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Escaped Killer Caught After 14 Days On The Run; Police: Dogs Subdued Escaped Killer; Escaped Killer Apprehended In PA With No Shots Fired; Police: Surveillance Plane Picked Up Heat Signal In Dead Of Night. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, they got him. I'm Dana Bash in Washington. And we start the hour in Pennsylvania, where police close the net on a convicted murderer ending a two-week long helter skelter search to put Danelo Cavalcante back behind bars.

CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene in Chester County. Brian, I know that you have been there. You've been talking to law enforcement. What are you hearing at this hour?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, they have him in custody. He is going to be transferred to a state correctional facility after he has processed as for whether he is actually talking and cooperating. We don't have word that he has done that yet. And we got word that he did not talk or cooperate right after being captured.

The sequence went a little bit like this. And a little after midnight eastern time last night, there was a burglar alarm that went off in a house inside the perimeter of the search area. Officers went to that house, did not find anything there. But about 1 am Eastern Time, a fixed wing aircraft flown by the DEA found a heat signature on the ground.

Unfortunately, the timing was such that a lightning storm came in right after that, and the aircraft had to get out of the sky. But they weren't able to send a tactical team to the area where the heat signature was found, and kind of surround that area. At a little after 8 am, they closed in on Danelo Cavalcante.

He apparently was not aware of their presence at first, but quickly became aware of it. And that's when he started to try to get away. He crawled away with the rifle that he's still with him. And that's when they released the dog that actually subdued him.

This is my exchange with Lieutenant Colonel George Bevins of the Pennsylvania state police about the encounter between the dog and Cavalcante.


TODD: Can you give us more detail on the actual encounter with the dog? Did the dog tackle him, bite him (Inaudible)? LT. COL. GEORGE BEVINS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: You know, again, I didn't see this specific capture. What I would tell you is the way those dogs are trained is to simply go to the person, they will grab whatever is closest for them to grab. And then they are trained to detain that individual. They don't just keep biting and releasing or trying to cause additional injury. They simply grab on to and try and hold that person in place until officers can get there.

So, that's why they're never released, you know, at some great distance or unsupervised. There are officers close by who can then move in. The handler can immediately pull the dog back off of the given the command, pull the dog back off and then off.

TODD: Did he fight the dog? Did he resist the dog?

BEVINS: He did.


TODD: And a little more detail from Lieutenant Colonel Bevins. When I spoke to him after the news conference, he said that while Cavalcante was crawling on the ground, trying to get away, he had that rifle that he's still within his grasp. I mean, within his arm's length of him. And when the dog was on top of them, the rifle was within reaching distance. So, it was a bit of a close call when the dog was on top of him. And the dog didn't bite him.

There was a wound on his scalp apparently. But it's not clear if the dog actually bid them on the head or whether he got that wound from something else. But it was kind of a close call, Dana, because the rifle was within his reach when the dog was on top of him. Thankfully no injuries to law enforcement personnel, to the dog or any member of the public, but it was a bit of a close call there.

BASH: Incredibly dramatic tale of what happened in the early hours of the day. Thank you so much for getting a lot of those details. Just now Brian, appreciate it. And here with me now is former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analysts John Miller, retired Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, and former Washington D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey.

Chief Ramsey, I want to start with you because I am a Washingtonian at this point. I've been here a long time. I remember that the sniper where you were involved in a manhunt. Talk big picture about what you saw here, particularly given the experience that you have with looking for somebody and having a community very, very, very concerned about it.


CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, it was a tremendous effort on the part of all the law enforcement agencies coming together to conduct this manhunt. People don't realize just how difficult that is in terms of the logistics and bringing everyone together, but they do come together, and they come together seamlessly. This was a very intense effort over an extended period of time. They finally caught a break with that burglar alarm or alerted them to a particular area. The DEA playing using FLIR technology was able to get that heat registered. So, they knew they had a person in that area. So, they were able to kind of surround.

