The convicted murderer who escaped from a jail in Pennsylvania nearly two weeks ago and has continued to evade capture is now armed and considered extremely dangerous.
He stole a rifle from the garage of a local homeowner, who fired several shots at the fugitive as he fled, police said Tuesday.
Danelo Cavalcante, 34, was spotted on Monday night in Chester County’s South Coventry Township, about 20 miles north of the prison, according to an emergency alert.
At about 10:10 p.m., police received a call from a resident who said a shirtless male entered his garage and grabbed a rifle in the corner, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said in a news conference. The homeowner fired his pistol at Cavalcante as he fled, but there is “no reason to believe” the fugitive was injured, Bivens said.
A green sweatshirt and white tee shirt were found near the homeowner’s driveway, he said.
“I think he is just trying to survive and avoid being captured right now,” he said.
Bivens later told CNN the fugitive ran into the garage while the homeowner was sitting right there. He said the gun had not been left unsecured so he did not believe the homeowner was being irresponsible.
The shooting and gun theft represent a stark escalation in the dangerous manhunt after Cavalcante escaped the county jail on August 31.
About 500 law enforcement officers – including the Pennsylvania State Police, FBI, ATF, and the US Marshals – are searching the area around the shooting, and police have set up a perimeter stretching several miles in each direction. Video from WPVI shows a massive police response in the South Coventry Township overnight, with dozens of patrol cars and an armored vehicle converging on the scene.
“It’s a large area, wooded, hilly terrain. It’s not something that it’s a matter of sending a few people in and searching,” Bivens said.
The .22-caliber rifle Cavalcante has in his possession has a scope and flashlight, Bivens said.
“We consider him desperate, we consider him dangerous,” he said. “I would suspect that he’s desperate enough to use that weapon.”
Police sent several reverse 911 calls to people within three miles warning them of the danger. An emergency alert sent Monday night to area residents asked them “to lock all external doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors.”
The Owen J. Roberts School District in Chester County announced it would be closed Tuesday, and several other school districts announced all classes would be indoors.
Finally, Bivens defended law enforcement’s actions during the extensive search, saying they were trying to find a needle in a haystack.
“Nothing has gone wrong,” he said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said authorities were “working our tails off” to capture Cavalcante.
“We’ve got the best working on it, starting with the Pennsylvania State Police, which I have the utmost confidence in,” he said.