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Police: Escaped Killer Fled With Homeowner's Rifle; Police: Some Of Escaped Killer's Clothes, Shoes Have Been Found. Aired 9:30- 10a ET
Aired September 12, 2023 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: They observed footprints in some mud, which were identical to the prison shoes worn by Cavalcante. A track was initiated and shortly, thereafter, both of his prison shoes were located.
Information was received from another resident in that immediate area that a pair of work boots had been stolen from a porch at her residence. The tracking of Cavalcante continued in a northerly direction. And at 10:10 p.m., a call was received from a resident on Coventryville Road, indicating a short Hispanic male, no shirt and wearing dark pants had entered his garage while the homeowner was in it and that he grabbed the 22 rifle that was leaning in the corner of the garage.
The homeowner drew a pistol and fired at Cavalcante as he fled with the rifle. PSP responded and secured that scene. At that time, a green sweatshirt and white t-shirt believed to belong to Cavalcante were discovered near the edge of the driveway. The perimeter was expanded to include that area.
Overnight, searches of the area within the perimeter were conducted by tactical teams from multiple agencies. Teams from Pennsylvania State Police, Border Patrol, ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals and Chester County have been active through the night. Teams are currently being rotated out and replaced with fresh teams, aviation assets, K-9s, mounted patrols, and numerous other assets have been mobilized and are currently operating in this search area.
Upwards of 500 law enforcement officers are engaged in securing the perimeter and in conducting the searches. We are mobilizing additional resources as we speak, and are planning for an extended operating period if necessary. Cavalcante is considered armed and extremely dangerous. He is now armed with a 22 caliber rifle with a scope and flashlight mounted on it.
Throughout the night, we spent -- or we sent several reverse 911 messages to residents within a 3-mile radius of this incident, as well as posted information to social media and an effort to inform the public and to keep them safe. We also notified the affected schools of this incident in the very early morning hours and a decision was made to close schools in the Owen J. Robert School District for today.
The current perimeter includes PA 23 to the north, PA 100 to the east, Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south and Iron Bridge and County Park roads to the West. We ask residents in and around this vicinity to please secure homes, outbuildings and vehicles. It is imperative that anyone with information about Cavalcante, contact us immediately so we can act on it in a timely manner.
They can call 911 or our tip line at 717-562-2987, 717-562-2987. We will take questions at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the response time, sir, from the moment the homeowner called the state police after the shots of the fire? What was the response time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we believe he's injured?
BIVENS: We have no reason to believe that he is injured as a result of that shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, did he's still trying to hit south (INAUDIBLE)?
BIVENS: I think he is trying to survive and avoid being captured right now, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any mission (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does this change of your tactics when it comes to the fact that he's now considered armed and dangerous?
BIVENS: We have considered him dangerous right from the very start, it changes nothing. We have always considered him to be a risk. We just now absolutely know that he has a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you taking notes where he is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he knows where he's been --
BIVENS: I think, yes, he has been in that area before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want homes to be evacuated?
BIVENS: We're not evacuating homes at this point. We're asking residents to be vigilant and again, lock their doors, call us if there is any issue or any concern on the part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) fire between the homeowner versus Cavalcante?
BIVENS: It was several shots. I don't have that number. That just --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, (INAUDIBLE) about late last night?
BIVENS: Not as a result of anything with the search. We've had a few minor incidents or issues with officers out on the perimeter and things but nothing related directly to the service.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he not getting help from anyone -- has he gotten help from anyone at any point in these days?
BIVENS: I'm not going to comment on whatever assistance he may or may not have received. What I will tell you is that, at this point, I believe he is beyond assistance and he is in that perimeter. And we will actively hunt until we find him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) with the investigation (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that he have a firearm, do you have a federal location containment? Is it imperative to push down, especially given the urgency of the firearm?
BIVENS: Sure. We have been pushing anytime we had him contained from the very start. We have seen this as a high priority throughout. It is in this particular case, the search area is probably close to 3 miles across east to west and 2 to 2.5 miles north to south. It's a large area, wooded, hilly terrain. It's not something that it's a matter of just sending a few people in and searching.
As I said, we've had a number of tactical teams operating in there through the night. We continue to have teams operating in there now. It will take a long time to clear that entire area. And we will -- but we will continue until we do locate him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talked about how difficult the area around (INAUDIBLE) was to search in. Is this a similarly difficult more or less than thought?