Being in Philadelphia now, we had a tremendous rainstorm last night. And so, they obviously had to shut down the areal support during that period of time, but it gave them an area to really focus on. And then as soon as they were able to close in and thank God for that dog who deserves a medal, by the way. They were able to capture him without having to resort to lethal force.

And he was armed. We don't know if he were to use that gun or not. But he's already killed two people and he definitely was a desperate individual, but it was resolved without any bloodshed. And that is just always a positive outcome.

BASH: And Captain Johnson, I want to go to you next. Chief Ramsey talked about the thermal imaging that led to this killer's capture. Listen to what law enforcement said about that.


BEVINS: There was an aircraft overhead, utilizing FLIR technology and close to 1 am picked up a heat signal that they began to track. Shortly after 8 am, tactical teams converged on the area where the heat source was. They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise. Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred.


BASH: And that's pretty incredible use of technology, of modern technology. What do you make of what you just heard?

CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL (RET.): I think it's really important. I think it's important that our federal agencies partner with local agencies and we saw that here. It was an outstanding job in partnership, not just with law enforcement, with the community also.

And I think, when I heard a governor speak this morning, he talked about how important that partnership was. How important funding is to make sure we have the right equipment. The technology really played an important role in this. The use of the canine. But also, the state agency deciding to wait until daylight to go in after the subject, that for his safety and also the safety of the officers that were there.

So, it was an amazing job by all law enforcement partnerships. And we see that across the country. And so, like Chief Ramsey said, it was a great job. And the canine did an outstanding job, and I agree deserves a medal for all of us.

BASH: I think we definitely all agree on that. You mentioned the idea that the alarm went off, kind of in the middle of the night, shortly after midnight. It did take eight hours from the alarm going off for them to capture. But John Miller, it sounds like they did that intentionally. It was a bit risky.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I think they've been through this a few times during the course of this hunt, where they've had a sighting, or they've had a heat signal to track. In this case, because of the thunderstorm, the lightning, the aircraft that was tracking that heat signal had to go land.

So, their decision was, do we want to saturate this area with what we have and do some kind of grid search in this darkness? Or do we want to put a smaller box around where that heat signal was? Let's lock this down overnight. Let's get more resources. And then let's find out when we have some daylight. And that strategy actually worked.

BASH: And Andrew McCabe, you have been as a law enforcement officer for many, many years, getting up to the top of the FBI. You've been involved in manhunts before. When you look at this, how it was handled during the last two weeks, and most importantly, over the last 12 hours or so? What are your thoughts?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: You know, Dana, there's nothing that I think certainly that I or really anyone else can look at to say, well, you know, the Pennsylvania state police, they shouldn't have done this or should have done something that they neglected to do. They really ran this thing in from an incredibly well-organized kind of discipline perspective right from the beginning.

Now that said, they didn't get a lot of lucky breaks, right? He slipped out of their perimeters a couple of times. That happens in a manhunt. It's frustrating for the community and everybody watching it, but those sorts of things happen. They stayed in there. Key for me was them bringing in a massive amount of resources from outside their community. So, multiple federal agencies, technology like we saw on the FLIR technology on the DEA aircraft.


I mean that is absolutely essential. Doesn't matter how big or strong a police department you are. You can always improve your position by bringing on the technology and capability of others. They clearly did that. And I think that's how we got this outstanding result today. We have a person back incarcerated, and nobody got hurt.

BASH: I have to ask about the photo op. This was hard. And perhaps for a civilian like me to watch. It was a monumental achievement, as you described, as we've been talking about. But having all of these law enforcement officials who were involved in this capture, pose for a picture before putting him in the armored vehicle. Have you seen that before? Is that standard operating procedure?

MCCABE: I don't know that anything about this is standard. It's a fairly rare occurrence. I don't think there's anything illegal about what they did, they didn't abuse this man. They took him into custody appropriately. I certainly understand their sentiment. It's an enormous accomplishment through two incredibly hard weeks for these folks that have been literally cutting their way through the woods.

