The three-week manhunt that began when two convicted murderers staged a prison break involving stolen power tools and hacksaw blades hidden in frozen hamburger meat ended Sunday when a single state police sergeant spotted the final prisoner, David Sweat walking near the Canadian border.
David Sweat’s capture came two days after his fellow escapee, Richard Matt, was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement while holding a shotgun. Sweat was unarmed when he was shot twice by 21- year veteran Sgt. Jay Cook as the fugitive ran for a tree line.
Sgt Cook was on a routine patrol when he stumbled upon Sweat in the northern New York town of Constable, about 30 miles northwest of the prison, and recognized him. According to state police, Sweat fled and after chasing him Cook decided to fire upon him fearing he would lose him in the trees.
Authorities said Sweat was struck in the torso and taken to a hospital in Malone before being transported to Albany Medical Center.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat will be charged with escape, burglary and other charges since he and Matt are suspected of breaking into some of the region’s many cabins during their time on the run. Wylie said prosecutors would wait for Sweat to recover before charging him.
On June 24, authorities charged Clinton correction officer Gene Palmer with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. Officials said he gave the two prisoners the frozen hamburger meat Mitchell had used to hide the tools she smuggled to Sweat and Matt. Palmer’s attorney said he had no knowledge that the meat contained hacksaw blades, a bit and a screwdriver. Palmer is due in court Monday.
It’s suspected that the men may have used black pepper to throw off the scent of dogs that were tracking them due to the fact that Sweat’s DNA was recovered from pepper shakers found at one camp where the fugitives may have spent time.
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 the murder and dismemberment of his former boss.
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