Police closed roads in a Philadelphia suburb, asked residents to lock their doors and set up a new search area amid a nearly two-week manhunt for the escaped killer Danelo Souza Cavalcan, authorities said Tuesday. Te stole a rifle from the garage and fled the homeowner’s gunfire. .
Cavalcante entered an open garage in a search area in northwest Philadelphia late Monday and stole a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition when the homeowner in the garage pulled out a handgun and shot him several times, Pennsylvania State Police lieutenant said. Cavalcante fled. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
Days earlier, Cavalcante had slipped out of an early search area in southern Chester County, stolen a dairy delivery truck and headed to the home of a former co-worker in what police said was a desperate attempt by Cavalcante to help.
Bivens said about 500 law enforcement officers were searching or guarding an 8- to 10-square-mile area in another area of Chester County near the town of South Coventry, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia. More police were called in to secure the area, with police closing roads and setting up checkpoints to search vehicles.
Bivins said he had no reason to believe Cavalcante was injured when the homeowner shot him.
Before that encounter, a motorist alerted police that a man matching Cavalcante’s description was crouching near the tree line in the dark near the road, Bivins said. Police found footprints and traced prison shoes identical to those worn by Cavalcante. A pair of work boots were reported stolen from a nearby porch.
Bivins said when he saw the open garage, he believed Cavalcante was fleeing his pursuers and looking for a place to hide.
“The garage door was open. I believe he didn’t realize the owner was inside. I think he was probably looking for a hiding place, ran toward that garage, saw the gun, grabbed it, met the homeowner and then took the gun with him Escaped,” Bivens said.
He said it was a “crime of opportunity”.
A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture.
At least one school district said Tuesday it would close all schools and offices for the day, and another in the region planned to keep students indoors. Police blocked roads in the search area. Video of the roadblock showed law enforcement officers stopping and inspecting vehicles leaving the area.
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.
On Saturday, Cavalcante slipped out of an 8-square-mile (13-square-kilometer) search area earlier in the weekend 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 search range, but he said no range is completely safe.
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.
Bivens declined to discuss whether Cavalcante received assistance from others but said no arrests had been made.
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 stabbing to death an ex-girlfriend in 2021, escaped from the Chester County Jail while awaiting transfer to a state prison. Prosecutors said Cavalcante killed her to prevent her from telling police he was wanted in connection with a case. Killed 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 “double homicide” over a debt the victim owed him for repairs to his vehicle.
Broomfield reported from Silver Spring, Maryland. Associated Press writers Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia and Eleonore Hughes in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.