However, unfortunately, we live in a time where law enforcement is under incredible scrutiny. And they are the actions and micro actions of every law enforcement officer under the microscope of every single day. And anything that we do that creates an impression of gratuitousness, or kind of self-congratulatory feel, I think, doesn't help the public's perception of law enforcement. So, think it was unfortunate, but pretty small compared with the massive accomplishment they achieved.

BASH: Yes. That's well said. Chief Ramsey, what do you make of that? I mean, if that happened, when you were -- actually, let me just do this. Let me play what the law enforcement official on the ground said in response to a question about that.


BEVINS: I'm aware that there was a photo op that was taken out there and those men and women worked amazingly hard through some very trying circumstances. They're proud of their work. I'm not bothered at all by the fact that they took a photograph with him in custody.


BASH: Chief Ramsey?

RAMSEY: Well, I'm not a fan of that sort of thing personally, and I agree with Andy. I mean, it's nothing illegal about it at all, but and I understand the emotion after, you know, two weeks of trying to find a very dangerous person to finally get him into custody. But, you know, that sort of "trophy photo" if you will.

I'm not a fan of. I would not be real happy, if it were me. But we're all different. And I mean, if the lieutenant colonel or the colonel is not bothered by it, then you know, it is what it is. But I'm not a fan of that sort of thing. You know, be professional.

It's kind of like, you play football. I'm not a big fan of all the dancing in the endzone act like you've been there before, you know, and this is kind of like that same thing. You know, you got him in custody, do your job and the rest of that stuff, you know, save for some other place.

BASH: Old school. Appreciate it. We're going to have to let you go. Everybody else is going to be sticking around because we have a lot more to talk about, much more about the stunning capture and all of the details we are learning. Stay with us.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BASH: Breaking news, a whole community is breathing easier right now after an escaped killer is headed back to prison. Danelo Cavalcante's 14 day run from the law, ended this morning after police cornered him. Authorities gave a dramatic TikTok of how they finally got their man, picking up a heat signature in the dead of night, tracking him and then sending in a police dog to do the hard work shortly after eight o'clock this morning.

Defense Attorney Joey Jackson joins the conversation now. Joey, I want to start with you just on looking forward. We do understand that the fugitives sister tried to help him evade police. Do you anticipate that there will be more charges filed?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, I do, Dana, and that has to be, right? What happens here is that there needs to be accountability. And we yet, and we understand certainly as to the fugitive that he's serving a life sentence. And so, people may ask, OK, charging him with escape. What does it mean?

It's important because it has its return value. However, that's not the only item that authorities have to look at. They have to look at everyone else who assisted, who aided, who in any regard tried to right facilitate him escaping or eluding police. And so, I do think the police will not only look at her, or anyone who particularly could have been involved here such that others who may do it in the future are held accountable and know that it's entirely unacceptable. So, I certainly am looking to see that happen moving forward.

BASH: And John Miller, this was a massive, massive manhunt. About 500 law enforcement members were involved, agencies, including the Pennsylvania state police, FBI, ATF and the U.S. Marshals. Given that the question is and given how little he had the Cavalcante. Why do you think it took two weeks?

JOHNSON: I think that's actually well within the range. You've got a guy who, in an urban setting, what you're looking at is, where's the person moving? What cameras is he passing by? What videos have been captured on? Does he have a phone? Can we track that phone? Who are his associates? Can we shrink his world by icing them out or using them to bring him in?

When a guy who has experienced living outdoors runs into the woods and is constantly changing locations? I think Colonel Bevins said it today, when a person who doesn't want to be caught is running from the law and doing so in a challenging terrain. That can take a while.


We know that the hunt for Eric Frein, who had killed the state trooper in 2014, took 48 days. The hunt for Mike Burham who escaped from jail also allegedly for murder back in July that took 10 days. So, these things and those terrains, they're a challenge harder than even in the city.