BIVENS: You know, some similar challenges the difference here, it's a little larger area. And so anytime you're in an area like this, you can imagine if you went out and took a several square mile area and had to try and find a single person who was trying to hide, it's a challenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is it contained now in that area?
BIVENS: As I've said before, no perimeter is ever 100 percent impenetrable. We are absolutely -- have absolutely stood up a very strong perimeter. We will do our very best to contain him in there and to capture him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw some boats being driven in. Are there any creeks or waterways in that area (INAUDIBLE) circle? BIVENS: There are some creeks in there, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For context of law enforcement's thinking right now that he is often dangerous, are the officers instructed to wear tactical gear?
BIVENS: The officers have been wearing their gear throughout this entire search. Again, we have always considered him dangerous. We just know -- we now have confirmation that he has a firearm. The tactics are the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How (INAUDIBLE) ammunition?
BIVENS: It was with the firearm. It was with the firearm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry?
BIVENS: It was with the firearm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, he's so close to French creek right now. I know that tunnels were a factor potentially in the Longwood area. Are you all searching the tunnels from where he was last spotted last night, within the tunnels, you know, (INAUDIBLE) last night?
BIVENS: We are focusing on that entire area. Again, we have people -- supervisors on the ground out there assessing any issues or risks of escape, and we're trying to address any possibility out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) that these residents contacted officials pretty quickly, the fact that the tactical team was able to see the footprint, identify them as prison shoes, what happened? Why weren't they able to find him?
BIVENS: They have been searching for him, it was only minutes. But in that amount of time, he traveled a significant distance. We've been utilizing dogs, and we've been utilizing tactical teams. So, you know, again, just because we find a footprint doesn't mean we necessarily know which direction he traveled.
And in fact, he had traveled south and then went back north. So it's not a matter of just charging into the woods and knowing that, you know, it's that away. It's a matter of trying to track him. It's a matter of sweeping methodically through the woods, checking buildings and so forth. We don't have the luxury of just charging up the nearest trail and hoping that's the direction he went.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he stoked out that house and stole firearm, went to the garage. The firearm is waiting there. He'd been watching that house?
BIVENS: I don't believe so, sir. I think, at that point, he was being pushed by the teams that were pursuing him from the original sighting.
I think it was -- in my opinion, I believe it was a crime of opportunity. I think he went in there probably trying to hide, the garage door was open. He didn't, I believe, recognize that the owner was in there. And I think he was probably looking for a place to hide, ran for that garage, saw the firearm, grabbed that and countered the homeowner and fled with the firearm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the square mile of area now that he would more searching? Can you give an estimate?
BIVENS: I don't know, what is that? Eight to 10 square miles probably.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had two instances now of Cavalcante, picking up supplies that really changed the search, whether it was a van with the keys in it, or a firearm that was somewhat unsecured. Do you have any things to change the messaging in this new containment area to really, you know, emphasize the importance of locking?
BIVENS: I don't know how much more I could emphasize it, sir. I've been very clear about securing things. We have sent, as I said, several reverse 911 messages through the night again emphasizing that point and telling residents, you know, what they can do, just advising them the situation. I can't be any clearer that they need to secure things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have maps of culverts, drainage areas, tunnels?
BIVENS: We're working with a variety of maps. We have county emergency management people on site and have had them on site here and in the command post so that we do have access to the available information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) on the officer that passed out this morning on 1:00 a.m. (INAUDIBLE)?
BIVENS: I don't I was told that it is not a life-threatening situation. But I don't have any other information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, you said it's a matter time (INAUDIBLE) is captured, feels like you're getting very close. How many law enforcement officers be on the ground right now on the other 400 number?
BIVENS: I would think -- we're well past the 400. We are probably around 500 right now. It's very fluid. We have people still coming in. We've been releasing people that were held overnight. We have people that had been on duty for 20 hours, 24 hours or more. And we're relieving them, we held people over because of the seriousness of the situation last night.
So we're working through replacing all of those. We have people coming in. I can speak for the state police from all over Pennsylvania to support this effort and to be able to sustain it. And our partner agencies are doing the same not only from Pennsylvania, but from out of state as well with various specialty teams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION) BIVENS: No, this is the area where he left the van. It's very close in proximity to where the van was abandoned. And where I talked about that I believed he was in the woods and was likely hiding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The homeowner interviewed -- yes, can you give us any more detail about what (INAUDIBLE)? Has he gotten the reverse 911 call when the homeowner shot him?
