EAST NANTMEAL TWP., PA—— Fugitive killer Danelo Cavalcante is still believed to be on the loose after stealing a rifle from a garage and fleeing gunfire from a homeowner, authorities said Tuesday.
Heavily armed police swooped into the south Coventry town area, blocking roads and asking residents to lock their doors in a manhunt that lasted nearly two weeks.
The fugitive killer has been on the loose in Chester County, Pa., for nearly two weeks and is armed with a rifle, Pennsylvania State Police said.
Video from our sister station WPVI-TV’s Chopper 6 on Tuesday morning showed heavily armed crews in tactical gear marching through fields, forests and backyards looking for Cavalcante.
State police say it all started around 8 p.m. Monday when a motorist spotted a man crouching in the tree line on the south side of Fairview Road, west of Route 100 in East Nantmeal Township.
Police say she turned around for another look, but by then the man had disappeared.
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Troopers and a Border Patrol tactical team responded to the scene and found footprints in the mud identical to the prison shoes Cavalcante was wearing, police said.
Police followed the footprints and found both jail shoes discarded. Another resident in the neighborhood reported a pair of work boots had been stolen from her porch, police said.
Police said Cavalcante entered the garage of a home in the 3500 block of Coventryville Road at 10:10 p.m. while a homeowner was inside. Cavalcante grabbed a .22 caliber rifle leaning against the corner.
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The rifle was equipped with a scope and flashlight, police said. Police noted that Cavalcante also had ammunition for the firearm.
Police said the homeowner was armed with a handgun and shot him several times. However, police said they had no evidence Cavalcante was attacked.
Police found a green sweatshirt and white T-shirt believed to belong to Cavalcante on the edge of the driveway.
Create new search scope
The current search area is bounded by Route 23 to the north; Route 100 to the east; Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south; and Iron Bridge and County Parkway to the west.
More than 500 law enforcement officers are guarding the current border, which runs 3 miles east-west and 2 miles north-south.
Gov. Josh Shapiro visited the command center in Unionville on Tuesday and said the agents and officers working on the case have his full support.
READ MORE: Fugitive murderer Danelo Cavalcante believed to still be in Chester County; $25,000 reward now
He sought to reassure the community while also asking residents to do their part to help in the manhunt.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep you safe,” Shapiro said. “I just urge you to lock your doors when you’re indoors, lock your car and don’t leave things on your porch.”
All schools and offices in the Owen J. Roberts School District will be closed Wednesday due to the ongoing search.
Residents in the towns of East Nantmeal and South Coventry are asked to lock all exterior doors and windows, secure vehicles and stay indoors.
The prisoner has been on the run since escaping from prison on August 31.
Police announced Monday that the reward for information leading to Cavalcante’s capture has been increased to $25,000.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivins also issued a stern warning to anyone who might help Cavalcante evade police.
“We will prosecute you fully for these actions,” he said. “Alternatively, I would suggest that if you were in a position to help secure the safe capture of Cavalcante, you may be eligible for some or all of the reward if you choose to assist us. “
Anyone with information please call 911 Or call the police reporting hotline 717-562-2987.
Police defend efforts to find Cavalcante
State and federal officials on Monday pushed back on questions about whether they missed a chance to catch Cavalcante, saying the area hundreds of people were searching included dense woods, underground tunnels and drainage ditches.
They also said it took more than two hours for them to receive word that he was first spotted outside the border.
Over the weekend, Cavalcante slipped out of an earlier eight-square-mile search area and stole an unlocked dairy delivery truck with the keys inside. Police said he abandoned two former colleagues more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the search area Saturday night after unsuccessfully seeking help at their home.
Bivens declined to say how he thought Cavalcante slipped past the defense, but he said no defensive line is completely safe.
“He doesn’t have what he needs”
Cavalcante said he was desperate because he was seeking help from people he hadn’t spoken to in years.
“The fact that he was reaching out to people with whom he had distant connections in the past tells me he doesn’t have a strong support network,” Bivens said. “So I think he’s desperate, and that’s how I’ve always described him. I Thinking the longer we push him, the more resources and tools we use, we’ll eventually catch him. He doesn’t have anything he needs to hold on to long-term.”
Bivins said state police had the authority to use deadly force if Cavalcant did not voluntarily surrender, noting that other agencies involved in the search may have their own rules.
Bivens declined to discuss whether Cavalcante received assistance from others but said no arrests had been made.
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Cavalcante’s sister arrested
Cavalcante’s sister was arrested by immigration authorities, Bivens said. He said she was arrested for exceeding the legal limit of residence and that law enforcement had no reason to allow her to remain in the United States because she was not cooperating with the investigation.
Cavalcante, 34, who was serving a life sentence for the 2021 stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao, escaped from the Chester County Jail while awaiting transfer to a state prison. Prosecutors said he killed her to prevent her from telling police he was wanted. A massacre in his native Brazil.
To escape, Cavalcante crawled from the playground onto a crab wall, climbed over a barbed wire fence, ran across rooftops and jumped to the ground. His escape went unnoticed for more than an hour until guards did a head count. The tower guard on duty was fired, officials said.
In Brazil, Tocantins state prosecutors said Cavalcante was responsible for the 2017 killing of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in the city of Figueropolis. ) was charged with a “double homicide” over a debt the victim owed him for repairs to his vehicle.
ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report