BASH: That's a really important point. It's great context. And Captain Johnson, I don't want to lose sight of the victim -- victims, but in particular, he's alleged to have killed somebody in his home country of Brazil.

But what happened that led him to prison in the first place, the murder of his ex-girlfriend, stabbing her 38 times in front of her two small children. I'm thinking about the trauma that was reopened for the family. After they thought he was going to be behind bars, he was behind bars, and then all of a sudden, he's on the loose.

JOHNSON: Yes, it's like you're going to relive it over. And so, I think for that family here in Brazil, it's a lot of closure. I think relief. And I think it's an attribute to the police department. 15 days is, it's within the realm an outstanding job. But yes, it brings closure and also to the community, the community was on heightened alert, you know, he's gone into some homes. So, I think it brings a lot of closure to a lot of people across the country, not just in Pennsylvania and the family.

BASH: Andrew McCabe, let's talk more about the dog, the hero dog. Let's listen to more about what law enforcement are saying about the dog's role.


BEVINS: The dog is very quick, has the ability to disable someone and take them off guard, so that they're not able to do something like fire a gun or use a knife or whatever other thing that or escaping. You know, the dog is going to be much faster than that person.

And so, there's an element. And there's also an element of fear that it brings in, and it causes them to do something like curl up in a ball, dropped to the ground, those kinds of things, and it gives our officers those extra few seconds that they need to be able to get in there and secure that person.


BASH: Again, Cavalcante was our historic gun from the garage of a local homeowner. It was a 22 caliber rifle with a scope mounted flashlight. Is that the situation? Is that why the dog went in? Or are there lots of reasons?

MCCABE: I think there are a lot of reasons. If they could have been within arm's reach of the subject before he made any motion to grab the weapon. They may have been able to just put hands on him and not send the dog in. However, when you're outside that arm's reach and your subject has a weapon and you know that he's killed people in the past. I think it was an incredible act of control and discipline to use the dog rather than just start shooting.

BASH: And this is, the dogs are specifically trained for moments just like this.

MCCABE: They are trained exactly for this. They love what they do. They just want to work. These dogs are so motivated and so directed. They get in there. They know how to overwhelm someone, how to kind of keep them immobilized, keep them from arming themselves. And very often they do it at their own expense. We had, I remember when I was in the FBI 2013, we had an FBI dog, a two-year-old German Shepherd, who had a barricaded subject in an abandoned bar in upstate New York. And the team couldn't even send a robot and it was so dangerous to get in front of this guy had been shooting at them. They sent the dog in first. The dog was shot in the chest and died.

But by going in first, he enabled our team to go in and take this person to actually shoot the subject without sustaining any additional injuries to the team. So, it's incredible the sacrifices they make. They are an essential piece of the tactical team.

BASH: Yes. And we don't know if it was a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois. We'll find that out soon and the name and probably a lot more information. As we should, he should get the medals that that everybody here says, that this dog -- a big stick, a big bone deserves. John Miller, what are you hearing from your sources about unanswered questions at this point?

MILLER: Well, the unanswered questions are going to be, was he getting any help on the outside? Did he have any help on the outside before the escape in terms of helping to facilitate that? Did he have any help on the inside?

You know when you look at that video of him crab walking up the wall, you know, in the wider shot, you see another prisoner standing there who appears right when he starts his climb and disappears right when he goes out of view. So, there's the question of was there a lookout involved and things like that.


In the larger sense, Dana, they really have to do a top to bottom reassessment of that Chester County prison, which is the county jail, to determine can they even have tier one violent offenders there until they figure out if it can contain them because this escape looked too easy.

BASH: Sure, did. Thank you all so much for your information, for your expertise. All of it, it is really such a dramatic, dramatic situation in the story. Up next. Pennsylvania Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, who represents this area of Pennsylvania will join me to talk more about the capture of Danelo Cavalcante.