After some 60 hours on the run, a pair of escaped Georgia inmates wanted for gunning down two correctional officers were caught Thursday night in Tennessee. The pair’s capture was as dramatic as their brazen escape - complete with a home invasion, a police chase, a shootout and a civilian armed with an AR-15.
For Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, the end began when they burst into the home of an elderly couple near Shelbyville, Tenn. and tied them up, authorities said.
After three hours - leaving the couple bound - Dubose and Rowe took off again with the couple’s cell phone and Jeep. But as they were driving away, a Tennessee trooper was arriving at the couple’s home to perform a welfare check. A chase ensued, the fugitives wrecked the stolen Jeep and fled into the woods. At some point, shots were fired but no one was wounded.
They stumbled out of the woods and ran into a man in his yard armed with an AR-15. He held the two at gunpoint until authorities arrived.
GBI Director Vernon Keenan said Dubose and Rowe walked out of the woods with their hands up and told the homeowner “they wanted to give up because the police had them surrounded.”
Tennessee authorities took the men into custody. They still had the slain officers guns. The white Ford pickup truck they stole in Georgia was found abandoned in Moore County, Tenn.
“It happened the way we thought it would,” Keenan said. “They would do a crime and it would escalate.”
GBI agents were dispatched to Tennessee, and the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation went to the scene.
Rowe is from Lewisburg, Tenn., roughly 20 miles from where the men were found. Gov. Nathan Deal announced the arrest with a tweet at 8:06 p.m.
The capture was a relief to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who said the county’s work isn’t done.
“The burden of danger is off, and that’s the greatest relief we have,” he said.
The officers were killed in a state prison transport bus along Georgia 16 in Putnam County and Sills was among the first at the scene.
“Blood was running out of the bus onto the pavement,” Sills said earlier Thursday.
Sills said Dubose and Rowe face charges in three Tennessee counties and were sent to that state’s Rutherford County jail. It is not known when they’ll be extradited to Georgia.
The veteran sheriff said his heart was still with the officers, their families and other victims of the inmates’ alleged crimes.
“I’m sorry it ever happened,” he said. “I’m sorry those people in Tennessee have suffered...I can assure you they were traumatized by (the inmates) coming into their home. My sympathies to the families.”
The arrests come on the same day as authorities all but acknowledged they had no idea where the men had gone after they apparently stole clothes and a white Ford pickup truck in Morgan County, some 60 miles east of Atlanta.
A myriad of federal, state and local law enforcement agents had been scouring the state and the country for Rowe and Dubose, both serving sentences that don’t allow for parole.
Friends, relatives and known acquaintances had been interviewed. A state patrol helicopter was at the ready. Agents, deputies and police officers were following up on tips phoned in.
Law enforcement had been deluged with tips as the reward for the arrest of the two fugitives climbed to $130,000 — $65,000 for each.
The chase began after DuBose and Rowe - twice cellmates at Baldwin State Prison - overpowered two correctional officers during a routine transport.
They somehow managed to get around the metal door that was supposed to protect the officers in the front of the bus, wrest away two 9 mm Glocks and repeatedly shoot correctional officers Sgt. Christopher Monica, 42, and Sgt. Curtis Billue, 58.
After breaking out of the glass of the bus door, they carjacked a green Honda Civic passing by and disappeared.
Thirty-one other inmates remained on the bus, idling along the side of the highway.
The officers’ deaths quickly spurred a nationwide search for the two escaped inmates described as “dangerous beyond description” and with nothing to lose.
Both inmates have lengthy criminal records.
Rowe, 43, was serving life without parole for a 2001 armed robbery in Bibb County. Dubose, 24, and a member of the Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters, was sentenced to 20 years in Elbert County, and that sentence will not expire until 2034.
Dubose and Rowe face a possible death sentence if they are convicted of murdering the two correctional officers.
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