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Escaped Fugitive Danelo Cavalcante Captured; Interview with Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Daniel Brunner; Police: Escapee Sustained "Minor Bite Wound" from K9. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 10:30   ET



LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I was here in the command post when the capture occurred. And yes, I'm very happy that this occurred and that no one was injured. You know, it brought a new level of danger for all of our people out here in the field when we knew that he obtained a firearm. And so, for me, the biggest sense of release is -- relief is that no one in the community was harmed and no law enforcement officer was harmed either. So, that's really -- that's the win.


BIVENS: No, I believe he was more mobile the entire time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, what (INAUDIBLE) is he being transported to?

BIVENS: We're not releasing that, but it is going to be a state correctional facility. And once he is secure there, I believe, they will release where he is being housed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Colonel Bivens, (INAUDIBLE). Did he have any means of communication to reach out to those people and coordinate with them as to where he was?

BIVENS: He did not at the time that we captured him.

Yes, ma'am.


BIVENS: Well, as I addressed a few minutes ago, yes, he had the firearm with him. Yes, he was a threat. He did not have an opportunity, I believe, he was taken by surprise. And I believe the K- 9 played a large role in him not being able to utilize that firearm. What I would tell you is, again, that it is our last choice, our last preference to use lethal force. And so, while there were other options, the team did the responsible thing. Did what they were trained and what we expect. And they used other options and, again, lethal force is always their last option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going in for questioning, what kinds of information (INAUDIBLE). What kinds of questions will be asked of him? BIVENS: You know, we have the criminal investigators that have been involved in this. Everything from the escape up through the time that he has been on the run. I'm sure all of that will be included in their list of questions. Whether he'll choose to talk, I have no idea and that will be his choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you assure or you can guarantee the public that this man will not escape again because clearly, he has the ability to do that. Can you say that now?

BIVENS: I can assure you he will not escape while he is in our custody. He will be turned over to state correctional institution. I have every confidence that they be able to safely and securely house him as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Colonel, was he within the perimeter of the -- the perimeter (INAUDIBLE) --

BIVENS: He was.


BIVENS: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How close to the edge of the perimeter was he? Do you know where in the perimeter?

BIVENS: It was within the perimeter and he would have been a few hundred yards of the eastern edge of the perimeter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colonel, in terms of the public being involved, there was video surfacing of vigilantes in Chester County trying to get involved in this case. Moving forward, if something like this happens again, what would you tell the public in regard to getting involved in a case like this?

BIVENS: I would ask them the same thing that I asked this time, and that is please don't come out and try to become involved like that. You'd take away or potentially take away resources that would otherwise be spent on the search trying to deal with those individuals. And we don't want one of them to get hurt unintentionally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How far was the capture from where the (INAUDIBLE)?

BIVENS: Within a quarter mile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, what process --

BIVENS: It wasn't a burglary. It was an alarm, by the way, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What process? Any idea or a ballpark time until the transfer?

BIVENS: It depends on whether he is cooperative and is interviewed. That could take minutes to hours, but I don't have the answer yet whether he's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he have a lawyer, do you know?

BIVENS: I'm not aware of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, do we know if his sister and mother entered the country via Puerto Rico as well?

BIVENS: I don't believe his mother is here. And I don't have that information immediately available here about where they entered. As I said, his sister, though, is in the process of being deported now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some more questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Colonel, after everything that you've been through and seen with Cavalcante, once that interpreter is there, do you plan on having conversation with him? Ask him anything about all this?

BIVENS: No, the investigators are quite confident. They'll gather the information that we believe is important if they're able to. And I am confident that everything we need will be gathered in that way. There's no reason for me to have a personal discussion with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your message to anybody else who tries to escape?

BIVENS: Well, I think it's a very bad idea, obviously. And we will be here. Should something like this occur again, we'll put the team back together and we'll be right back out after them. OK. Thank you all.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D-PA): Thank you, everybody.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: You have been listening to a press conference from Chester County, Pennsylvania. Extraordinary new details about the capture of escaped, convicted killer Danelo Cavalcante which played out overnight starting at around midnight.


