The two inmates that authorities say escaped a Georgia corrections bus after killing two guards were captured Thursday night in Christiana, Tenn., after an intense three-day manhunt and high-speed police chase.
Police found the fugitives, Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russel Rowe, and took them into custody after they invaded the home of an elderly couple in nearby Shelbyville, Tenn., about 58 miles south of Nashville, law enforcement authorities said in a news conference Thursday.
Dubose and Rowe had been running from police since Tuesday morning, when they managed to overpower the drivers of the corrections bus that was transporting them in Putnam County, Ga.
“They then disarmed them and one of the subjects shot and killed both guards,” Howard R. Sills, the Putnam County sheriff, said in a statement earlier this week. The corrections officers were later identified Christopher Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58.
The escape of the armed men prompted a manhunt that lasted nearly three days, spanned several states and put the region on edge. Authorities scattered images of the heavily tattooed men across social media, and the FBI rolled out a nationwide billboard campaign seeking out any information, the Associated Press reported. A reward for tips leading to their capture rose to at least $130,000.
“This is a great day in Tennessee,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Lt. Bill Miller said in a news conference. “This ended as well as it could ever have been imagined.”
The two fugitives invaded the elderly couple’s home at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, holding them captive for three hours, Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing said in a separate news conference. The armed men told the couple they were the Georgia convicts and threatened to kill them if they resisted. They tied up the husband with belts, put socks on his hands, and held a gun to his head.
Then they stole clothing, jewelry and other valuable items from their home, even eating the wife’s beef soup. Swing presumed the men stole long-sleeved shirts “to cover the tattoos,” he said. They then fled the residence in a vehicle belonging to the couple, who managed to free themselves and call police shortly after.
“They are extremely traumatized,” Swing said of the couple. “They are very lucky to be alive.”
Sheriff deputies chased the men on Interstate 24 for about 10 miles, as the fugitives fired numerous gun shots at their vehicles. No one was wounded, Miller said. After crashing the car, Dubose and Rowe ran on foot for several miles into a densely wooded area.
The fugitives came across a home nearby, where they attempted to steal another vehicle. But the homeowner stepped out and held the men at gunpoint, with the assistance of another neighbor, until police arrived, Miller said.
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Both of the suspects are now in custody at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. Rowe, 43, is serving a sentence for aggravated assault and Dubose, 24, for armed robbery, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Authorities have located both of their weapons from the crash site and turned them over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said in the news conference.
Swing said authorities had suspected the fugitives might travel to this area because they had family nearby. But the fact that the nationwide manhunt ended in Swing’s county shocked him.
“You watch it on the news, and to think it’s going to end in a household in your county, it’s like wow,” Swing said. “I didn’t expect it.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) commended the “tireless efforts” of law enforcement that led to the capturing of these “dangerous fugitives.”
“The pain endured by the families and loved ones of Sergeant Christopher Monica and Sergeant Curtis Billue endures, however,” Deal said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to support their loved ones, and we will not forget their sacrifice and service.”
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