SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. >> Two escaped inmates sought in the killings of two guards on a Georgia prison bus were captured today in Tennessee after holding an elderly couple captive and leading police on a chase by car and foot, authorities said.
Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose were captured in Christiana, Tennessee, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.
Police in Shelbyville, Tennessee, responded to a call about a home invasion, where Rowe and Dubose held an elderly couple captive and then fled in the couple’s vehicle, Miles said. Officers responded and chased the pair. The inmates got into a wreck, left the vehicle and then led police on a foot chase before both men were taken into custody in the community of Christiana, she said.
Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said in a news release that he was relieved the two inmates were captured and no longer a threat to the public.
“They will be brought to justice swiftly for their heinous crime against our Officers,” he said, also expressing gratitude to all of the law enforcement officers who provided support and assistance in the search for the two men.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal applauded the “tireless efforts” of law enforcement but also turned his thoughts to the families of the two officers, saying their pain remains.
“We will do everything in our power to support their loved ones, and we will not forget their sacrifice and service,” Deal said.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said the bureau’s agents will take part in processing the scene. The Tennessee Department of Transportation said traffic was being diverted on Interstate 24 east in Rutherford County until about 11 p.m.
The two men had been on the run since early Tuesday, when they are accused of having killed Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue.
The two inmates overpowered and disarmed the guards about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday as 33 inmates were being driven between prisons, authorities have said. One of them fatally shot both guards, and then they jumped out of the bus and carjacked a driver who happened to pull up behind them on a state Highway 16 in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta, authorities said.
The two inmates then fled in the stolen Honda Civic and drove about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north to Madison, where they ransacked a home, stealing food and clothes and leaving their prison uniforms behind around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Late Tuesday night, about 12 hours after the home burglary, the pair stole a Ford pickup truck from a rock quarry about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) from the burglarized home. That’s when the trail went cold.
Federal, state and local authorities pleaded with the public today to keep an eye out for the two men and the white pickup truck. The FBI announced a tip line and said pictures of the men and information about a $130,000 reward would appear in multiple states.
Authorities warned that the men, who had escaped with the guards’ 9 mm pistols, were considered very dangerous.
Monica and Billue were transfer sergeants at Baldwin State Prison. Monica had been with the Georgia Department of Corrections since October 2009 and Billue since July 2007.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said the escaped inmates had been inside a secured area of the bus. He said he didn’t know how they got through the locked cage to overpower the guards.
Protocol is to have two armed corrections officers on the bus, but the officers don’t wear bullet-proof vests during transfers, Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said.
Both escapees were serving sentences for armed robbery and other crimes. The Department of Corrections said Rowe, 43, had been serving life without parole since 2002, and Dubose, 24, began a 20-year sentence in 2015.