We're going to walk through the timeline of what we just learned of how that happened because the details here really are so revealing. So, after midnight in Chester County, inside the perimeter where they've been searching a burglar alarm went off at a residence. They went and checked it out. They could not find anything, but overhead a D.A. -- DEA aircraft with thermal imaging picked up some kind of a heat signal on the ground.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: But then there was a thunderstorm. They had a -- an aircraft in the air, apparently it was a DEA plane that was flying around. There was a thunder and lightning storm. They had to land that, so they could no longer use that aircraft to help them out. So, what did they do? They surrounded the area. They locked down the area where they thought that he may be because of that heat-seeking signal. BERMAN: They surrounded this area and just after 8:00 a.m. they moved in on what was the heat signal, and it was Danelo Cavalcante in the grass, in the brush there. They had him surrounded. They were able to get up close to him without him noticing, but ultimately, he did take notice.

SIDNER: He did take notice. That is when they sent the K-9 in because he tried to flee. He was basically crawling on the ground. He had his gun underneath him, crawling on the ground, trying to get away. They sent in a K-9. The K-9 grabbed him by the head -- by the scalp. We understand he has a scalp injury but he continued to resist, according to the officers.

BERMAN: Continued to resist, but the dog subdued him. The dog got him and with no shots fired, they took him into custody. No one injured other than a slight scalp wound to Cavalcante. All of this from beginning to end, from when they had him surrounded and he began to move in and he crawled away took about five minutes total.

SIDNER: Five minutes is what they said it took. As soon as they saw him, got a hold of him with the -- using the dog and took him into custody. We do now know, and I think we have some new pictures for you that we'll be seeing in just a moment of him being taken out of the van that traversed from the area where they caught him to a new facility where he will be processed. He will be questioned, but he has to have an interpreter. And as John Miller pointed out, probably an attorney with him as they try to question him if he allows that.

And then as we go forward, we will show you some those pictures of what he looks like afterwards. You'll notice that in the first time they cut off his shirt. They were looking for markings, which he has a huge tattoo on his back. And they were making sure, for safety reasons, that he didn't have anything in his clothing. Because remember, this is a convicted killer who was sentenced to life and trying to get away in a desperate attempt not to have to live in prison for the rest of his life.

BERMAN: And we will get those new pictures of him being removed from the police van. Here it is.

SIDNER: They're they are.

BERMAN: Right there. You can see his pants' legs were sliced off there, wearing virtually nothing, being led into a facility. Danelo Cavalcante now in custody being processed involves questioning with Portuguese interpreters and whatnot inside the facility.

Again, extraordinary new details including the moment of confrontation. It was a dog, a police K-9 that, more or less, subdued and captured him. And he did try to resist, which is different than we had initially heard. There was a moment when he tried to get away.

SIDNER: Right.

BERMAN: And then he tried to fight off the dog. Let's bring in our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst John Miller here. Incredible new details here, John.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Yes, and it shows that they have been through this drill more than once in the course of this hunt. Sometimes that heat signal has been a deer moving through the forest.

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: But this time they had that burglar alarm, which was a tell. He didn't actually get into the house if he's the one who set that off, but he's been doing his burglaries as he's been on the run, looking for clothing, food, supplies, cash. And then when that aircraft had to depart, the idea was, do we really want to saturate this in total darkness and go through it in the rain? Or can we hold this ground, lock it down, and when we have some light, go through this? And that's what led to the success.

SIDNER: I think what was also interesting as we're watching this unfold before our eyes, as they're describing all of this, we had also already learned some of the things that he may have stolen which was food. He needed something. It's been 14 days. He wasn't getting a lot of help from anywhere else. We know in talking to one of the residents there that we believe he went into a horse trailer, stole five granola bars, large ones. Whereas John pointed out, he could live off of those because they're high-calorie snacks, if you will.

But ultimately, they found him in a really difficult position because it had been raining like crazy, thunder and lightning. And these officers stayed in that sort of environment, surrounding the area they believed he was in.


And yet when they got upon him, they still found him resisting though nobody was shot. Nobody was injured, except for what the dog did.

BERMAN: Scalp wound.

SIDNER: Which is basically trying to hold him until he stopped resisting and they were able to capture him.

BERMAN: John, can you talk more about the dog here and how it was used. The description we were given of how it was used, why it was used. Because for this 14-day manhunt, it does feel extraordinary for it to come to a conclusion by a dog grasping on to an escaped murderer.

