(NEW YORK) — A veteran New York State Police sergeant was alone and on a routine patrol when he shot and captured convicted murderer David Sweat Sunday afternoon.
At about 3:20 p.m., State Police Sgt. Jay Cook was supervising a perimeter post when he spotted Sweat on a road near Route 30 in the area of Constable, New York, approximately 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border. Authorities believe Sweat was trying to make a final break toward the border, officials said.
Cook ordered him to stop, but Sweat then turned and fled across a field, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said.
When Cook, who is also a firearms instructor, realized Sweat might get away, he fired two shots.
“He realized Sweat was going to make it to a tree line, and possibly could have disappeared — and he fired two shots from his service weapon,” D’Amico told reporters.
Cook “was alone when this happened,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Sgt. Cook happened to be from Troop B, which is this area, so he knew the area very well. But he was still alone and it was a very courageous act.”
Cook is a 21-year veteran who has spent most of his career in the area, said D’Amico, who added, “I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Cook has two teenage daughters, ages 16 and 17, Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday.
“I said to Sgt. Cook … to go home tonight and tell your daughters that you’re a hero,” Cuomo told reporters. “With teenage girls, that will probably last a good 24 hours and then you go back to being a regular dad, as I well know.”
Officials said Sweat was shot twice in the torso and was hospitalized in critical condition. Sweat, who had been serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy, was not armed, D’Amico said.
Sweat received medical treatment from emergency personnel and was seen being transported to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, New York, then taken to Albany Medical Center, officials said.
No law enforcement personnel were injured during the capture, an official briefed on the manhunt said.
On June 6, Sweat and another prisoner, Richard Matt, escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, police said. More than 1,000 law enforcement officers were involved in the search.
Matt, also a convicted murderer, was shot and killed by authorities Friday in Elephant’s Head, New York, about 16 miles south of where Sweat was apprehended Sunday, according to police.
An investigation is ongoing to find out who was involved in the escape, Cuomo said on Sunday, adding that there is also an investigation into the systems at the prison. Two prison employees, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, have been charged in connection with the escape.
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