A Tennessee homeowner is being hailed as a hero after capturing two escaped Georgia inmates who authorities say killed two prison guards, tied up an elderly couple, and shot at police.
Patrick Hale, 35, told reporters last week that he had “loaded up every weapon” he could before engaging with the convicts, but contrary to what has been widely reported, never had to draw his firearm.
Hale was home alone with his young daughter when he received two phone calls from friends warning him that two escaped convicts from Georgia had been involved in a shootout with police on the highway near Hale’s house.
The two men, Donnie R. Rowe and Ricky Dubose, had escaped on Tuesday from a Georgia prison during a routine transfer. They overpowered and disarmed the two corrections officers responsible for the transfer and fatally shot them, authorities said.
Their escape sparked a nationwide manhunt, and only hours before their encounter with Hale they had tied up and threatened to kill an elderly couple. They stole the couple’s Jeep, but soon wrecked it following a 10-mile chase with police. After a brief gunfight with law enforcement, the convicts fled into the woods near Hale’s property.
After receiving warning calls from his neighbors, Hale told reporters he, “loaded up every weapon I could in my house to be prepared in the event that they needed to be used.”
Moments later, Hale saw two men crossing a barbed wire fence approximately 300 yards from his home. Hale said he called 911, “prayed like I have never prayed before,” and decided to flee with his daughter rather than hide in their panic room.
He ran out to his car, but the convicts had covered more ground than he expected. As they approached his car, they took of their shirts and began waving them as if to make Hale stop the car.
Hale continued to back his car out of his driveway, at which point the convicts inexplicably laid face down and surrendered.
“At that point, I realized I had two ex-cons wanted for murder, that just shot at law enforcement and nothing to lose, and for some reason, they started to surrender and laid down on their stomachs in my concrete driveway,” Hale said, adding, “If that doesn’t make you believe in Jesus Christ, I don’t know what will.”
“I had a weapon on me, but I never had to draw the weapon like it has been released in the news,” he said.
Hale told reporters that he believes Rowe and Dubose may have surrendered because his car looks like a police cruiser.
Forty-five law enforcement officers arrived three minutes after the men surrendered. During that time, Rowe and Dubose got up and took a drink of water from a nearby faucet.
Asked what was going through his mind when the men stood up, Hale responded that he had left his truck in front of his house with the keys and a loaded shotgun in the front seat. He was worried that the men would attempt to steal it. Instead, they walked back to the driveway and lay down on their stomachs.
Hale reiterated throughout the press conference that he does not feel like a hero. He said he just called 911 and explained to the dispatcher what was happening.
As for the $130,000 reward for the capture of Rowe and Dubose, Hale said he “has not really gone down that road yet.”