Sgt. Curtis Billue, one of the correctional officers allegedly killed by escaping inmates on a prison transport bus on June 13, was the brother of Coweta County resident Shelbra Mayes.
Mayes is a retired teacher, who taught at Evans Middle School. Efforts to reach her for comment have not been successful. Her husband, Sydney Mayes, is a local minister.
Billue and Sgt. Christopher Monica were guarding prisoners on a transport bus when inmates Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose somehow escaped their restraints and allegedly overpowered the two men, killing them with their own pistols.
Rowe and Dubose then fled in a vehicle they allegedly carjacked. A statewide manhunt ensued and the two men were apprehended in Tennessee after allegedly holding an elderly couple hostage, then leading officers on a high speed chase. The men then fled on foot and were held at bay by an armed homeowner until they were taken into custody.
Funeral services for Billue were held Saturday at Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, where Billue had graduated high school. He was from McIntyre, a small town in Wilkinson County, east of Macon.
Hundreds of mourners attended the service. According to Associated Press, law enforcement officers from around the state joined relatives and friends for the funeral.
Billue, 58, attended the Fort Valley State University and later graduated from Clark University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice/sociology. According to his obituary on the website of Slater’s Funeral Home in Milledgeville, Billue was in the band and played football.
He entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and attained the rank of major during his 11 years in the military. His military assignments included Fort Hood, Texas and a posting in Korea.
In July 2007, he began his career with the Georgia Department of Corrections. He served at two other facilities before going to the Baldwin County State Prison Milledgeville in October 2011, transferring to the transportation unit in March 2013.
Billue’s casket was draped with an American flag, and he was remembered for his military service and as a devoted father to his sons, Curtis Billue Jr. and Michael Billue.
"We know he served in many roles, but hero comes to mind. Curtis Billue gave his whole life to protecting and serving others," Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said, according to The Telegraph newspaper of Macon.
Bruce Billue said his brother never hesitated to help someone in need.
"Curtis' heart was engraved with service. He took all these position and tried to excel and make life better for others," Bruce Billue said. "We will miss you, love you beyond words."
By giving his own life, Curtis Billue may have saved other officers, said Harold Banks, pastor of Mt. Tilla Baptist Church in Covington. He said the sergeant would want his loved ones to forgive the men who committed these "atrocious acts."
In addition to Mayes and his sons, Billue is survived by his father, Revon Billue, and six other siblings. Monica’s funeral is set for Tuesday in Milledgeville.
(Associated Press contributed to this story.)