(Reuters) - Police in Georgia mounted an intense search on Tuesday for two escaped inmates who overpowered and shot to death a pair of armed guards aboard a prison bus, then fled with both officers’ guns into the surrounding countryside, authorities said.
Donnie Rowe, 43, and Ricky Dubose, 24, both serving time for armed robbery, escaped around 5:45 a.m. in rural Putnam County, about 70 miles (110 km) southeast of Atlanta, as they were being transported between two prison facilities with 31 other inmates, authorities said.
One of the inmates disarmed and fatally shot both correctional officers before the two prisoners made off with .40-caliber Glock pistols from the slain guards, commandeered a passenger car that was stopped nearby and fled the scene, according to police and corrections officials.
The driver of the carjacked vehicle was not hurt. All the remaining inmates who were aboard the bus remained in custody, law enforcement officials said.
Hours later, the pair broke into a home in Madison, Georgia, where they stole clothing and left their white prison uniforms behind, authorities said. The local sheriff addressed the fugitives directly via Facebook.
“You made your escape, but you won’t be out long,” Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said in a statement. “There is no one you can trust ... and no where you can go that we won’t find you.”
The slain officers were identified as Curtis Billue, 58, who joined the state corrections department in 2007, and Christopher Monica, 42, who was hired in 2009.
“No effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavour will be spared,” Governor Nathan Deal said in a statement.
Both escapees were housed at Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville, Georgia. Rowe had been there since 2002 serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for armed robbery and other offences. Dubose had been in prison since July 2015 serving a 20-year term for armed robbery, according to the corrections department.
Separately, four Oklahoma inmates, including a suspected murderer, escaped from the state’s Lincoln County Jail on Monday.
Also on Monday, a decorated, 15-year veteran Arkansas police officer was fatally shot in a town about 90 miles (140 km) northeast of Little Rock.
Arkansas state police said on Tuesday an 18-year-old suspect was in custody. The suspect, who was not publicly identified, fled the scene of a car break-in and shot the officer during a police pursuit, police said.
Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney