Sergeant Jay Cook Was Alone When He Found and Shot David Sweat

DavidSweatWEB
Police stand over David Sweat after he was shot and captured near the Canadian border on June 28. AP

The weeks-long, massive manhunt for two escaped New York inmates officially ended Sunday afternoon when police took the remaining prisoner, David Sweat, into custody near the Canadian border. His accomplice, Richard Matt, was shot and killed by authorities in the woods on Friday, 48 hours before his capture.

Sergeant Jay Cook was driving alone on a road in Constable, New York, on Sunday when he spotted a man apparently jogging along the street, about 40 miles northeast of Dannemora, New York, where the prisoners escaped. When Cook exited his vehicle and approached him, the man refused to answer and started to flee.

"He recognized him to be David Sweat, and at that time, Sweat turned and fled on foot with the sergeant in pursuit," New York Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico told reporters during a press conference on Sunday. "At some point running across the field, he realized that Sweat was going to make it to a tree line and possibly could have disappeared. He fired two shots from his service weapon, his handgun."

About 1,300 authorities spent more than three weeks searching for Matt and Sweat, who went missing from their adjoining cells at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on the morning of June 6. Their so-called Hollywood-style break started with them cutting a hole in their cells, escaping on a catwalk, crawling through pipes and emerging onto the street through a manhole cover. Officials followed more than 2,400 leads before their eventual capture over the weekend.

Cook, a 21-year veteran of the force and father of two teenagers, was on patrol supervising the perimeter posts that had been set up in the area. Once he discovered that the man jogging appeared to be Sweat, he shot him twice in the torso. Sweat was not armed at the time, D'Amico said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has deemed Cook a "hero." He encouraged Cook to return home Sunday to his 16- and 17-year-old daughters. "Tell your daughters that you're a hero. With teenage girls, that will probably last a good 24 hours and then you'll just go back to being a regular dad, as I well know."

Local emergency services responded to the scene, and treated Sweat before sending him to a nearby hospital, D'Amico said. Sweat on Monday remained in serious but stable condition; his injuries don't require surgery. He is expected to stay at the Albany Medical Center for a few days until his condition stabilizes.

Prior to Sweat's capture, police found a camp on Route 41 in Malone, New York, where they obtained DNA from discarded material they then traced to Sweat. The items included picnic-style pepper shakers, which authorities believe the two men were using to throw off the scent for the canines tracking them, D'Amico said.

During the weeks-long search, Matt and Sweat were placed on the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted fugitives list. Both were convicted murderers. Matt, now 49, previously murdered at least two individuals, including his boss. Sweat, now 35, was imprisoned for killing a sheriff's deputy, in what Cuomo over the weekend called "a savage way."

The governor said officials will continue to investigate how the prisoners escaped. Two jail workers, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, separately have been charged for allegedly aiding them.