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New York prison escapee killed by police, accomplice still at large.

By Pete DeMola

Law enforcement officers have shot and killed one of two prisoners who broke out of a maximum security prison in New York three weeks ago and were pursuing a second escapee near the Canadian border, authorities said.

Richard Matt, a 49-year-old convicted murderer, was killed by U.S. Border Patrol officers after he was spotted in a wooded area in the town of Malone, the New York State Police said.

Police were still combing the vicinity for Matt's accomplice, David Sweat, a 35-year-old who was imprisoned for killing a sheriff's deputy.

"You never want to see anyone lose their life, but I would remind people that Mr. Matt was an escaped murderer from a state prison," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. "Mr. Matt killed two people that we know about."

Authorities said they have no evidence to confirm the whereabouts of the second escapee but have no reason to believe he was not with Matt recently and still in the area.

Malone lies 27 miles (43 km) northwest of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, where the convicts staged their elaborate escape and were discovered missing on June 6. The manhunt has involved as many as 1,100 law enforcement officers.

Dozens of law enforcement vehicles, some of them equipped with floodlights, had converged on the area, signaling the search for Sweat would go on all night if necessary.

Jeff Tough, who lives within the search perimeter across from Lake Titus, said state troopers were lining State Route 30 at regular intervals.

"I feel relieved, to be honest," Malone resident Matt Maguire said while stopped at a roadblock after learning one of the escapees had been killed. "Everybody's been on edge for 20 days."

Police started focusing the search in the Malone area, just south of the Canadian border, when two burglaries were reported this week at backwoods cabins, and items believed to have been dropped by Matt were found, said Joseph D'Amico, superintendent of the New York State Police.

Earlier Friday, authorities were alerted to a third break-in near Malone. When officers arrived at that cabin, they confronted Matt in the woods outside, D'Amico said, and warned the convict to drop the shotgun he was holding.

When Matt failed to comply, the Border Patrol agents shot and killed him, even though the escapee fired no shots of his own, the superintendent said. He declined to elaborate.

In making their escape three weeks ago, Matt and Sweat cut through the walls of their adjoining cells and sneaked along the catwalk to a steam pipe, slithered through the pipe and popped out of a manhole outside the prison walls.

Two prison workers have been charged with aiding them. Gene Palmer, 57, a corrections officer for 27 years, was suspended without pay from his job, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said.

He is accused of bringing hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit to the inmates, hidden in frozen hamburger meat supplied by Joyce Mitchell, 51, a training supervisor in the prison tailor shop. She also has been charged in connection with the escape.

Palmer also let the men slip behind their cell walls onto a prison catwalk to hide contraband and alter electrical wiring so they could cook in their cells, according to court documents.

Matt was convicted in the 1997 torture, murder and dismemberment of his boss in Tonawanda, New York, and was sentenced to 25 years to life.

Sweat was serving a life sentence after his conviction in the shooting death of a Broome County Sheriff's deputy on July 4, 2002.

Immediately after the escape, the manhunt centered on an area east of Dannemora along the shore of Lake Champlain. Last weekend, the search shifted to New York's Southern Tier along its border with Pennsylvania. Officers were deployed to that area, where Sweat once lived, after a series of unconfirmed sightings of the pair, but the effort proved fruitless.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jun 27, 2015
Words:694
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