Richard W. Matt, one of the two convicted murderers who engineered an elaborate escape from New York’s largest prison, was shot and killed on Friday by a federal agent, the authorities said, ending one prong of a three-week manhunt that spread over large stretches of the state’s northern terrain.
Officers are still pursuing fugitive David Sweat but Cuomo said there was nothing to confirm his location as of Friday night. Still, “several leads” were being pursued on his whereabouts, the governor said.
The search involving about 1,100 officers has transformed life in sleepy hamlets and towns shadowed by the Adirondack Mountains.
For three tense weeks, residents have coped with incessant rumors, constant roadblocks, the buzz of helicopters, state troopers in the schools and homes under lockdown as authorities have pursued more than 2,000 tips into the escapees’ whereabouts.
Law enforcement finally closed in on Matt around 1:30 p.m. when police received a call of shots fired near Route 30 in the vicinity of Malone, New York, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the matter. About 20 minutes later, more gunshots were heard.
The driver of a recreational vehicle called 911 when he heard the initial shots. He kept driving and called 911 a second time when he realized his camper was hit, the officials said.
Investigators traced the site of the initial gunshots to about eight miles back from where the driver stopped and discovered the bullet hole in the back of his camper. Officers came upon a cabin where they smelled gunpowder, as if a weapon recently had been fired, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said.
Investigators said Mitchell smuggled hacksaw blades and drill bits into frozen hamburger meat, which she stored in a tailor shop refrigerator. Fellow corrections employee Gene Palmer, who along with a third worker was placed on administrative leave, then delivered the contraband to Matt’s and Sweat’s cells.
The cons lived on the prison’s honor block, which permitted TVs, refrigerators and hotplates in cells, along with other perks not enjoyed by the general population. The special privileges likely played a part in their escape. (Since the breakout, officials shut down Clinton Correctional’s honor block, the Albany Times Union reported.)
Matt and Sweat, 35, are both convicted murderers.
Matt was accused of killing a man after a dispute over money, snapping his victim’s neck and then dismembering the body.
Sweat is serving a life sentence for the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in 2002.
Sweat and another man robbed a gun store and fatally shot the deputy after he confronted them.
In recounting the crimes committed by Mr. Matt and Mr. Sweat, Mr. Cuomo noted the continuing law enforcement effort by an array of agencies to catch the remaining escapee.