BIVENS: I really can't provide any more detail right now. What I can tell you is again, he encountered him, he did call us very quickly. He did what we asked him to do with regard to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what road is that?
BIVENS: Coventryville road.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times he fired at him?
BIVENS: I don't have that number of shots. Several shots I was told.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A report said Cavalcante stole a pair of boots. Are those accurate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
BIVENS: I'm sorry, which homes are you referring to, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The home (INAUDIBLE) garage, when he's in the ring door camera.
BIVENS: Those homes -- well the ring door camera is nowhere. It's not in this search area. And the home with the garage that we talked about is within the search area. And we are actively working that area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
BIVENS: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a sense of probably other houses you might have been in in this area?
BIVENS: I don't have reports of any other houses that he'd been in. Doesn't mean he hasn't been, but we don't have reports of those.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is gone wrong here? I mean, have you underestimated him. Is he just that much of a worthy adversary?
BIVENS: Sir, I don't know why you would think something has gone wrong. Our law enforcement people have done an amazing job tracking him and locating him that proverbial needle in the haystack and they've located that needle repeatedly. You know the questions yesterday about, is he out of state, is he somewhere around the country. And we told you we were actively searching in this area. Our people have done an amazing job. I'm very proud of the work that they have done and continue to do. There is nothing has gone wrong. Our agencies are all working very well together. And I believe we will be successful in the long run.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) pursuing it now that he's on. How is that possible?
BIVENS: We have always considered him to be very dangerous and I have stressed that in every one of my press conferences and every briefing that I have given to our people that are out there searching. We consider him desperate. We consider him dangerous. All this does is confirm for us that he has a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he desperate enough to use that weapon on target law enforcement?
BIVENS: He's killed two people previously, I would suspect that he's desperate enough to use that weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) based on the weapon now in the field?
BIVENS: I'm sorry, is there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any efforts underway to prevent him carjacking --
BIVENS: Sure, we're actively working that area. I don't know what other efforts we could make to prevent a carjacking. We've asked people to secure everything. Anything that occurs in there, we will be on top of. And, you know, we're making every effort to find him as rapidly as we possibly can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there still shelter in place within certain people can leave their homes?
BIVENS: People can leave their homes, that's entirely up to them. We have not tried to direct anybody to shelter in place. We have simply asked them to secure their homes. It's up to them if they want to leave. If they need assistance, they can let us know. And we will work with them to make sure they can get out of the area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the house on Coventryville have a video of the interaction from last night?
BIVENS: No. I'm saying (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you communicating with the governor's office? How is it goes?
BIVENS: I have been in regular communication with the governor's office and the governor himself. The governor has been closely monitoring this entire situation, has offered any resources that are necessary, has offered to contact other states if need be. So he's been closely monitoring this, he's on top of it and we continue to keep him advised.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other than the theft of the rifle, did Cavalcante make any aggressive moves to the homeowner who I believe is (INAUDIBLE). Is that accurate?
BIVENS: He did not, to my knowledge, make any other aggressive moves. They confronted each other. The shots were fired and he fled. And I'm not going to release anything else about the homeowner at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know how close they actually got to each other, the homeowner and Cavalcante?
BIVENS: It was a number of feet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you want the public to know at this juncture? I know you've reiterated some very important facts, but just --
BIVENS: No, I think, again, I stress, please secure things and not just within the perimeter, in the vicinity around it. And please call us immediately if they see something suspicious, if they believe that Cavalcante might be in the area. We need that information. Again, it's a large search area. We're going to very thoroughly search it but their assistance is very much appreciated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), can you explain why you can just push through with the terrain with what you're dealing without challenging --
BIVENS: We are pushing through with the terrain with tactical teams, but it is not really practical to suggest that we could line up a line 3 miles long and push in one long line through there. We've got to methodically search it. We've got trained teams that are doing that. And we're going to cover that ground as quickly and as thoroughly as we possibly can.
Thank you very much. We'll get additional information to you as things unfold. Thank you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Major developments out of Pennsylvania overnight. You've been listening to Lieutenant Colonel George Bevins with the Pennsylvania State Police reporting that the convicted killer on the run. Danelo Cavalcante is armed right now, very much not in custody, not captured, armed with a 22 rifle and a scope.
