clothes, authorities said Wednesday.

The two men were cellmates and friends in prison, and may have planned their escape; however, the bus ride Tuesday morning was unscheduled, officials said.

At the time of the shooting, 31 other inmates were on board the bus, which was en route to a diagnostic facility when the escape took place. Those inmates provided assistance to investigators, officials said.

Rowe is serving life without parole for armed robbery, the department of corrections said, and Dubose is serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery.

The slain Baldwin State Prison officers were Christopher Monica, 42, who was hired in 2009, and Curtis Billue, 58, who was hired in 2007, Georgia Corrections said.

"Both officers were known for their unwavering commitment to their job and their love of family," the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier said, "Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of two of our officers, who are our family."

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