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New York News

Second Clinton Correctional Fugitive Captured

It was a dramatic end to a three-week manhunt Sunday when a police officer felled the remaining fugitive from the Clinton Correctional facility less than two miles from the Canadian border. As WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, both fugitives are accounted for and no civilians or law enforcement officers were hurt.

“The nightmare is finally over.” Speaking at Titus Mountain Ski Center, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the capture of fugitive David Sweat Sunday afternoon and praised the hundreds of law enforcement officers involved in the search.   "It took 22 days but we can now confirm as of two days ago Mr. Matt is deceased and the other escapee Mr. Sweat is in custody.  Let’s give a big round of applause to the men and women of law enforcement."

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico detailed the encounter between Police Sergeant Jay Cook and Sweat that occurred at about 3:20 Sunday afternoon.  "Sergeant Jay Cook, a 21 year veteran, was on patrol.  He was supervising perimeter posts in our continued ground search. As he was driving down the road he spotted a male who was basically jogging up along the side of the road.  He approached him and as he exited the car the male turned to him and he recognized him to be David Sweat. At that time Sweat turned and fled on foot with the sergeant in pursuit. He realized that Sweat was going to make it to a tree line and possibly disappear. He fired two shots hitting Sweat twice in the torso.  A local EMS team responded and treated Sweat on the scene. This event took place about a mile and a half from the Canadian border. Our concern was that they could have made it to the border. Where Sweat was I can only assume he was going for the border. We couldn’t be happier that we were able to apprehend him and not lose him."

On Friday, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Tactical team killed the other escapee, Richard Matt.  The preliminary autopsy shows the convict was struck in the head three times.

Investigation of the Matt shooting found DNA evidence of Sweat’s presence.  Superintendent D’Amico says it also indicates the fugitives were trying to throw off tracking dogs.  "It was picnic style pepper shakers.  We believe that possibly these two males were using pepper to throw the scent off for the dogs who were tracking them.  We did have difficulty tracking so it was fairly effective in that respect."

Sweat was not armed at the time of his apprehension.  D’Amico says there were no orders to shoot the subject if he did not surrender.  "Our intention was to bring them in without having to use force.  Sometimes, as in the case of Matt where he was armed and he presented a threat, sometimes force is necessary.  In the case of Sweat, if Sweat made the tree line and would’ve been gone who knows what kind of damage.  I’m just thankful three weeks no innocent civilians and no innocent law enforcement were hurt."

There is a sense of relief among the general public and law enforcement now that the second fugitive has been captured.  Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill was in the forward operating base when word came in.  "When we heard the radio call that there had been shots fired and that he was down you could feel the sense of relief that went through the entire law enforcement community that was located there. It was good. A lot of hand shaking and slaps on the back and just a sigh of relief."  

The end of the manhunt does not stop inquiries into their escape.  Governor Cuomo says the investigation will continue to determine if anyone else was involved.  "We have two people who have been arrested.  But the investigation is not over. Now that we have Mr. Sweat it gives us the opportunity to have some more questions and provide more facts on the overall situation.  Anyone who we find who was culpable and guilty of cooperating in this escape will be fully prosecuted."

Sweat was first taken to the local hospital in Malone for initial treatment.  He was then transported to the  Albany Medical Center.  Governor Cuomo told CNN Monday morning that Sweat had a bag containing maps, tools, bug repellent and Pop Tarts when he was apprehended.

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