Sheriff says shooting of two Georgia corrections officers caught on video

Donnie Russell Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose are both escaped inmates accused of shooting and killing two Georgia correctional officers in Putnam County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections / Elbert County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections / Elbert County Sheriff's Office

Donnie Russell Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose are both escaped inmates accused of shooting and killing two Georgia correctional officers in Putnam County.

CAUGHT: Georgia inmates captured in Tennessee

The shooting of two Georgia correctional officers Tuesday morning was caught on video, according to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who declined to go into details.

Law enforcement continued to search into the evening for the two inmates who shot the officers and escaped from a bus during a routine prisoner transfer.

The men were reportedly seen in a Family Dollar store on Eatonton Road in Madison, Ga., where they also ransacked a house, stealing clothes and food.

"My concern is with them doing harm to someone else," Sills said during a press conference Tuesday evening.

A command center was set up near the Family Dollar store in Madison. Some area businesses were also on lock down, according to Channel 2 Action News.

A massive nationwide search continues for the two inmates with the FBI, the GBI and other agencies offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the men.

GBI director Vernon Keenan said the reward was $30,000 for each man and he expected that amount to increase as more people and organizations want to help. In addition to the GBI and FBI, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Georgia Department of Corrections contributed to the reward.

“They need to surrender before we find them,”  Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said. “I saw two brutally murdered corrections officers. I have their blood on my shoes.”

Darla Pennington, who lives a short distance from the center of the police action in Madison, said helicopters had been hovering overhead and news crews and law enforcement had blocked the streets much of the day.

The house where the inmates took the clothes is just a few doors away, she said.

Still, Pennington said, she's not nervous because "I'm armed and I've got my house locked."

And, she added, "we have a lot of confidence in our local law enforcement. We feel like they are on top of it."

The deadly shootings happened about 5:45 a.m. 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.

The inmates, identified by the Department of Corrections as Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, overtook the guards, who were driving a transport bus, 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 duo then carjacked a dark green 2004 Honda Civic, sped off in the stolen car, broke into a home in Madison, dumped their prison clothes and escaped again, according to officials. The person in the Honda was not injured.

The Department of Corrections identified the slain Baldwin State Prison officers as Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue. Monica, 42, of Milledgeville, had been with the department since October 2009. Billue, 58, also of Milledgeville, had been with the agency since July 2007.

One of the officers was married.

Monica and Billue are the first Georgia prison guards killed since 2012 when an inmate stabbed Telfair State Prison correctional officer Larry Stell to death, Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said.

"We have spoken to the families,” he said. “As you can imagine, they're (shaken). And they're distraught right now just as you and I would be."

About 31 other prisoners were on the bus and witnessed the deadly shooting, Sills said. A bus with those inmates pulled into the Putnam sheriff’s office just after 11:20 a.m.

Dubose and Rowe were spotted heading toward Spalding County, the sheriff’s office said in a Facbeook post.

“Every deputy who totes a gun and drives a car” is assigned to patrol the Ga. 16 corridor, Spalding sheriff’s Deputy Chief Tony Thomason said.

However, officials said during a news conference late Tuesday morning that the duo could be “just about anywhere.

“We have no idea where they are,” Sills said.

Federal authorities are assisting in the search for Dubose and Rowe, believed to be in a stolen green Honda Civic 4-door with Georgia license plate RBJ 660, Sills said. They are armed with the officers’ .40-caliber Glock pistols, he said.

In a statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called the shootings an attack on American principles.

“An attack on any American law enforcer is an attack on every American law enforcer,” he said.

The slayings occurred hours after an officer in Arkansas was killed Monday night in the line of duty. The alleged gunman was arrested Tuesday morning in connection with that shooting.

Rosenstein pledged “all federal resources to help catch those fugitives and hold the perpetrators accountable” for the deaths of the officers.

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.”

Governor Nathan Deal said “no effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavor will be spared.”

Dubose and Rowe, who have long histories of violent crimes, are considered dangerous and should not be approached, authorities said. According to a law enforcement alert, Dubose is in an Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters.

Ricky Dubose has multiple convictions in Gwinnett, Madison and Elbert counties. (Credit: Walton County Sheriff's Office)

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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 Dubose and Rowe 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.


Two correctional officers were shot and killed by two inmates who escaped in Putnam County.