PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. -- Police and law enforcement officials from throughout the Southeast continue to search for two escaped inmates accused of shooting and killing two corrections officers in Putnam County on Tuesday morning.
A statewide manhunt has been underway since the incident, when authorities said Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe were being transported on a bus when they allegedly overpowered the guards, killed them and escaped.
Veteran correctional officers Christopher Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58, were killed in the incident.
The incident happened on Hwy 16 West of Sparta near Eatonton around 6:45 a.m. when there were 33 prisoners and two guards on the bus.
A local resident was driving along Hwy. 16 when he saw the stopped bus and mistakenly thought it was part of a work detail. When he stopped his car, police said the inmates robbed him at gunpoint. The driver was unharmed and flagged down the next car for help.
The car that was stolen is described as a light green 2004 Honda Civic 4 door with GA license plate RBJ6601. It had a UGA plate on the front of the car.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said the inmates are armed with the slain officers' .40 caliber pistols, and are "dangerous beyond belief."
Police said Ricky Dubose (W/M 6'1 140 pounds) and Donnie Russell Rowe (W/M 6'1 181 pounds) are the suspects.
Dubose has brown hair and blue eyes. He is serving a 20 year sentence for armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft by taking from a 2014 case out of Elbert Co.
The reward for their capture was raised to $90,000 Wednesday afternoon.
In August 2010, Dubose was charged with several fraud and theft charges in Madison County. He also had a robbery charge in Gwinnett County in that same month.
Rowe has brown hair and blue eyes. He was in prison for armed robbery, possession of a firearm during a crime and aggravated assault. He was serving a life sentence with no parole from a 2001 case in Bibb Co.
Both were being housed at Baldwin State Prison. Baldwin State Prison is in Hardwick, Ga. and is a medium security prison built in 1976. It houses adult male felons and has a capacity of 925 inmates.
The US Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are involved in the search, along with several other agencies.
"We are searching everywhere in America,' said Sills. "They could be headed anywhere."
Sills said he doesn't know how the inmates were able to overpower the guards and kill them.
"I can't tell you how they got through the gate," Sills said, who added the guards were shot on the bus. "I still have their blood on my shoes."
During a 6:30 p.m. media briefing on Tuesday, Sills said the inmates broke into a home on Cox Road in Morgan County earlier in the day. The home was ransacked, Sills said, and Dubose and Rowe stole some food and clothes.
Morgan County Sheriff Capt. Christopher Bish said when the inmates broke into the home in Madison, they left their prison whites.
A tip lead investigators to a Family Dollar store in Madison. According to 11Alive's Faith Abubey, officers cleared the stores in the plaza. Some were seen headed into a wooded area nearby. Bish said there was a confirmed sighting at the store, but witnesses were unsure whether the inmates left in a vehicle or by foot.
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"We do have confirmation that they were in the Family Dollar earlier this afternoon -- around 2:30ish -- and that's why we're doing the grid search both north and south of this location," Bish said.
However, Sills later said police have not confirmed they were in the store.
Heavily-armed law enforcement officers cleared the retail stores one by one along Eatonton Road, and then moved to search a nearby Budget Inn room by room.
According to the GBI, a $70,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the inmates' arrest.
Sheriff Sills had a message for the escaped inmates: "I would suggest you surrender before we find you."
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, officers Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58, were hired in October 2009 and July 2007, respectively.
Greg Dozier, Department of Corrections Commissioner, said the phone call about the deaths hit him hard: "My heart is still in the soles of my shoes."
Dozier said both officers leave behind families and described them as "great officers."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that Jim Green, an attorney speaking for Billue's family, 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."
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