This is how it happened at 10:10 p.m. last night. They received a call from a resident indicating that a short, shirtless Hispanic male had been in his garage while the guy was in it. This man fired at Cavalcante. Cavalcante ran off, not injured, we believe.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Right. He said they don't believe that he has been injured but there were several shots fired and they were just feet away but they think that Cavalcante got away with that gun.
BERMAN: Again, these developments happening overnight. They are now flooding the zone where this man was last seen. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And one thing you -- we all were noting as you're listening to this, the tone in this press conference, there is a difference and a change from the press conference in -- just the urgency in the message and the seriousness of how this message was delivered. This press conference also was not planned.
You know, when we woke up this morning, we learned about a partway through the morning showing that things are developing. They're very clear that they now have upwards of 500 law enforcement officers on this in this search area looking for him warning everyone in the Chester County area to lock your doors and secure, you know, if you have firearms, secure them and secure obviously, your property because the manhunt is very much underway and in a very -- it almost a very different phase now because it's much more dangerous. As we know this man now has a rifle.
Let's get over to Danny Freeman, he has been on the ground covering all this. Danny, you noted this morning that there was a lot activity this morning and overnight, a change here. What sticks out to you from this press conference?
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well the first thing I want to mention is directly to your point. We have seen this most recent push and action. We're at the edge of this most recent perimeter on State Route 23 and State Route 100. That intersection right here, and we've seen horses and trailers going in.
We've seen armored vans, multiple armored vans with law enforcement officers dressed in fatigues, off road vehicles. Of course, helicopters have a constant presence in the sky. So we can feel those extra officers as Lieutenant Colonel George Bevins said. 500 officers now in this area behind me searching for Cavalcante.
But, Kate, to your second question about what stood out to me in this press conference, it's almost hard to begin. Remember, we've been giving that first or that primary citing the 10:10 p.m. one where he was able to steal that gun, a lot of attention, but let's not forget, there were two sightings last night, Kate.
There was one at 8:00 p.m. we learned in this press conference, a woman said she saw someone running along the street on Fairfield road. And just to give viewers a little bit of perspective, there have been a tremendous amount of media, of law enforcement in that exact vicinity along Fairfield road. That's it's by where the van was ditched by Cavalcante over the weekend.
That was where a woman spotted him. Police then came to that scene around 8:00 p.m. They found his prison shoes on the ground discarded that's after they found footprints, and they also had a report of work boots being stolen off a woman's porch that Cavalcante presumably now has.
They sent dogs after him. They sent other teams searching for him at that point, still nothing and then we got that 10:10 p.m. sighting where Cavalcante, according to state police, entered a homeowner's garage in that area, took a rifle right from out of the garage, that rifle a 22 caliber with a scope, with a flashlight, with ammo.
The owner was in the garage fired back at a handgun with Cavalcante. Law enforcement says they got there within minutes of that incident. But Cavalcante was gone. He was in the wind.
One of the things that I really want to touch on here in terms of something that stood out to me in this press conference. Lieutenant Colonel George Bevins was asked, if Cavalcante knows where he is in this moment, and the General Colonel said that he believes Cavalcante does know where he is in this vicinity, he believes he has been in this area before.
That's a surprise and something that we have not heard yet from law enforcement. You know, we knew that he had acquaintances in Phoenixville, that's where he went back on Saturday night to try and get help. That's where we saw the ring video of him clean shaven changing the appearance. But this seems until this moment to be frankly a random area west of where those Phoenixville sightings was, now it seems this is not a random area.
Cavalcante knew where he was going. He potentially knew where he wanted to ditch that van. And he's been in this area before. The one other thing that I'll note is, this is a large area that law enforcement is trying to sweep right now. Lieutenant Colonel's saying it's about 8 to 10 square miles describing the terrain is wooded as hilly.
And even though they have a show of force, like we've been saying all morning in there right now, it is still they say difficult to actually sweep and clear that area. Lieutenant Colonel saying it will take a while to clear this entire area. Again, day 13, we're still being surprised by this manhunt. And it does not seem at this point that they have eyes on him, despite having two sightings last night.
BOLDUAN: Danny, putting it all together for us that this has now entered a new phase, a very important and urgent phase, very dangerous phase as we're now learning.
Danny Freeman's on the ground for us. Danny, we're going to keep following this. Let us know if you pick it anything up as things are changing very quickly here.
