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Fugitive Richard Matt shot dead in N.Y. woods, police search for second escapee

By Danielle Haynes and Doug G. Ware
1/20
Law enforcement personnel stand at the scene along Route 30 near the Elephant Head trail in Malone, New York where escaped prisoner Richard Matt is believed to have been shot dead on June 26, 2015. Law enforcement were called to Route 30 by a 911 call from a motorist who heard shots fired. A second prisoner David Sweat is still on the loose. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/01dee9ff67463ef4ed5843b8fc604cfb/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Law enforcement personnel stand at the scene along Route 30 near the Elephant Head trail in Malone, New York where escaped prisoner Richard Matt is believed to have been shot dead on June 26, 2015. Law enforcement were called to Route 30 by a 911 call from a motorist who heard shots fired. A second prisoner David Sweat is still on the loose. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y., June 26 (UPI) -- Richard Matt, one of the two convicted murderers who escaped from a prison in upstate New York three weeks ago, was shot dead Friday, law enforcement officials and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed.

Sources told CNN Matt was shot and officers were pursuing the second escaped inmate, David Sweat. The New York Times and ABC News, quoting sources, reported Matt died of his injuries.

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Matt's death was additionally confirmed by Cuomo Friday evening.

"You never want to see anyone lose their life," he said in the CNN report. "But I would remind people that Mr. Matt was an escaped murderer from a state prison. Mr. Matt killed two people who we know about. Mr. Matt killed his boss in a dispute and dismembered him. He fled to Mexico and then he killed another person in Mexico and was imprisoned in Mexico."

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Cuomo said investigators are following up on several leads in the case, but so far none point to Sweat's possible whereabouts.

The shooting was prompted by an alleged carjacking incident involving a recreational vehicle. Police said Matt had obtained a firearm and allegedly shot at the driver of a camper. The driver then called 911, leading law enforcement to the area.

Police said that though they were chasing Sweat, they didn't have eyes on him after the shooting of Matt.

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Earlier Friday, in a news conference, Maj. Charles Guess told reporters they believed the men were headed to Canada. "Based on what we know at this point, we have a high degree of confidence in our conclusion," he said.

Police believe Matt and Sweat were moving under cover of darkness. They have found items apparently belonging to the men in the towns of Belmont and Malone, N.Y.

"We have drawn definitive conclusions from that," Guess said.

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Sources told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican that DNA from Matt was found at a cabin in Malone, which is about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.

DNA from at least one of the men was found over the weekend at a cabin in Owls Head, N.Y.

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The two men, who used tools to escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., on June 6, have picked up basic survival supplies to help them on the run. Guess said the terrain in which the men are traveling is difficult and rugged.

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"It's as much a challenge to the inmates as it has been to the law enforcement," he said.

Police say Matt and Sweat had help in their escape from two prison workers -- Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer. Mitchell allegedly hid tools for the men to use in frozen hamburger meat.

She has pleaded not guilty to charges of promoting prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.

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Palmer, a guard at the prison, was also arrested on charges of first-degree promoting prison contraband, two counts of tampering with evidence and official misconduct. He is accused of giving the frozen hamburger meat to the men.

He was initially suspended with pay, but his pay has now also been suspended, the Press-Republican reported.

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