Update as of 02:07 a.m. EDT: Richard Matt, who was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol officers Friday after escaping from a New York prison, was armed at the time of his death, but did not fire at police before he was killed.
Officers reportedly confronted Matt, who was armed with a shotgun, outside a cabin near the town of Malone, New York. Officers warned Matt to drop the weapon he was holding and, when he failed to comply, shot him dead, Joseph D'Amico, superintendent of the New York State Police told Reuters.
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The search for the single remaining fugitive inmate was still on hours after his fellow convict was shot and killed by law enforcement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday night during a press conference in Malone, New York. Search parties had not seen David Sweat, Cuomo admitted, but officials did confront and kill Richard Matt earlier in the day.
The announcement was made as multiple law enforcement agencies prepared to extend the search for Sweat into the night with night-vision goggles and thermal imaging. Sweat was serving a life sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility about 30 miles southeast of the search area before he and Matt staged a daring escape nearly three weeks ago.
Matt, Sweat’s fellow escapee, was shot and killed Friday afternoon by a U.S. Border Patrol agent from Vermont, according to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was briefed on the matter by Border Patrol and law enforcement. Officials received a 911 call Friday from an RV driver, which led to the chase that ended with Matt’s death. Matt had a shotgun when he was killed, Cuomo confirmed, though State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said that no shots were fired at the Border Patrol agents.
Cuomo and D'Amico both said that law enforcement had Sweat contained in a tight perimeter. "We have no reason to believe that Mr. Sweat was not with Mr. Matt at the time" of his death, Cuomo said, describing the chase. "But we don't have any confirming evidence that he was either. There are several leads that are being tracked down as we speak."
Killing Matt was not the intended objective, but the public should remember that he was serving a sentence of 25 years to life for the murder and dismemberment of his former employer, Cuomo said during his press conference. "These are dangerous, dangerous men," Cuomo said. Sweat was sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole for shooting a Sheriff's deputy.
The search for the two convicts began June 6, when it was discovered that Matt and Sweat had sawed their way through their prison walls and escaped. They were allegedly helped by at least two prison workers, including a prison tailor and a corrections officer. Joyce Mitchell, the tailor, allegedly snuck hacksaw blades to the prisoners in frozen meat. Rumors have swirled in the weeks since the escape that Mitchell had a sexual relationship with Sweat, and that the two convicts had planned with Mitchell to kill her husband after the escape. Mitchell later backed out of the arrangement.
The second prison worker, Gene Palmer, facilitated the process in exchange for paintings that Matt was known for crafting. Palmer was charged this week for helping the prisoners escape and for destroying evidence after it was found that he allegedly burned the paintings in a fire pit at his house.