CHESTER COUNTY, Penn. (NewsNation) — Authorities believe escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante is within a search perimeter in a rural stretch of northern Pennsylvania after he stole a rifle from a garage and fled a homeowner’s gunfire.
More than 500 law enforcement personnel, including drones, helicopters and search dogs are focusing on the new search area in northern Chester County, about 25 miles away from the prison he escaped 13 days ago. More were called in as schools closed and officers shut down roads, manned checkpoints and stopped vehicles to question motorists and open trunks.
Heavily armed police descended on the South Coventry Township area, closing roads and telling residents to lock their doors. In the evening, Pennsylvania State Police said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Cavalcante was believed to be in the area of Routes 23 and 100, Fairview and Nantmeal Roads and Iron Bridge and County Park Roads.
Helicopters hovered overhead throughout the day Tuesday as officers brought in horses, search dogs and armored personnel carriers and began searching an 8- to 10-square-mile area of rolling farm country, forests and parkland northwest of Philadelphia.
Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown, the school district closest to the search, announced schools would remain closed Wednesday.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens vowed to “hunt until we find” Cavalcante, but also cautioned that it will take a “long time” to methodically search the entire area.
Calvacante’s mother had a message for her son on Tuesday, telling The New York Times her son should face consequences for his crimes, but life in prison or death at the hands of the police was unjust.
“His training was his suffering,” Iracema Cavalcante said in her first interview since her son escaped. “It was going to sleep hungry, it was waking up as I wondered what to feed them.”
She added: “I know what my son did was wrong. I know my son should pay for his mistake. But I want my son to pay for his mistake with dignity. Not to pay with his life.”
Cavalcante entered an open garage late Monday, stole a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition and fled when the homeowner, who was in the garage, drew a pistol and shot at him several times, Bivens said at a news conference.
Police said they have no reason to believe Cavalcante was injured by the gunfire.
Two hours before the garage encounter, police said, a motorist alerted police to a man matching Cavalcante’s description crouching in the darkness along a line of trees near a road. Police found footprints there, followed their trail and found the prison shoes Cavalcante had been wearing. A pair of work boots was reported stolen from a porch nearby.
Cavalcante broke out of the Chester County jail on Aug. 31 while awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021. Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police that he was wanted in a slaying in Brazil, his home country.
To escape the Chester County lockup, Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbing over razor wire, running across a roof and jumping to the ground. His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a head count. The tower guard on duty was fired, officials said.
A $25,000 reward was offered for information leading to his capture.