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Shelbyville, Tenn. — The man credited by law enforcement with holding two Georgia prison escapees at gunpoint until police arrived rejected the “hero” label on Friday, and said credit should go to forces well beyond his control.

“I realized I had two ex-cons wanted for murder who had just shot at law enforcement who had nothing to lose and for some reason they surrendered and laid down on the concrete in my driveway,” Patrick Hale said. “If that doesn’t make you believe in Jesus Christ, I don’t know what does.”

Hale said friends had just alerted him that the fugitives wanted in the slayings of two prison guards had been spotted in his area of rural Tennessee, so he quickly loaded his guns. Moments later, he saw them climb over his fence and approach his home, where he was alone with his little girl.

He decided to flee — getting into his car with his girl. Then, just as he prepared for the worst, the inmates took off their shirts and waved them in the air in a sign of surrender. He thinks they mistook his car for a law enforcement vehicle.

He said he never had to pull out his weapon — but the wait was agonizing. More than 45 police officers began showing up within three minutes, he said.

“I cannot tell you how grateful I was to see them arrive,” Hale said.

The manhunt for Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose suddenly focused on Tennessee Thursday evening after the fugitives invaded a home in Shelbyville and held a man and his wife hostage for several hours.

That couple “are lucky they’re alive,” Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing said. The fugitives “told them that they would probably be dead in 24 hours and they didn’t have anything to lose.”

The fugitives tied them up, and when the man tried to break free, they tied him up tighter, putting socks on his hands so he couldn’t loosen his bonds, Swing said.

By about 5 p.m. they were on the run again, in the couple’s Jeep. Within 15 minutes, the couple managed to call for help.

Deputies spotted the car and chased it for 20 miles at high-speed, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Miller said.

The chase ended with a crash near the community of Christiana, Tennessee. With deputies in hot pursuit, the suspects left the weapons they had stolen from their guards in the couple’s wrecked car, and ran through trees to Hale’s property.

Miller said the homeowner held them at gunpoint until deputies arrived. But Hale said he wanted to set the record straight: “I had a weapon on me, but I never had to draw the weapon as has been in the news.”

Hale took a picture of the escapees once they were surrounded by law enforcement officers. It shows them spread-eagled and shirtless, face-down on the concrete.

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