MILLER: So, a dog is an essential element of many SWAT teams. And the dog is highly trained, highly disciplined. Usually, he goes home and lives with its handler. You'll remember, one of the key factors, you know, of the team that captured Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad was a Navy SEALS team with a Navy SEALS, you know, K-9 that was built into that. And it's based on the theory that if you are in all that tactical gear, and you have to run after somebody the dog's going to be faster than a person.

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: And it's going to be faster than somebody in that gear. And the dog is trained to bite and hold, which is latch on to something, a leg, an arm and hold that person until the human team can get there, which is -- sounds, based on the description Lieutenant Colonel Bivens gave --

SIDNER: That's what happened.

MILLER: -- exactly what happened today.

SIDNER: Yes. You also mentioned how important it was, their noses, right? Because he had on a sweatshirt. He took that off. They would have a very fresh scent. The dog is going to be able to smell his scent very, very quickly even though all this rain, all of this lightning and thunder. Clearly, they needed their K-9 to help get this done.

MILLER: So that's an interesting question because that's a logical process for the K-9 team. But this was a tactical dog. We don't know if the dog was read into that scent or was just there for the purposes of chase, grab and hold. But we also learned something really, in terms of detail, when Lieutenant Colonel Bivens said they got into the area, they moved very quietly. They took up their positions and had him surrounded before he realized they were there. And then he said --

SIDNER: And he did.

MILLER: -- once he realizes he's there, he starts crawling away with that -- he takes the rifle with him which had been underneath him. And you know, I had reported earlier that this went without incident. They gave him verbal commands and he stopped. Well, the commands he got were from the dog which is, I'm biting you and you're not going anywhere, until they were able to safely move in and take him into custody. One of the things that dog did was, it tied him up, you know, in terms of, you know, hands while they wanted to close that distance and get that rifle separated from him which was, at that moment, the key consideration. Perpetrator, gun, separate.

BERMAN: And no shots --

SIDNER: Fired.

BERMAN: -- fired. Which does feel extraordinary given how this all went down with him trying to crawl away in the grass with the rifle at that point. I imagine the dog was the last effort to get him before.

MILLER: And remember the authorization they were given last week, which is, if he does anything but actively surrenders, was the term, that you are authorized to use deadly force. Meaning they could have shot him. They would have been within their instructions and within case law. But tactically, they were able to overcome that and didn't have to, which is a better outcome for everybody.

SIDNER: Yes. BERMAN: Danny Freeman on the ground in Chester County, Pennsylvania. You've been there for days and days and days now, Danny. And it came to a conclusion. It all comes to an end like this with this police dog, which by the way, was either a German Shepherd or Belgian --

SIDNER: Belgian Malinois.

MILLER: Malinois.

BERMAN: -- Malinois. Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens is not exactly sure which one made the final apprehension. We may never know. But Danny, you listened to this whole news conference, too. What an extraordinary conclusion.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few things I just want to point out in terms of context of this area. So, like I said we -- or up until recently, up until this entire perimeter went down, we're actually just a mile down the road from Prizer Road where this all went down.

And I just want to emphasize a few different things that you all have been talking about. One, this is the easternmost edge of this tightly held perimeter. And Lieutenant Colonel Bivens said that he came within just a few hundred yards of essentially crossing this particular easternmost edge which just puts into context that he was clearly trying hard throughout the past 24 to 48 hours to get out of and escape this perimeter. And that, I just want to make sure that viewers understand.

The other thing, too, and we talked about it.


Because -- I want to highlight it because the aspect of weather has been something that has been discussed throughout all 14 days of this manhunt. First, we were talking about extreme heat. And Lieutenant Colonel Bivens early on in this investigation and this manhunt said that the heat was affecting their officers. It was incredibly hot, they were getting weighed down, there were emergency issues with -- even a K-9 during the course of this manhunt because of the extreme heat, but he said that heat is likely also affecting Cavalcante.

And then that bring us to last night where, you know, meteorologists in the area, they were all reporting that these violent storms were going to come through. And I thought it was incredible that they had him. They had him in the aerial, DEA fixed-wing plain sights. But then because of the weather, because of that lightning, because of those storms they had to shut down. And that could have definitely helped Cavalcante take that last bit of cover and could have helped him, ultimately, evade another perimeter.