SIDNER: They are changing quickly. And luckily we quickly got our John Miller in to talk us through this. Over and over and over again in the press conference, the law enforcement was asked, look, have things changed now because now he has a 22 caliber rifle that has a scope and flashlight on it. Apparently the rifle has rounds in it. Have things changed?
Because his response was, it's been the same. He's dangerous. We've been telling everyone he's dangerous, but you're, you know, law enforcement better than anyone, what has changed?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT: So the rules of engagement have changed. What the state police has put out to the search team is, if you encounter him, and he does anything other than surrender peacefully, you're -- you have a green light to use deadly force.
Now, that's a nuance, but it's really important which is under both Supreme Court rulings and law enforcement procedure, if somebody is running away from you, and they don't pose a deadly force threat to you, you're not allowed to use deadly force, meaning you can't shoot at a fleeing felon.
The difference is -- and this is the nuance is -- if that person getting away constitutes a greater danger to the public, then using deadly force to stop them to wit, they've already committed a couple of murders, they're likely to commit another, then you can engage.
And what the instructions to the forces in the field where is, now he's armed, he has a long weapon, a weapon that can be used as a -- at a distance, he is clearly desperate. And that is going to be a big difference in that potential encounter.
BERMAN: 10:10 p.m. was when they got the call last night that this encounter it happened into a garage. Cavalcante goes into a garage where the resident was. Cavalcante takes the 22 with a flashlight and the scope on it. The man in the garage actually fires at him.
BOLDUAN: He has another pistol somewhere, yes.
BERMAN: Cavalcante runs away. They say the call came in minutes, minute -- within minutes of that encounter. So how does that help them now?
MILLER: Well, it gives them a new search area, it gives them some precision. But what Danny Freeman, you know, touched on is he went to Phoenixville, which is like a suburban town, all the houses are stacked next to each other. But he went there to try and find a human contact, somebody who would know somebody who helped him when he switched to the area he's in.
That is not far from Phoenixville, but the terrain is much more different. That's wooded, that's trees. It's what the Lieutenant Colonel Bevins explained. That has been what has been successful for him. That has been where he has managed to elude them for most of these days. And that is his comfort zone.
Unfortunately, you know, he is the hunted. But the game changer here again is he's got a rifle with a flashlight and a scope. And he's in a wooded terrain. And he has changed the dynamic to take the search teams and make them the hunted. So, this is ratcheted up a bit.
BOLDUAN: One thing --
SIDNER: You're looking at these pictures -- sorry, Kate, we're looking at these pictures right here.
MILLER: Right. SIDNER: And you see the area that they're dealing with. They said it was 8 to 10 square miles. There are all sorts of little outbuildings, all sorts of little places where he could hide, but he could be in the trees and with the scope. It makes him 10 times more dangerous, does it not?
MILLER: It does. Now, let's go to his motivation --
MILLER: -- which is --
SIDNER: Getting away basically.
MILLER: His motivation is two things. Can I use this weapon to further my escape? If I encounter law enforcement, and there is, you know, a small number of them, do I take them on or do I surrender? The primary use for that weapon is likely to be the thing that's going to give him distance, which is a carjacking.
MILLER: He has already tried to enter car as he stolen one car, but it was a car that had the keys in it, with this weapon that is going to increase the risk of carjacking in that area. So that's a two-fold threat. One, to law enforcement who may encounter him because they believe they have him in another box as they have thought before, but also to the public who may encounter him and now he's in an armed man.
BOLDUAN: John, this is day 12, 13 now that they're in, but it seems that now that there -- is this game changing kind of detail, which is we know that he is armed. It seem -- and there -- so we're in the middle of daylight hours, but at some point it's going to turn dark. I'm wondering how critical today is before nightfalls as they're searching for this man and you have a community which is understandably terrified.
MILLER: Well, his pattern has been to hide by day and to operate by night.
MILLER: So they have an opportunity and that they have a box where they think he may be doing that hiding. Again, this terrain that you're looking at on the screen, this is his comfort zone. He has been an agricultural worker, he's been a farm hand. He knows, you know, how a farm works where the good hiding places are, what the outbuildings are for.
Encountering that garage last night, you know, he was able to find a loaded weapon leaning up against the wall. So this is going to be a very interesting 24 hours.
BERMAN: All right, John Miller, stick around because obviously we have this breaking news Danelo Cavalcante armed on the run. Hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement descending on this one area. We're going to bring you the very latest right after a quick break.