The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is reporting two corrections officers are dead after a prison bus was hijacked early Tuesday.
Two armed inmates have escaped and are considered very dangerous.
Authorities are looking for Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, who took the officers’.40 caliber Glock pistols.
Rowe is a white male in his 40s, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall, has brown hair and blue eyes and weighs about 180 pounds.
He was serving time in Baldwin State Prison for an armed robbery in Bibb County, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections website.
Dubose is a white male, about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing about 140 pounds.
He was serving time at Baldwin State Prison for armed robbery in Elbert County.
Newer photos of him circulating through law enforcement show him with tattoos on his face and neck.
At last report, the inmates had commandeered a 2004 grass green, Honda Civic, 4-door with Georgia license plate number RBJ6601 and were headed toward Eatonton.
The first call came in shortly before 6 a.m. Tuesday as inmates apparently took control of a prison bus on Ga. 16 near Hancock County.
The men allegedly overpowered two Georgia Department of Corrections officers driving the transport bus.
“They then disarmed them and one of the suspects killed both guards,” a Putnam County sheriff’s bulletin stated.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee is on the scene assisting, as are deputies from Hancock County.
“We’re trying to get this bus unloaded,” Massee said at about 9 a.m. “We have 32 inmates getting off the bus.”
The shooting happened between Eatonton and Sparta on Ga. 16.
Sparta Highway was blocked and deputies were rerouting traffic to Texas Chapel Road in Putnam County.
Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath initially could not provide additional details.
“Everything is happening as we speak,” she told The Telegraph by telephone.
The department later confirmed the deaths of two transport officers and the identity of the suspects.
“Please keep the families of our officers in your thoughts and prayers,” Jeal Salter stated in a public affairs news release.
According to Telegraph archives, Rowe was convicted of a 2001 armed robbery at the Super 8 motel on Arkwright Road.
Rowe and accomplice robbed two men they met at a strip club in Atlanta that night.
Rowe and the other man also were charged with a robbery at the I-75 South rest stop in Monroe County on their way to Macon.
“This is one continuous crime spree perpetrated by these two dangerous can men,” assistant district attorney Sandra Matson stated at trial.
Rowe had two prior convictions for burglary, robbery and grand theft auto and was sentenced in 2002 to life without parole, followed by an additional five years.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during testimony before a Senate budget panel in Washington Tuesday morning that federal resources are being committed to help catch the fugitives.
“An attack on any American law enforcement officer is an attack on every American law enforcement officer and the principles we all believe in,” he said.
Come back to macon.com for updates on this breaking story and read Wednesday’s Telegraph.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.