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Escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante armed with rifle as manhunt enters 14th day

Danelo Cavalcante latest: Police continue to search 8-mile perimeter in East Nantmeal Township
Danelo Cavalcante latest: Police continue to search 8-mile perimeter in East Nantmeal Township 03:03

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) -- The search for escaped prisoner Danelo Cavalcante is now in its 14th day, and police have their search helicopter back up in the air Wednesday after thunderstorms pounded the region overnight

Armed law enforcement officers have been searching the perimeter in East Nantmeal Township where Cavalcante was last seen Monday night. 

Upwards of 500 officers are at the latest perimeter bound by Pennsylvania Route 23 to the north, Route 100 to the east, Fairview and Nantmeal roads to the south, and Iron Bridge and County Park Roads to the west, State Police Lt. Col George Bivens said.

Police believe the convicted killer is hiding inside that area. They've been searching cars and checking licenses as people have been coming and going through the perimeter.

On Tuesday night, PSP urged residents in the perimeter and surrounding areas to remain vigilant, secure homes, buildings and vehicles, and contact police immediately with tips if they see Cavalcante.  


Cavalcante is believed to have discarded a T-shirt and sweatshirt he was wearing and changed footwear since he was last spotted, and officers are searching a roughly eight-square-mile area, Bivens said.

"He's killed two people previously, I would suspect that he's desperate enough to use that weapon," Bivens said.  

The last description of Cavalcante is that he was shirtless and wearing pants and work boots, Bivens said later on Tuesday.

Danelo Cavalcante sightings amid manhunt for escaped prisoner 00:47

There was a flurry of activity in the manhunt starting around 8 p.m. Monday when a driver saw a man crouched near the treeline on Fairview Road south of Route 100, Bivens said.

The driver then turned around trying to verify what she saw and the man was gone.

When a border patrol team arrived at the scene, they found footprints matching Cavalcante's prison shoes, and another resident nearby reported work boots being stolen.

Authorities believe Cavalcante was fleeing from that earlier sighting when he entered the garage of a home near French Creek Elementary School. That's where the convicted murderer acquired the .22 caliber rifle, which has a scope and flashlight, Bivens said.

It's unclear if the rifle is loaded, police said.

A green sweatshirt and white T-shirt believed to have been worn by Cavalcante were found near the edge of that home's driveway.

RELATED: Danelo Cavalcante escape video: surveillance cameras from Chester County Prison show inmate "crab-walk" up wall

"In my opinion, I believe it was a crime of opportunity," Bivens said. "I think he went in there probably trying to hide, the garage door was open, and he didn't, I believe, recognize that the owner was in there. ... Ran for that garage, saw the firearm, grabbed that, encountered the homeowner and fled with the firearm."

The owner fired multiple shots at Cavalcante but police do not believe the suspect was injured by the gunfire.

Now, the search is focused on an area that is said to be about 3 miles by 2 and a half miles and is wooded and hilly terrain.

"At this point, I believe he is beyond assistance and he is in that perimeter, and we will actively hunt until we find him," Bivens said of Cavalcante.  

Images from Chopper 3 showed police tactical vehicles at the elementary school.

Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia

The manhunt closed roads in South Coventry Township and shut down the Owen J. Roberts School District near the search area. The school district will be closed again on Wednesday. 

Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 after being sentenced to life without parole for the murder of ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao.

In a news conference, Gov. Josh Shapiro said, "We're gonna get this guy," adding that leaders know this is "a moment of deep worry and anxiety" for residents of the state and particularly the neighborhoods around the search area.

"We do feel like we've got this suspect contained in an area, we're putting all of our resources on it, all of our assets are being deployed," Shapiro said. 

Shapiro declined to provide a cost estimate on the expansive search but had blunt words for anybody who would consider assisting Cavalcante.

"I want to let the public know if you do anything, anything, to try and assist this individual, we will hold you accountable and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," Shapiro said.

A reward for Cavalcante's capture has increased to $25,000. You can contact the police tipline at 717-562-2987.

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks on manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante 08:05
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