Sec­ond es­caped killer in cus­tody

Res­i­dents of up­state New York re­lieved af­ter sec­ond in­mate is shot and ar­rested near the Cana­dian bor­der.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Matt Pearce and Vera Haller matt. pearce@ latimes. com Times staff writer Pearce re­ported from Los An­ge­les and spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Haller from New York.

David Sweat was shot and cap­tured near the Cana­dian bor­der in New York.

NEW YORK — For most Amer­i­cans, the great es­cape from the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in up­state New York un­folded like a pulpy, if not quite be­liev­able, crime novel.

How did Richard Matt and David Sweat get power tools in a max­i­mum- se­cu­rity prison? How could the two con­victed mur­der­ers cut their way out with­out of­fi­cials notic­ing?

But the bizarre and sus­pense­ful story gave lit­tle plea­sure for New York­ers up­state. Many spent their nights awake, with their doors locked and guns loaded, as Matt, 48, and Sweat, 35, roamed free.

The 22- day odyssey ended Sun­day when a lone New York State Po­lice sergeant shot and ar­rested Sweat in a f ield a mile and a half from the Cana­dian bor­der, two days af­ter author­i­ties killed Matt nearby, of­fi­cials said.

Sweat was jog­ging along a road near the aptly named ham­let of Con­sta­ble about 3: 20 p. m. when Sgt. Jay Cook, a 21- year vet­eran, spot­ted him while on pa­trol, of­fi­cials said.

When Cook tried to stop him, Sweat, who was un­armed, made a break for a tree line, and Cook shot him twice in the torso, of­fi­cials said. The hunt was over. When news of Sweat’s cap­ture reached Hosler’s Fam­ily Res­tau­rant in the nearby town of Malone, cheers broke out among the staff and cus­tomers.

“We were all just yelling like we were on an adren­a­line high,” Lynn Hosler, the owner, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “It’s been a tough three weeks for us.”

In Con­sta­ble, the Rev. Howard Venette of St. Fran­cis of As­sisi Church said he men­tioned the man­hunt at Sun­day morn­ing Mass, just hours be­fore Sweat was cap­tured. “To­day’s gospel had Je­sus say­ing, ‘ Be not afraid. Just have faith,’ ” he said. “I re­lated that to com­ing to the church ev­ery day and won­der­ing if I’m go­ing to be sur­prised by the es­capees.”

Thou­sands of law en­force­ment of­fi­cials took part in the search for Matt and Sweat, who were dis­cov­ered miss­ing June 6 and who ul­ti­mately trav­eled about 40 miles from the prison in Dan­nemora. On Sun­day night, Sweat was listed in crit­i­cal con­di­tion at Albany Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo said Sun­day that no one had es­caped from the for­mi­da­ble walls of the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in 100 years.

The du­ra­tion of the pair’s es­cape was al­most as un­usual. Of the 29 in­mates who es­caped from New York state pris­ons be­tween 2002 and 2012, none lasted longer than three days be­fore be­ing re­cap­tured. Al­most all were caught within 24 hours, and al­most none of them had records as deadly as Matt’s and Sweat’s.

Sweat was serv­ing a sen­tence of life with­out pa­role for killing a sher­iff ’ s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serv­ing 25 years to life for killing and dis­mem­ber­ing his for­mer boss.

“The night­mare is fi­nally over,” Cuomo said at a tele­vised news con­fer­ence in Malone. He added: “Ev­ery­one goes home safe. The es­capees have been dealt with; we couldn’t have a bet­ter end­ing. We wish it hadn’t hap­pened in the first place.”

Of­fi­cials are ea­ger to ques­tion Sweat to learn ex­actly how he and Matt es­caped, where they went, and where they were go­ing.

“I can only as­sume he was go­ing for the bor­der,” New York State Po­lice Supt. Joseph D’Amico said of Sweat at the news con­fer­ence. “He was that close.”

Matt was near Malone when he was killed Fri­day. Of­fi­cials said he had a 20- gauge shot­gun and re­fused to drop it. He was shot three times in the head, ac­cord­ing to au­topsy re­sults re­leased Sun­day.

Matt’s body was cov­ered with bug bites, blis­ters and scratches “con­sis­tent with liv­ing in the woods for three weeks,” ac­cord­ing to a New York State Po­lice an­nounce­ment.

When Sweat was cap­tured, he was wear­ing a dark coat, cam­ouf lage pants and a shirt smeared with blood, ac­cord­ing to a photo ob­tained by CNN.

Although Sweat was un­armed, D’Amico and Cuomo praised Cook’s de­ci­sion to open f ire as Sweat f led. Cuomo said of Cook: “He was alone and it was a very coura­geous act.… Go home tonight and tell your daugh­ters you’re a hero.”

D’Amico said Matt and Sweat were be­lieved to have used pep­per to throw off their scent, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for po­lice dogs to track them.

At var­i­ous points, of­fi­cials warned that the killers might be headed for Ver­mont, Penn­syl­va­nia, Canada or Mexico.

It seems the pair may have never left up­state New York, where jit­tery res­i­dents were only par­tially com­forted by the hordes of law en­force­ment block­ing roads and scour­ing forests.

“I feel a lot bet­ter now,” said Michael French, man­ager of the Four Sea­sons Mo­tel in Malone. “I didn’t want to let my two young boys go out­side. I was wor­ried whether or not those guys were around.”

French said he felt ex­hausted. His mo­tel has been f illed with fed­eral agents and jour­nal­ists, and his park­ing lot was where buses and vans dropped off and picked up of­fi­cers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the search.

“I would re­ally love to get some sleep,” French said.

Two prison em­ploy­ees have been ar­rested since Matt and Sweat’s es­cape. Joyce Mitchell, a prison tai­lor shop in­struc­tor, has been charged with smug­gling hack­saw blades and other tools to the in­mates in frozen ham­burger meat.

Gene Palmer, a guard, has been ac­cused of pro­mot­ing con­tra­band by de­liv­er­ing the meat to the pris­on­ers and has also been charged with ev­i­dence tam­per­ing. Both have pleaded not guilty. Cuomo vowed that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the es­cape and prison prac­tices would con­tinue. He also summed up the events that had trans­fixed the state for three weeks:

“If you were writ­ing a movie plot, you would say this was over­done.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

PO­LICE stand over David Sweat af­ter his cap­ture. He and Richard Matt es­caped from the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in up­state New York three weeks ago. Matt was shot and killed Fri­day.

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