The second of two convicted murderers who staged a brazen escape three weeks ago from a maximum-security prison in northern New York was shot and captured near the Canadian border on Sunday, two days after his fellow inmate was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement officers, a sheriff said.
“The nightmare is finally over,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared at a news conference.
A state police sergeant shot David Sweat in the town of Constable, about 2 miles south of the Canadian border and 30 miles northwest of the prison, after spotting him walking along a road and recognizing him, Cuomo said. Sweat fled and Sgt. Jay Cook opened fire when he couldn’t catch him on foot and noticed the fugitive heading toward a line of trees, authorities said.
Sweat was struck twice in the torso and taken to a hospital in stable condition, Cuomo said.
Authorities say the inmate who was shot and captured after three weeks on the run was not armed when he was taken into custody.
State police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said the men may have used pepper to mask their trail; he said Sweat’s DNA was recovered from pepper shakers found at one camp where the fugitives may have spent time.
“We did have difficulty tracking so, you know, it was fairly effective in that respect,” D’Amico said.
Cuomo said many questions remained unanswered.
“We have already started a full investigation,” he said. “But today ends with good news. These were dangerous, dangerous men.”
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat will be charged with escape, burglary and other counts and any information he provides could be critical to the ongoing investigation.
Fellow inmate Richard Matt was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement officers Friday afternoon.
Matt and Sweat used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, bashed a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall, squirmed through pipes and emerged from a manhole outside the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6.
Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss. They were added to the U.S. Marshals Service’s 15 Most Wanted fugitives list two weeks after getting away.
The search for the escaped killers was initially concentrated around the prison and a rural community where search dogs had caught the scent of both men. The search had since been expanded to neighboring counties, and, while authorities said there was no evidence the men had gotten out of the general area, they conceded they could have been almost anywhere.
“It’s a little unnerving, him being so close,” said Constable resident Trevor Buchanan. “I’m just glad it’s over.”
The manhunt broke open Friday afternoon when a person towing a camper heard a loud noise and thought a tire had blown. Finding there was no flat, the driver drove eight miles before looking again and finding a bullet hole in the trailer. A tactical team responding to the scene of the shot smelled gunpowder inside a cabin and saw evidence that someone had fled out the back door.
A noise — perhaps a cough — ultimately did Matt in. A border patrol team discovered Matt, who was shot after failing to heed a command to raise his hands. He was shot three times in the head, according to an autopsy.
A coroner who attended the autopsy said Matt was clean, well-fed and dressed for the elements at the time he was killed.
A pair of prison workers has been charged in connection with the inmates’ escape.
The Associated Press
Posted but not written by Louis Sheehan