A two-day manhunt that had the South on edge came to a close Thursday after two Georgia inmates who allegedly shot and killed two correctional officers were captured off a highway in Tennessee.
Ricky Dubose, 24, and Donnie Rowe, 43, escaped Baldwin State Prison on Tuesday morning after they overpowered and shot two correctional officers — Christopher Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58 — with their own guns while the prisoners were being moved to another facility via a transport bus.
They were captured at a home off Interstate 24 after a high-speed car chase that included an exchange of gunfire — an estimated 20 shots. The fugitives escaped into the woodline Thursday evening but were later held at gunpoint by a local man when they tried to steal his car, a spokesman for Tennessee Highway Patrol said.
Georgia Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier confirmed the capture in a statement.
"We are relieved to know that these two dangerous individuals have been taken off the streets, and the public is out of harm's way,” Dozier said. "They will be brought to justice swiftly for their heinous crime against our Officers."
Authorities reported that the trail had gone cold after a series of false sightings in South Carolina on Wednesday. In response, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI joined forces to offer a reward that grew to $130,000 for information that led to an arrest.
Before the capture, a lead developed when a couple in Shelbyville, Tennessee, reported that they had been tied up in their home by the escaped inmates, Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing told NBC affiliate WSMV.
Dubose and Rowe put guns to the the couple's heads and threatened their lives, ate soup in their house and stole their clothing and valuables before leaving after about three hours in the couple's black Jeep Cherokee, Swing said.
According to Swing, the escaped convicts intended to take the woman with them, but decided against it. They gagged and tied her up, bound the man with belts and put socks on his hands so he wouldn't be able to use his fingers, he said. The couple were able to untie themselves later and call police.
"They are extremely traumatized," Swing said. "I know both of them — great people — but they are extremely traumatized. Thankfully, they have some family here with them, so they're dealing with it now."
Later that evening, police attempted to stop the car that Row and Dubose were driving on Interstate 24. The two men fired 20 shots at police during the high-speed chase, but only hit the frames of the police cars. The escapees wrecked the car, got out and fled on foot into the woods, authorities said.
According to authorities, the two men ran on foot into the woods where they momentarily lost police. They came upon a home where they attempted to steal a car, but the homeowner came outside and held the fugitives at gunpoint until a neighbor came to assist. Police were then called and arrested the two men.
Steve Emmett, a spokesman for the Atlanta field office of the FBI, confirmed to NBC News that the two inmates were in custody.
The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives collaborated with the GBI in response to the convicts' escape.
The highway where the car was stopped remained a crime scene Thursday evening, causing traffic to back up for several miles, according to WSMV.