Law enforcement officers search for escaped convict Danelo Cavalcante on Tuesday in Pottstown, Pa. About 500 personnel are scouring 8 to 10 square miles in an area west of Philadelphia, according to Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens. Matt Rourke/Associated Press

A Pennsylvania resident shot at a convicted killer who was stealing a rifle from his home Monday night, police say, a week and a half after the “extremely dangerous” fugitive escaped from a nearby prison.

The Pennsylvania State Police wrote on X about 2 a.m. Tuesday that officers were pursuing Danelo Cavalcante, 34, in South Coventry Township, Pa., in Chester County, west of Philadelphia. Authorities warned residents to not approach Cavalcante if they see him.

“He is armed,” police wrote on the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Residents in the area are asked to lock all doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors. Do not approach. Call 911 if seen.”

Police responded to a call at 10:10 p.m. from a resident in Chester County that said “a shirtless, Hispanic man had entered his garage and took a .22-caliber rifle,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference. The resident drew a pistol on Cavalcante and fired as the escaped inmate fled with the rifle. Bivens did not say whether Cavalcante was injured.

Bivens said the “armed and extremely dangerous” fugitive was looking for a place to hide when he saw the gun. Bivens said he has told searchers the entire time they’ve been looking for Cavalcante to assume he was armed.

“I think he is just trying to survive and avoid being captured right now,” Bivens said. “It changes nothing; we have always considered him to be a risk.”


About 500 personnel are scouring 8 to 10 square miles in an area west of Philadelphia, Bivens said Tuesday. Authorities announced that the combined reward for capturing Cavalcante is now up to $25,000.

Cavalcante broke out of Chester County Prison on Aug. 31, a week after he got a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao, 33. Prosecutors said he stabbed her dozens of times in front of her two young children in August 2021. She had found out Cavalcante had a warrant for a 2017 murder in Brazil, where he was born. He killed her after she threatened to expose him to police, detectives said.

The escapee has eluded hundreds of law enforcement officers, drones, helicopters and dogs since breaking out of prison. The FBI and U.S. Customs Border Patrol sent resources to aid the manhunt.

Officials described having to hack away at brush so thick that searchers a few yards apart couldn’t see one another.

The search went a week before officials revealed how Cavalcante broke out of prison. Authorities said last week that he got out by scrambling up the prison yard walls, diving through barbed wire and bolting across the roof of the facility.

Cavalcante slipped out of a police perimeter over the weekend, stole a van and changed his appearance, authorities said. He was spotted Saturday night on a doorbell camera at the home of a former co-worker, Bivens said at a news conference. The once-bearded fugitive was clean-shaven and dressed in a dark-billed baseball cap and green hooded sweatshirt in photos released by authorities.


Cavalcante went to the home of another former colleague Saturday night, Bivens said. Neither former co-worker was home when Cavalcante visited.

Authorities said Cavalcante was reported to be driving a van that he was able to steal from a dairy farm because the keys had been left inside. By mid-Sunday morning, the vehicle had been abandoned in a field in West Nantmeal Township, a rural area in northern Chester County.

Bivens described Cavalcante on Sunday as being “willing to endure some hardship” to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison.

“He is very determined,” Bivens said. “We are even more determined.”

The manhunt has put the surrounding area on edge and forced schools to close. Two districts in the area, Kennett Consolidated School District and Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, canceled classes last week. The Owen J. Roberts School District in Chester County announced Tuesday that all schools and offices were closed again for the day.

“The safety and security of our students and staff remains a top priority,” Superintendent Will Stout said in a letter to parents posted to X. “We know that this situation is stressful and upsetting for our entire community.”


Before Cavalcante stole the rifle, Bivens said in the Tuesday news conference, a motorist reported seeing the fugitive crouched near the road. Authorities investigated the scene and found footprints in the mud that matched his prison shoes. After police found the escapee’s prison shoes nearby, another resident reported that a pair of work boots had been stolen off a porch.

The rifle that Cavalcante stole has a scope and a flashlight mounted to it, Bivens said. There are no reports of Cavalcante entering other homes.

Despite the search for Cavalcante stretching on for nearly two weeks, Bivens said that “nothing has gone wrong” and that law enforcement “will be successful” in capturing him.

“We are making every effort to find him as rapidly as possibly can,” he said.

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