Police: Officers killed, inmates on run in Georgia
Two Georgia inmates described as "dangerous beyond description" remained on the run Wednesday after disarming and killing their guards on a prison bus, authorities said. The reward for information leading to their arrests continued to grow.
Authorities said Donnie Russell Rowe, serving life without parole, and Ricky Dubose, who has prominent tattoos on his face and neck, overpowered and fatally shot Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue with their own guns as the guards drove 33 inmates between prisons.
Then they escaped by carjacking a driver who happened to pull up behind the bus on a rural highway, setting off a massive manhunt involving local, state and federal officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.
Sills was emotional as he described the initial scene to reporters.
"I saw two brutally murdered corrections officers, that's what I saw," he said. "I have their blood on my shoes."
Authorities said the two inmates got into a "grass green," four-door 2004 Honda Civic with the Georgia license plate number RBJ-6601 and drove west on state Highway 16 toward Eatonton, southeast of Atlanta.
The two got a head start by taking and tossing the Honda driver's cellphone and leaving the other 31 prisoners locked inside the bus, Sills said.
They made their way to Madison, about 25 miles to the north, and "thoroughly ransacked" a house there around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. They took some food and likely some clothes, leaving their prison uniforms behind, Sills said.
It's not clear where they went after that, but Sills said he suspects they are no longer in the Madison area.
Sills has described the inmates, who took the correctional officers' pistols, as "dangerous beyond description" and has said anyone who sees them should call 911 immediately. His biggest fear, he said, is that they're going to kill someone else.
The reward for information leading to the arrests of Rowe, 43, and Dubose, 24, continued to grow. Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in an email Wednesday that multiple agencies have contributed $70,000.
Monica, 42, and Billue, 58, were both transfer sergeants at Baldwin State Prison. Monica had been with the Georgia Department of Corrections since October 2009 and Billue since July 2007.
How the two inmates managed to reach and overpower them is a matter for the Corrections Department to investigate, said Sills, insisting that he's focused on bringing the fugitives to justice.
"They were inside the caged area of the bus," he said. "How they got through the locks and things up to that area I do not know."
The sheriff said the bus is equipped with video, and he's watched it on a cellphone, but couldn't tell which inmate fired the fatal shots at 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.
"We lost two of our fellow officers, two of our kin. We see our officers as our family," Dozier said.
"Officer Billue's family asks for prayers for all of those who are now placing their own lives at risk to bring these men to justice and asks anyone who has information that may assist in apprehending these perpetrators to please contact law enforcement," Jim Green, an attorney who's speaking for the Billue family, said in an email Tuesday.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal pledged every state resource necessary to catch the pair, and vowed that the guards' selflessness and sacrifice will not be forgotten.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said federal resources are being committed to help catch the fugitives. The FBI and U.S. Marshals have joined the investigation, Sills said.
Both escaped inmates were serving long sentences for armed robbery and other crimes. The Department of Corrections said Rowe has been serving life without parole since 2002, and Dubose began a 20-year sentence in 2015.
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