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Manhunt Over: N.Y. Authorities Capture Remaining Inmate


A manhunt in upstate New York is now over. Police captured David Sweat yesterday. He's one of two convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum security prison in Dannemora, N.Y. The other fugitive was shot and killed by police last week. Sweat was taken alive near the Canadian border in upstate New York. North Country Public Radio's Zach Hirsch reports.

ZACH HIRSCH, BYLINE: After more than three weeks of methodically scouring dense and swampy forests, police caught the escaped prisoner out in the open. A state trooper spotted him jogging alongside the road in broad daylight.


SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH D'AMICO: He says, hey, come over here. The male kind of ignored him. He called out to him again, at which time the male turned around kind of like, what do you want from me? And he recognized him to be David Sweat.

HIRSCH: That's Joseph D'Amico, superintendent of the New York State Police. He said Sweat was unarmed. The fugitive tried to run across a field into the woods. That's when the state trooper shot him.


D'AMICO: And he fired two shots from his service weapon, his handgun, hitting Sweat twice in the torso.

HIRSCH: Investigators felt they were closing-in on him because they found traces of his DNA on items he left behind. One of the items was a pepper shaker.


D'AMICO: And we believe that possibly these two males were using pepper to throw the scent off for the dogs who were tracking them. And we did have difficulty tracking, so it was fairly effective in that respect.

HIRSCH: D'Amico was speaking at a press conference in a ski lodge, and the relief of area residents was palpable. Those who came to watch interrupted with cheers four different times. Just outside, Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill seemed ecstatic. After officers shot and killed the other escaped inmate, Richard Matt, he said you could almost feel the net closing.

SHERIFF KEVIN MULVERHILL: There was just a tempo, just things picked up. In the command center and throughout, you know, the whole law enforcement community, you could just feel things were shifting our way.

HIRSCH: Right next to the hospital were Sweat was taken in the village of Malone, N.Y., just south of the Canadian border, Jay Perras and some of his friends were celebrating on his front porch.

JAY PERRAS: I think we've all decided to crack a beer and sit back and watch everybody come by.

HIRSCH: He said the manhunt has rattled his neighborhood. Perras knows people who slept with their guns next to the bed.

PERRAS: It's been definitely a sigh of relief for it. We're glad it's over.

HIRSCH: Officials are still trying to figure out how the two inmates were able to slip out of Clinton Correctional Facility, which is widely considered to be the most secure prison in New York State. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the escape an extraordinary situation.


GOV ANDREW CUOMO: And if you were writing a movie plot, they would say that this was overdone.

HIRSCH: Investigators hope that with Sweat captured alive, more answers are coming soon. But last night, a local district attorney pointed out that Sweat can choose not to talk, and when his wounds heal, he'll go back to serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. For NPR News, I'm Zach Hirsch in Malone, N.Y. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Zach Hirsch
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