But that description of the law enforcement officials coming in fresh just around 8:00 a.m. to have the element of surprise, as Bivens said, that was truly a remarkable moment in this press conference. And they used the weather in this moment to their advantage. And we heard the U.S. Marshals Service say, I believe it was yesterday or perhaps the day before, forgive me, that now that he's in this area, outside of that initial, more intensely wooded area and in this a little bit more suburban area, the advantage is now going to law enforcement. And that clearly is the case.

And John, Sara, if you'll just allow me, the one other thing that really struck me was actually said by the colonel of the Pennsylvania State Police, not Bivens, who came right out and said that he dedicated this search effort to the victims of Danelo Cavalcante. Remember, he was just convicted not too long ago of murdering Deborah Brandao, his ex-girlfriend, in a vicious, brutal way. He was convicted. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for that particular murder.

The D.A. of Chester County noting that the family is finally relieved. The family of that victim is finally relieved that this person is once again behind bars. And again, he is wanted for another murder back in Brazil that happened in 2017. It shouldn't be lost that the relief, yes, for the area is tremendous, but the relief for those directly impacted by Cavalcante's initial actions that landed him in that prison that he escaped from that's front and center in this capture today. John, Sara.

SIDNER: It is such a good point that you make, Danny. There are families behind this who have been suffering through this, as well as the residents who are there. We also heard from the district attorney whose office put him behind bars who was also furious, I'm sure, to see that he had escaped from the jail before he went to serve out his life sentence.

Now, he has been captured. Brought back to justice. We just want to bring you up to speed as to where we are just before 8:00 a.m. he was found. A K-9 went in and was helping to capture him, grabbed a hold of him, held him. Officers then were able to get a hold of him. No shots fired. No one else injured, but Cavalcante who has a slight injury to his head from the dog. And here we are, he is now headed into custody yet again into another facility where he will likely be questioned. He will be processed and eventually be put back into prison, but not the same one he came from which was the jail into a state correctional facility.

I want to bring in Daniel Brunner, a retired FBI supervisor special agent who was with us this morning. Can you give us some sense of how extraordinary -- we're listening to all of the details of this, and it just struck us as almost like a movie when you're just talking about using every single thing that law enforcement has at its fingertips to try to bring this person in and it finally worked.

BERMAN: From the highest check, thermal imaging --

SIDNER: From -- literally.

BERMAN: -- to a dog's jaws.

SIDNER: Right.

DANIEL BRUNNER, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, what's amazing and it's -- it shows such great cooperation between the agencies that so many agencies were able to come together. But we practiced. We trained like this with the FBI, the U.S. Marshalls, the Pennsylvania State Police in a multi-agency command post for everyone to come together. And this one command post, all the information was getting fed.

The aircraft, the information from the aircraft, they were able to see it live, and then that information was being fed to the ground, to the BORTAC, to the Pennsylvania State Police in real-time from the DEA aircraft. From a federal aircraft being -- information is being fed to the ground. The communication, the cooperation, it is remarkable, like you said, it is, but it shows and -- the dedication of all these agents and these officers that were on the ground. The restraint and the training that they had at the moment whereas Mr. Miller said they could have used deadly force when he was actively trying to escape, but they didn't.


They had the less than lethal -- the dog. And I'm sure they had other ways to use less than lethal because the intent is to capture him and bring him to justice, not to kill him. Even though that is a possibility, their -- the intent was to capture, which is -- it shows the incredible restraint and training of the officers on the ground.

BERMAN: Yes, talk to us more about that moment because, again, from the moment that they had him surrounded to the moment they had him in custody was about five minutes total. But we just learned from this news conference --

SIDNER: It's actually a long time when you think about it.

BERMAN: It does feel like a long time, right? We just learned that he tried to crawl away. He was trying to crawl away with a gun. He had a gun, trying to get away. What's going through your mind if you're one of the officers, the law enforcement? And we know there were Pennsylvania SWAT team and also federal agents, what's going through your mind on that moment?

