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Escaped Pennsylvania killer Danilo Cavalcante taken into custody after he was subdued by a police dog

Law enforcement officers escorted Danilo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Avondale, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, September 13. Matt Rourke AP

By Danny Freeman and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN

September 13, 2023

The convicted murderer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison nearly two weeks ago was taken into custody on Wednesday morning, Pennsylvania State Police announced, ending a manhunt that drew hundreds of law enforcement officials to the area and left the surrounding community gripped with fear.

“Our nightmare is finally over,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan declared Wednesday morning.

The dramatic capture of Danilo Cavalcante around 8 a.m. Wednesday in Chester County involved an aircraft, a lightning storm, a police dog and more than 20 tactical officers, authorities said.

At around 1 a.m. Wednesday, an aircraft flying above the search area picked up on a heat signal on the ground, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said in a news conference. A storm rolled in and lightning forced the aircraft out, and a tactical team of 20 to 25 officers secured the area and waited out the storm until morning.

Danilo Cavalcante mug shot.

Cavalcante was sleeping when police found him, lying on top of a rifle he had stolen from a nearby resident late Monday night. Officers took Cavalcante by surprise, and he tried to flee by crawling through thick underbrush with the rifle in hand, Bivens said. A police dog was released and bit him, preventing him from using the rifle, and police then took him into custody.

Bivens described Cavalcante as “defiant and still resisting arrest” and noted that the dog left him with a scalp wound.

“When the dog got to him, he then went flat with the dog on him – the dog was able to detain him there,” Bivens said. “I was told the rifle was within arm’s length.”

The aftermath of his capture shows Cavalcante in handcuffs and being escorted by more than a dozen heavily armed officers into the back of an armored Special Response Team vehicle.

Cavalcante had blood on his face and was wearing dark pants and a Philadelphia Eagles hoodie, which was cut off his body before he was placed into the vehicle. A number of officers also posed for a group photo with the fugitive and the rifle.