CONSTABLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – A hunt which has cost taxpayers of New York State millions ended Sunday after police searching for second escaped murderer David Sweat detained him by shooting him near Constable.
More than 1,200 officers on the scene of a New York manhunt completed their goal after 22-days of searching. Sheriffs from two counties confirmed a confrontation and the detainment of Sweat — a 35-year-old convicted murderer serving a life sentence — in Franklin County on Sunday afternoon at about 3:20 p.m.
Police say New York State Police Sergeant Jay Cook — a tech sergeant who acted alone — spotted the man walking down a road in the Town of Constable. Cook pulled up next to the man and left his vehicle to confront him. New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said Sweat wouldn’t reply to Cook and fled into a field rather than comply.
“Today was routine patrol by the sergeant who spotted him by the side of the road. Some good heads up police work by the sergeant, very alert,” D’Amico said. “He did a very courageous and brave act of police work. We’ve commended him. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
In a press conference which started just after 7 p.m., police stood by the Trooper who fired on Sweat, saying he had little other recourse despite the fact that Sweat had no weapon.
“If Sweat made the treeline, and would have been gone, who knows what kind of damage,” D’Amico said. “I’m just thankful. Three weeks, no innocent civilians, no innocent law enforcement were hurt.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo also noted his level of pride for the officer, who is a 21-year-veteran of the New York State Police force in Troop B.
“I had a chance to speak with Sgt. Cook and congratulate him on his great police work,” Cuomo said of Cook, who has two daughters. “You go home tonight and tell your daughters you’re a hero.”
Cook shot Sweat twice in the torso with his handgun as he fled in the field. Police say after bringing him down, attention shifted to saving Sweat’s life. After transporting him by ambulance to a local hospital, first responders prepared to airlift him to the Albany Medical Center. Officials say due to weather, an ambulance prepared to drive the man, who is in stable condition, to the new hospital.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said police have always maintained they wanted to capture both killers alive.
“You never want to see anyone lose their life,” Cuomo said, but warned of Sweat’s danger. “Mr. Sweat was involved in the killing of a Sheriff’s Deputy,” Cuomo said. “Mr. Sweat and his accomplices hit the Sheriff’s Deputy with a car, got out and shot him 22 times and ran over him.”
The shots, which did not kill Sweat, are in stark contrast to the death of fellow Clinton Correctional Facility escapee Richard Matt. Police shot Matt three times in the head, but defended the decision to do so because he wielded a 20-gauge shotgun.
“Our intention as law enforcement was to bring him in without having to use force,” D’Amico said. “In the case of Matt, where he was armed — he presented a threat. Sometimes force is necessary.”
Police swarmed the area around Malone following Matt’s death in greater number than ever before. D’Amico said once they realized where the escaped murderers set their sights on, they started searching from the Canadian border and moved south from there.
D’Amico said in the goal of capturing Sweat, they prepared for all options, including a dash to Canada.
Sweat proved Sunday he wanted to make that dash. The field where Cook shot Sweat stands just under two miles from Canadian border. The center of the Town of Constable is just over five miles from the border. Police say Sweat persevered on for roughly nine miles following Matt’s death.
Each person escaped their shared cell from the Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, and police say their investigation of that escape isn’t over yet.
“I want to thank our partners in law enforcement who have done an extraordinary job. Our local partners, our federal partners, who have been away from their homes and their families to come here and help us,” Cuomo said.
Officials said New York State spent roughly $1 million each day on the hunt, meaning the hunt cost taxpayers roughly $22 million to end the manhunt.
“There’s no doubt that it is expensive,” Cuomo said. “But there’s no doubt that it is worth it.”