More than 39 hours ago, two inmates on a transport bus got out of a locked prisoner area, overpowered two Georgia correctional officers and shot and and killed the guards in front of 31 other prisoners, according to local, state and federal authorities.
The fugitives, identified by the Georgia Department of Corrections as Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, went on to carjack a dark green 2004 Honda Civic, break into a home in Madison, dump their prison clothes and escape again, officials said.
A massive nationwide search is underway for the inmates, who have a long history of violent crimes.
Here’s the latest:
9:15 p.m: Funeral arrangements have been made for Sgt. Christopher Monica. Services will take place at 2 p.m. next Tuesday, June 20, at First United Methodist Church in Milledgeville. Monica was one of the first officers identified after he and Sgt. Curtis Billue were shot and killed by two inmates on a transport bus Tuesday morning. The suspects, Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, have been on the run for 39 hours.
7 p.m.: Authorities increased the reward from $90,000 to $115,000, as officials continue their search for two wanted fugitives accused of killing two officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.
5:25 p.m.: Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said the green Honda Civic that the prisoners carjacked has been found concealed in woods, “not far from the scene of the burglary” in Morgan County -- the last place the two men were spotted. Sills
Sills asked people to continue searching for a white Ford pickup that authorities believe the two stole from a Madison business between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday.
2:41 p.m.: After shooting two Georgia correctional officers on a prison transport bus, two inmates kicked a glass panel in the folding door that passengers climb through to get on and off the bus, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The first deputy on the scene found 31 other inmates on the bus in handcuffs. The engine was running.
2:13 p.m.: Channel 2 Action News has obtained photos of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, the slain Georgia correctional officers.
1:37 p.m.: The press conference has ended.
1:36 p.m.: Inmates are transferred randomly so they don’t get too familiar with their surroundings, Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said.
1:35 p.m.: It wasn't a medical transport, Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said. The inmates were being transported to a diagnostic facility, which is a stopping point for them to have their needs assessed before they are transferred to another prison.
1:34 p.m.: “The families are struggling just like you’d expect they would be,” Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said. “They’re taking this hard just as we are.”Way too early to talk about changes in how they handle transports.
1:33 p.m.: Sills called the inmates the “typical criminal.” They were cellmates at Baldwin State Prison, according to a Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said.
“They had been cellmates before inside our facility, so they have known each other quite a while,” he said.
1:29 p.m.: Officials believe the inmates were the people who stole the truck because of tracks and footprints found at the business, Sills said.
1:28 p.m.: Sills said he’s spoken to officials in Virginia and Texas.
"This is a very fluid, nationwide investigation,” he said.
1:23 p.m.: A truck was stolen from a business at an industrial site about 9 miles from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office in Madison, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.
The business, just off I-20, closed at 6 p.m. Tuesday and opened again at 6 a.m. Wednesday. Officials think the truck was stolen in that time frame.
There was fuel on site the fugitives may have accessed, Sills said.
"We desperately need the public's help in finding both of these vehicles," Sills said.
1:20 p.m.: Sills called the search for the inmates frustrating. The green Honda they carjacked after the shooting has not been recovered. It's unknown if the fugitives are still together or if they split up.
“It’s a possibility they split up,” Sills said, calling them “dangerous criminals.”
1:19 p.m.: Officials have increased the reward from $70,000 to $90,000 in the search for two inmates accused of shooting and killing two Georgia correctional officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said during a press conference.
Several agencies contributed to the reward, including the FBI, the Georgia Department of Corrections, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Butts, Putnam and Spalding county sheriff’s offices also contributed.
UPDATE [1:09 p.m.]: Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills is about to brief news outlets on the search for two inmates accused of shooting and killing two Georgia correctional officers. Watch the press conference here.
EARLIER: Dubose and Rowe stole a new vehicle in Morgan County, officials said Wednesday afternoon.
The inmates may now be in a white, 2008 Ford F-250 with Georgia license plate BCX 5372 that was stolen overnight from the Seven Islands Road area, authorities said. Their direction of travel is unknown.
