EAST NANTMEAL TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) — Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante is still believed to be within a search perimeter in Chester County, Pennsylvania after he stole a rifle from a garage and fled a homeowner’s gunfire, authorities said Tuesday.
Heavily armed police descended on the South Coventry Township area closing roads and telling residents to lock their doors in the nearly 2-week-old manhunt.
The escaped murderer who has been on the loose in Chester County, Pennsylvania for nearly two weeks is now armed with a rifle, state police say.
Video from Chopper 6 on Tuesday morning showed armed crews in tactical gear walking through fields, forests and backyards looking for Cavalcante.
State police say the convict was last spotted around 8 p.m. Monday when a motorist was a man crouched along the woodline on the south side of Fairview Road west of Route 100 in East Nantmeal Township.
She turned around to get another look, police say, but by that time the man was gone.
Troopers and a border patrol tactical team responded to the scene and found footprints in the mud identical to the prison shoes Cavalcante was wearing, police said.
Police tracked the footprints and found both of the prison shoes had been discarded. Police say another resident in the immediate area reported a pair of work boots had been stolen from the porch of her home.
At 10:10 p.m., police say Cavalcante entered the garage of a home on the 3500 block of Coventryville Road while a homeowner was inside. Cavalcante grabbed a .22 caliber rifle that was leaning in the corner.
That rifle has a scope and flashlight, police said. Police noted that Cavalcante also has ammunition that was with the firearm.
The homeowner, who police say was armed with a pistol, fired several shots at him. However, police say they do not have any evidence that Cavalcante was hit.
Police found a green sweatshirt and white t-shirt, believed to belong to Cavalcante, discarded near the edge of the driveway.
New search perimeter established
The current search perimeter is bordered by Route 23 to the North; Route 100 to the east; Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south; Iron Bridge and County Park roads to the west.
Upwards of 500 law enforcement are engaged in securing the current perimeter, which is three miles to the east and west and two miles north and south.
Gov. Josh Shapiro visited the command center in Unionville on Tuesday and said the agents and officers working this case have his full support.
He sought to reassure the community, while also asking residents to do their part to help in the manhunt.
“We’re doing everything in our power to make sure you are safe,” Shapiro said. “I would just urge you to keep your doors locked when you’re inside, your cars are locked, you don’t leave things out on your porches.”
As a result of the ongoing search, all schools and offices in the Owen J. Roberts School District will be closed Wednesday.
Residents in East Nantmeal and South Coventry townships are asked to lock all external doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors.
The inmate has been on the run since he broke out of the Chester County Prison on August 31.
Police announced Monday that the reward for information leading to Cavalcante’s capture has grown to $25,000.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens also gave a stern warning to anyone who may be helping Cavalcante evade police.
“We will prosecute you fully for those actions,” he said. “Alternatively, I would suggest that if you are in a position to help facilitate the safe capture of Cavalcante, if you choose to assist us, you could be eligible for some or all of the reward that has been offered.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the police tip line at 717-562-2987.
Police defend efforts to find Cavalcante
State and federal officials had pushed back Monday against questions about whether they blew a chance to catch Cavalcante, saying the area where hundreds had been searching included deep woods, underground tunnels and drainage ditches.
They also said it took more than two hours for news to reach them that he had been spotted outside the perimeter for the first time.
Cavalcante slipped out of an earlier 8-square-mile search area over the weekend and stole a dairy delivery van that had been left unlocked with the keys in it. He abandoned it more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the search area after unsuccessfully seeking help at the homes of two former colleagues late Saturday, police said.
Bivens declined to say how he thinks Cavalcante slipped through the perimeter, but he said no perimeter is completely secure.
‘He doesn’t have what he needs’
Cavalcante is desperate because he is reaching out for help from people with whom he hasn’t spoken in years, he said.
“The fact that he has reached out to people with a very distant past connection tells me he doesn’t have a great network of support,” Bivens said. “So I think he’s desperate and I’ve characterized him as that all along. And I think the longer we push him, the more resources, the more tools we bring to bear, we will ultimately capture him. He doesn’t have what he needs to last long-term.”
Bivens has said state police are authorized to use deadly force if Cavalcante doesn’t actively surrender and noted other agencies involved in the search may have their own rules.
Bivens declined to discuss whether Cavalcante has received assistance from others but said no such arrests have been made.
Cavalcante’s sister arrested
Cavalcante’s sister was arrested by immigration authorities, Bivens said. He said she was arrested for staying past her legally allowed period of stay and law enforcement had no reason to allow her to remain in the United States since she was not cooperating with the investigation.
Cavalcante, 34, broke out of the Chester County Prison while awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for fatally stabbing ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao in 2021. Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police that he was wanted in a slaying in his home country of Brazil.
To escape, Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbed over razor wire, ran across a roof and jumped to the ground. His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a head count. The tower guard on duty was fired, officials said.
In Brazil, prosecutors in Tocantins state said Cavalcante is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 slaying of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in the municipality of Figueiropolis, over a debt the victim owed him for repairing a vehicle.
ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report