New York prison escapee David Sweat shot and in custody after long manhunt

Powered by article titled “New York prison escapee David Sweat shot and in custody after long manhunt” was written by Martin Pengelly and Ed Pilkington in New York, for on Monday 29th June 2015 04.35 UTC

David Sweat, one of two inmates who escaped from a high-security jail more than three weeks ago, has been shot and captured in upstate New York. No officers or civilians were hurt in his capture.

The news came 48 hours after the other inmate, 49-year-old Richard Matt, was shot dead by a Border Patrol agent in the same woodlands.

In a Sunday evening press conference, New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said: “The nightmare is finally over. After 22 days we can confirm that Mr Matt is deceased and the other escapee Mr Sweat is in custody.”

Cuomo went on to confirm details of Sweat’s capture, which New York state police had earlier outlined in a press statement saying: “At approximately 3.20pm … Sergeant Jay Cook of the New York state police spotted a suspicious man walking down a roadway in the town of Constable.

“Sergeant Cook shot and injured Clinton Correctional Facility escapee David Sweat. Sweat was taken into police custody alive, then taken to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.”

At the evening press conference, New York state police superintendent Joseph D’Amico detailed Cook’s confrontation with Sweat, 35, who he said ran away after an initial standoff. Cook was alone at the time.

“At some point in the pursuit Cook realised Sweat was going to make it to a treeline and potentially disappear,” D’Amico said, “so he shot him two times with his handgun.”

Sweat was transported to an Albany hospital, where a spokesman told media a trauma unit was standing by. Dr. Dennis McKenna said Sweat, who was listed in critical condition, was being evaluated by a team of doctors including emergency medical physicians, trauma specialists and others who would determine whether surgery was necessary.

Sweat will be charged with escape, burglary and other counts, said a prosecutor.

Earlier, a picture broadcast on news media showed Sweat on the ground, with two people in attendance. Both were wearing plastic gloves. Sweat’s face was bloodied and he was shown to be wearing camouflage clothing, rather than the green prison jumpsuit he was believed to have been wearing when he escaped.

D’Amico said Sweat had not yet been interviewed by police. He said Sweat was not armed at the time he was apprehended. Matt was in possession of a 20-gauge shotgun when he was killed.

Cuomo also said he had “congratulated Sergeant Cook on his excellent policing”, which he said involved a very courageous act that would make him a hero to his teenage daughters.

Ambulance believed to be transporting David Sweat to hospital in Constable, NY State Police.
An ambulance believed to be transporting David Sweat to hospital. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The news followed official confirmation that Matt was shot three times in the head when he was killed by a Border Patrol agent near Malone, New York, on Friday.

State police released information on the autopsy carried out on Matt. The post-mortem gave the cause of death as injuries caused by gunshot wounds to the head. Physical signs that Matt had spent most of the time since he and Sweat broke out of the Clinton Correction Facility, near Dannemora, living rough in the forests close to Canada were also detected in the autopsy.

A police statement said that the examination of the body by Dr Michael Sikirica “revealed bug bites on the lower extremities, blisters, and minor abrasions consistent with living in the woods for three weeks”.

Local reports on Sunday said Matt may have been drunk when he was shot. Official toxicology results, however, were pending.

The search for Sweat had concentrated in the same area in which Matt was found and killed. Constable, where Sweat was shot, is 30 miles from the prison and two miles from the Canadian border. D’Amico said on Sunday that the two may have used “picnic-style pepper shakers” to cover their scent and throw police bloodhounds off their trail.

Sweat and Matt escaped on 6 June, cutting their way out of their cells and through heating pipes to emerge to freedom through a street manhole cover. Two prison workers have been arrested in connection with their escape.

“This was an extraordinary situation in many ways,” Cuomo said on Sunday. “If you were writing a movie plot they would say this was overdone. You had hacksaws delivered by a facilitator in ground-up meat.”

Cuomo promised an ongoing investigation “to find out exactly who was involved”.

“Now that we have Mr Sweat it gives us the opportunity to ask questions,” Cuomo said. “Anyone we find who was culpable and guilty of cooperating in this escape will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Cuomo said an investigation would also be undertaken into the systems at Clinton Correctional Facility that allowed the convicts to escape.

The hunt for the inmates lasted more than three weeks and involved thousands of officers from multiple local and federal agencies, which Cuomo called an “unprecedented coming together of law enforcement”.

Matt was jailed over the murder and dismemberment of a former boss. Sweat was jailed over the shooting death of a sheriff’s deputy. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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