BRUNNER: Well, like I said, those -- there was -- the training that these officers go through to become a member of these special tactics teams is amazing. They're -- you're taught restraint. You're taught training. You're looking for these different actions of the criminals that are, you know, may be moving towards the weapon. The fact that he was actively attempting to crawl out. The fact that he was fighting the K-9, he was resisting arrest.

It's -- your sense -- your senses are heightened. You're constantly looking for the threat. As they released the K-9, I'm sure that was part of their training as before they go out, they advise, they talk about it. They say, OK, if this happens, we'll release the dog. There are steps in preparation as they go out. If we encounter him, let's release the K-9. And if that happens, each one of these officers in their training is to get into position and to contain the threat. The fact that he was crawling away, it clearly was an attempt to escape, but the K-9 was able to subdue the fugitive. SIDNER: Daniel Brunner, thank you so much for your analysis. And I apologize for saying your name incorrectly. I just talked to you yesterday. Appreciate you coming on.

BERMAN: It's been a busy morning.

SIDNER: It's been a bit of a busy morning, but there's no excuses for Sara Sidner. Thank you so much for coming on and going through that with us.

I want to turn now to John miller. John, just about everything that your source told us happened, happened except for the very end with the K-9. And we didn't know exactly how this capture actually went down. So, now what? Because now he is in custody. Now, he is actually going into the facility where they will do what and going forward. He has an attorney, right?

BERMAN: Because there's an appeal?

SIDNER: There's an appeal.

MILLER: There's an appeal that was -- the appeal of his murder conviction was to be filed like the day he escaped or the day after. So, clearly as a client he didn't put much faith in the success of that appeal because he escaped jail and went on the run.

SIDNER: Does the attorney have to be there when he's questioned since they know he has one or is this something they can do without the attorney with a, obviously, they needed an interpreter for him?

MILLER: So, this is a legal nuance which is he's currently represented by counsel. So, there is a question about whether you can question somebody who is currently represented by a counsel. There's a language barrier. He speaks Portuguese and not much English but enough to get by. So, what's going to have to happen? So, where are we now?


MILLER: We're at the Avondale Barracks of the state police. He -- going to be arrest processed there. They're going to take another set of prints to match. They're going to take a mug shot. They're going to do whatever their normal arrest processing is. There's going to be a medical screening which is, you know, they've done the preliminary version, but a guy did fire shots at him so you got to make sure is there a wound? Is there a graze wound? So, there's going to be a medical treatment? Does he need treatment for the cut on the scalp?

SIDNER: The wound on the top of his head, yes.

MILLER: Or anything involving the dog bit, that's a second phase. The interview phase is going to be -- it's going to have to come with a Miranda warning.

SIDNER: Right.

MILLER: Which will have to be done through the interpreter. Somebody who's been in jail since 2021 and operating in the scope of a prison is probably well schooled in the idea of not talking to authorities. But they're have to go through that process to see if he wants to waive that. And then it's going to be off to state prison.

There may be things that can happen here. He may be charged and it's likely he'll be charged with escape.

SIDNER: With escape, right.

MILLER: There may be, you know, the desire to question him about who, if anyone, helped him on the outside, up to and including his sister or other friends? Was there other prisoners? That's going to be part of an investigation. No idea whether he would cooperate with that, relatively unlikely. But he's already convicted and already sentenced.

SIDNER: Right, to life.


BERMAN: If we can, on one of our other walls here, we have the picture which they were asked about law enforcement posing with Cavalcante after they captured him. Now, we do see two dogs in this. And John Miller, in addition to being a senior law enforcement analyst here, you own like 14 dogs. There is in that photo a German Shepard and, I believe, the Belgian --

SIDNER: Malinois.

BERMAN: -- Malinois right there.

MILLER: Right. The Belgian Malinois would be the one on the left.

SIDNER: He looks like he's real, ready to go, that Malinois. It's -- yes.

BERMAN: So, we're not 100 percent sure if those were the dogs.

SIDNER: Which one of them, yes.

BERMAN: But they're the breed of dogs that we were told were involved in this. Also, in that photo, you can see the actual gun, the 22- caliber rifle with the flashlight mounted and the scope. Again, so many developments this morning. Danelo Cavalcante in custody. We will bring you the latest breaking news right after a quick break.