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New York escapee David Sweat shot by police, in custody

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Jun 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-28 22:23:37-04

UPDATE: Prison escapee David Sweat is listed in critical condition at Albany Medical Center, a hospital official told reporters Sunday night. Emergency, trauma, intensive care, radiology and vascular surgery specialists are involved in his care, the official said.

MALONE, New York — A massive, more-than-three-week manhunt for David Sweat ended Sunday as it began, with the escaped murderer in custody.

Authorities said a New York State Police sergeant — identified as Jay Cook — spotted Sweat, and after Sweat ran, the sergeant gave chase.

“At some point, running across a field, he realized that Sweat was going to make it to a treeline, and possibly could have disappeared, and he fired two shots,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico told reporters.

Sweat, who was unarmed, was hit twice in the torso. Authorities described his condition as stable.

A photo exclusively obtained by CNN shows Sweat in custody moments after his capture. The photograph shows him bloodied and wearing a camouflage outfit, not prison garb.

He was taken into custody in the town of Constable, in upstate New York, very close to the Canadian border.

“I can only assume he was going for the border, that he was that close,” D’Amico said.

Sweat was captured about 16 miles north of the location where fellow escapee Richard Matt was killed last week.

Sweat was transported to the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, an officer at the hospital told CNN.

He will be treated at Albany Medical Center, said Tania Allard, the hospital’s assistant vice president for communications. Allard said she could not specify when Sweat would arrive but said he was “on his way” to the facility.

No law enforcement officers were injured during his apprehension.

“The nightmare is finally over,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The break

The arrest wraps up the hunt for Sweat and his prison-break partner, Matt. Matt was shot dead Friday.

Sweat was imprisoned at the Clinton Correctional Facility for shooting dead an officer who pursued him after a robbery he committed.

Behind bars, Sweat and Matt cozied up to a prison tailor and a guard who allegedly brought them tools, which they used to cut their way through a labyrinth of multiple barriers and underground passageways. They emerged to freedom through a manhole in the middle of a street.

Guards discovered them missing on June 6, during a routine bed check.

Law enforcement experts stressed Sunday that it’s crucial Sweat survive so that officials can learn exactly how he and Matt escaped, and who helped them.

Search teams like the ones looking for Sweat routinely include highly trained medics who could immediately begin to treat a gunshot wound, former Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam told CNN as the news of Sweat’s shooting broke.

“I’m sure he’s getting critical care very rapidly,” he said.

The search

Earlier Sunday, about 1,300 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were searching vehicles at roadblocks and scouring dense woods in upstate New York for Sweat.

Since he and Matt broke out of the maximum security prison in Dannemora together — and appeared to stick together on their flight from the law — authorities were hopeful they could be right on Sweat’s heels after encountering Matt.

Searchers had at times followed two sets of footprints, but when they gunned Matt down one day after his 49th birthday, there was no sign of Sweat nearby.

So, on all-terrain vehicles and in helicopters, they continued looking for the man who eluded them for three weeks, using infrared vision devices to peer through the night.

That search was focused on an area along New York’s State Route 30 between County Route 41 in the town of Malone and County Route 26 in the town of Duane, state police said.

‘Thank God!’

Audra Buchanan of Constable said she was stunned to hear recently that Sweat could be near her home.

“We were so nervous,” she said. “We’ve had our housed locked down.”

When she saw on CNN that Sweat had been shot and was in custody, she said she felt “an incredible sigh of relief.”

When she heard sirens and saw ambulances fly by her home, she thought, “Oh my God, thank God!” she told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux.

Her 9-year-old daughter has been begging to go outside and play for weeks, and Buchanan said she’s glad she can now let her.

“Today ends with good news,” Cuomo told reporters. “We wish it didn’t happen in the first place. But if you have to have it happen, this is how you want it to end.”