Officials have increased the reward from $60,000 to $70,000 for information leading to the capture of Dubose and Rowe.
The FBI, the GBI and other agencies are offering a $35,000 for each man. And that amount could increase as more people and organizations offer to help, GBI director Vernon Keenan said.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced for the slain Baldwin State Prison officers, identified as Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue.
Monica, 42, of Milledgeville, had been with the Department of Corrections since October 2009. Billue, 58, also of Milledgeville, had been with the agency since July 2007.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to financially assist his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren, Monica “was taking on extra shifts at work so his wife wouldn't have to work since she recently has some worsening health issues.”
Susan Caro Bergeron, the organizer of the page, said the officer “prayed daily for these criminals and sadly ended up dying at the hands of two.”
WHAT WE KNOW
The deadly shootings happened about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday on Ga. 16 in Putnam County, between Eatonton and Sparta, prompting officials to place all Department of Corrections facilities across the state on lockdown for the foreseeable future.
Dubose and Rowe overtook the guards, who were driving a transport bus, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.
One officer was driving the bus. The other was in a seat adjacent to him. There was a gate between the officers and the inmates.
The two prisoners “went through the gate,” Sills said. “I can't tell you how the gate got open. It should have been locked. It may have been locked. I have no idea."
After disarming the officers, one of the inmates shot and killed them, he said.
The shootings, Sills said, were caught on video.
Dubose and Rowe then carjacked that Honda Civic with Georgia license plate RBJ 6601 and sped off in the stolen car, according to officials. The person in the Honda was not injured.
The men were reportedly seen Tuesday in a Family Dollar store on Eatonton Road in Madison, Ga., where they also ransacked a house, stole clothes and food. Madison is in Morgan County.
Sills has scheduled a press conference for 1:15 p.m. at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the hunt for Dubose and Rowe.
Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday the manhunt “will not let up” until they are captured.
Local, state and federal officials have pledged resources to assist in the search. Deal said “no effort will be spared” to track down the fugitives.
FBI agents were sent to Putnam, agency spokesman Steve Emmett said.
“We may add more resources if this is a protracted manhunt,” he said. “These two individuals have proven themselves to be extremely dangerous and with the murder of two correctional officers they are on the radar of all law enforcement in Georgia.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Do not approach Dubose and Rowe if you see them, officials said. They took the slain officers’ .40-caliber Glock pistols, Sills said.
According to a law enforcement alert, Dubose is in an Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters.
Dubose, 24, is 6-foot-1 and 140 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He was convicted of financial identity fraud, credit card fraud, burglary by forced entry, theft by taking and entering a vehicle in Madison County in August 2010.
That same month, Dubose was convicted of robbery in Gwinnett County. He was sentenced to 20 years in Baldwin State Prison after he was convicted of aggravated assault, armed robbery and theft by taking in Elbert County in September 2014, according to the Department of Corrections.
Elbert sheriff’s Capt. Darren Scarborough said Dubose took $100 from an acquaintance at gunpoint and shot him in the hand.
“He’s off the chain,” Scarborough said. “He’s just a loose cannon. He’s well-known to us.”
Scarborough said Dubose’s mother, brother and girlfriend live in Madison County, which adjoins Elbert.
He said local police and deputies were “out in force” and ready to help Putnam look for Rowe and Dubose.
“He’s very dangerous and he has nothing to lose and I think he will go down in a blaze of glory,” Scarborough said. “And that’s sad because some officer will have to answer for shooting him.”
Rowe, 43, is 6-foot-1 and 181 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He was convicted of armed robbery, possession of a firearm during a crime and aggravated assault in Bibb County in October 2001, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records. He was serving a life sentence without parole in Baldwin State Prison.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the fugitives is asked to call the FBI at 404-679-9000 or the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 706-485-8557.
—Staff writers Steve Burns, Raisa Habersham and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.
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