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Georgia fugitives surrender to Christiana man

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Patrick Hale shares the harrowing tale of facing Georgia fugitives Ricky Dubose and Donny Rowe in his driveway, while his wife and daughter look on. CAT MURPHY

At 11 p.m. June 15 traffic on I-24 east was still moving at a snail's pace miles west of exit 89, as detectives processed multiple crimes scenes following the afternoon's pursuit and capture of Ricky Dubose and Donny Rowe, who allegedly murdered two Georgia Department of Corrections officers June 13.

Earlier in the afternoon reports came in about an armed robbery and vehicle theft in Bedford County.

"Shortly thereafter one of our deputies spotted the car coming in on 231 south," said Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh. The deputy began following the car, called for backup and then tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the vehicle fled to the interstate and a chase ensued.

"During the pursuit the suspects, and about that time we found out who we were dealing with, started firing on our vehicles," said Fitzhugh.

Two patrol vehicles were shot and hit, but no one was injured.

Dubose and Rowe crashed the stolen car and fled the scene on foot. The interstate was shut down and K-9s were called in.

"At that time we got a call from a homeowner that there was a subject at his house and he had him at gunpoint," said Fitzhugh at the time.

At a press conference the next day the homeowner clarified that while he was armed, he never had to draw his weapon.

Patrick Hale was home alone with his toddler Thursday when, at 6:40 p.m., friends called to warn him about trouble afoot in his neck of the woods.

"I loaded every weapon I could in my house to be prepared in the event that they needed to be used," said Hale. "(At) 6:47 I saw two white males cross a barbed wire fence 300 yards from my backdoor."

Hale called 911.

He decided it was safest to take his daughter and leave. But then Dubose and Rowe approached his driveway, half dressed and waving their shirts at him.

"As they came closer, I began to slowly back up. At that point, I realized I had two ex-cons wanted for murder, who had just shot at law enforcement and (had) nothing to lose."

The pair, he said, laid facedown in his driveway, rising only once to drink from the hose spigot. Three minutes after the 911 call officers arrived. They were arrested by Rutherford County sheriff's deputies at the Christiana home and taken to the county jail.

"If that doesn't make you believe in Jesus Christ, I don't know what will. My family means the world to me. I was ready to do whatever I could to protect them," said Hale, standing at the podium with his wife and daughter. "I cannot tell you how grateful we are that they arrived."

According to Fitzhugh weapons were recovered from the stolen vehicle. The investigation, he said, was turned over to the FBI and TBI, with his office assisting.

"We've got Moore County involved, Bedford County and Rutherford County. And then who knows what other counties that we don't even know about right now," said Fitzhugh. "It's a massive crime scene."

It was a bittersweet day for local law enforcement, who are thankful none of their officers were harmed, but deeply saddened by the deaths of Georgia Corrections Officers Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue.

"It's mixed feelings. It's very good that we were able to catch these individuals. I feel for (Georgia Sheriff Howard Sills) because of what he's going through with his department," said Fitzhugh.

"I think it's a testament to the training, I think it's a testament to our individuals and I think it's a testament to our men and women at the sheriff's office, that they handled themselves very well in a very tight, tough situation. I can't say enough about our people."

He also lauded the cooperation between agencies, and offered support the grieving members of law enforcement in Georgia.

"All the agencies came together. That shows you what can be done when citizens and law enforcement work together."

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