Governor Cuomo: "The nightmare is finally over … everyone goes home safe."
This evening, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the end to the search for two inmates who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY on June 6. David Sweat is now in police custody and Richard Matt is deceased.
David Sweat, in custody: Today at approximately 3:20 p.m., Sergeant Jay Cook of the New York State Police spotted a suspicious man walking down a roadway in the Town of Constable. Sergeant Cook pursued, shot and injured David Sweat. Sweat was taken into police custody alive, and is currently in stable condition. He will receive treatment at Albany Medical Center.
Richard Matt, deceased: On Friday at approximately 3:45 p.m., a member of law enforcement spotted, shot and killed Richard Matt following Matt's failure to respond to law enforcement commands. Matt had a shot gun in his possession. Autopsy results for Matt are available here; toxicology results are pending.
The Governor thanked law enforcement officials for their tireless efforts over the last several weeks. When the search concluded today, there were approximately 1,300 federal, state and local law enforcement members involved. Agencies active in the search included: Forest Rangers and Conservation Officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, officers from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Plattsburgh Police, Vermont State Police, the Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Washington County Sheriff’s Departments, and the Clinton and Franklin County District Attorney's offices.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is included below:
We are here with good news, as I'm sure you've heard already. The nightmare is finally over. It took 22 days but we can now confirm as of two days ago, as you know, Mr. Matt is deceased and the other escapee, Mr. Sweat, is in custody. He is in stable condition. Let's give a big round of applause to the men and women of law enforcement.
It has been a long, long time but as you've heard, and the Superintendent will go into further detail, Mr. Sweat was spotted by a New York State Police sergeant. Sergeant Jay Cook. He was approached this afternoon. The Sergeant recognized Mr. Sweat obviously from his description. He encountered and engaged Mr. Sweat. Mr. Sweat fled. The Trooper gave chase. The Trooper was unable to catch him on foot. At one point, the Sergeant decided to discharge his weapon, hitting Mr. Sweat twice in the torso. Mr. Sweat went down; help arrived. Mr. Sweat is now in a hospital in stable condition. This happened a mile and a half from the Canadian border in the Town of Constable. I had a chance to speak with Sergeant Cook and congratulate him on his great police work. He was alone when this happened. Sergeant Cook happens to be from Troop B, which is this area, so he knew the area well. But he was still alone and it was a very courageous act. I said to Sergeant Cook, who has two daughters – 16 and 17 – to go home tonight and tell your daughters that you're a hero. 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.
This was an extraordinary situation in many ways. The prison in Dannemora is over 100 years old. This is the first escape in 100 years. If you were writing a movie plot, they would say that this was overdone. You had hacksaws delivered by a facilitator in ground-up meat. You had two prisoners who were on the honor block. They hack-sawed through the back of their cell. They got into the catwalks. The catwalks brought them into a labyrinth of tunnels where they came across a contractor's job box, large tool box. One of the prisoners was a burglar, knew how to pick the lock, picked the lock repeatedly. They used those tools then to do the work of breaking the wall, cutting the pipe, cutting the chains and making way to the sewer pipe. It was an extraordinary circumstance and the first escape in over 100 years – but one escape is one escape too many. We will have the ongoing investigation to find out exactly who was involved. We have two people who have been arrested for facilitation who were accomplices in this situation, but the investigation is not over.
Now that we have Mr. Sweat, it gives us the opportunity to ask some more questions and provide more facts on the overall situation anyone who we find who was culpable and guilty of cooperating in this escape will be fully prosecuted. The DA’s have done a great job, of both Franklin and Clinton counties, but we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. If anyone else was involved, we will find that. We will also be conducting an investigation into the systems in that prison and how could this happen and how did they have access to the cat walk etcetera, so there are a lot of questions to be answered and we have already started a full investigation that is being headed by the inspector generals of the State of New York.
But today ends with good news. These were really dangerous, dangerous men, both Matt and Sweat. They were killers. Mr. Matt killed at least two people; Mr. Sweat killed a sheriff's deputy in Broome County in a savage, savage way. So these were dangerous people. We could not tolerate them being on the loose.
The terrain here was very difficult. This prison happens to be located in a heavily forested area, so this was an extraordinarily difficult row to hoe so to speak. This was an unprecedented coming together of law enforcement on every level. We had local law enforcement; we had federal law enforcement, state assets – all working together, hand in glove with gears meshing.
I would just want to thank the Department of Corrections SORT team, headed by Colonel Bradford, the New York State En-Con Police, headed by Captain Chafia, the Forest Rangers, the FBI – which did an outstanding job. I spoke on the phone to Agent Vale and Agent Tim Dunham who is with us today and I want to thank them. The U.S. Marshals, the Clinton County Sheriff's Office, the Clinton County DA, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Franklin County District Attorney's office, Plattsburgh Police, Vermont State Police, Governor Peter Shumlin who was extraordinarily cooperative –visited the prison, brought Vermont assets to work hand in glove with New York. The DHSES, Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection – which did an outstanding job in apprehending Mr. Matt two days ago – Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal assets. We want to thank them all very much.
And last but not least, I want to thank the people of the State of New York, who were, as usual, stepped up to the challenge. People in Franklin County, Clinton County – they had all sorts of leads, they were on the lookout. Law enforcement did not end here. Every citizen did their job and they did it bravely, and they did it courageously, and they dealt with the increased police presence and the fear, frankly, of having to go three weeks knowing that there were murderers loose in your backyards.
But New Yorkers are tough and they stepped right up. They stepped up to the challenge, they provided help and they stood with us every step of the way. I want to thank the people in Franklin and Clinton County personally for their courage and every law enforcement officer – literally thousands of law enforcement officers were engaged in this. And it is nice when it ends well. We said that we were going to have a celebration at the appropriate time, but that everyone goes home safe and the escapees have been dealt with. You could not have a better ending. We wish it did not happen in the first place, but if you have to have it happen, this is the way you want it to end.
Another round of applause for the men and women of law enforcement. And now I turn you over to Superintendent Joseph D’Amico who runs the New York State Police.
VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks in Malone, NY is available in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here.