PoliticsNation, Friday, June 26th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: June 26, 2015
Guest: : Candice Delong, Clint Van Zandt, Eugene O`Donnell
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Hayes and this is
MSNBC`s special coverage. Breaking news tonight in the hunt for two
escaped murders on the loose for nearly three weeks. Police have confirmed
they shot and killed the man they believe to be one of the fugitives,
Richard Matt. The shooting occurred in upstate New York amid the six
million acres of dense woodland that officers have been searching. Cell
phone video caught some of the mayhem including the dramatic moment of
police officer drove past bystanders saying we got him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went pretty fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One guy down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They got one guy? They got the guy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They shot one guy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: High-five.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad, they got one prisoner!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sources tell NBC News they believe Matt and the other escapee,
David Sweat, were traveling close together when officers came across Matt.
The search for Sweat continues at this very moment. Today`s shooting comes
after weeks of pursuit helped by DNA tests that confirmed the convict`s
presence in multiple cabins after 2,000 leads and 21 days one man appears
to be dead another is still running.
Let me bring in NBC`s John Yang who is at the state police barracks in
Malone, New York.
John, what can you tell us about what the scene there right at this moment?
JOHN YANG, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, I can tell you that
this area where they killed Richard Matt is being flooded with manpower
right now. Police, state police, New York federal officials, border,
customs and border patrol, state forestry officers are flooding into that
area right now.
We`ve just been told by law enforcement officials there`s been a second
round of gunfire as they try to close in. They believe they may be closing
in on David Sweat. I can tell you, Chris, that multiple law enforcement
officials are telling NBC News that how this happened was that a customs
and border patrol tactical team, these are the people who patrol the
borders along the Canadian/U.S. border, were doing a sweep when apparently
they heard gunfire. They turned and the initial reports are -- and we have
to stress these are initial reports. The initial reports are that Richard
Matt raised a shotgun and aimed it at these customs and border patrol
tactical team. We`re being told that they fired, they returned the fire or
they fired at Matt, striking and killing him.
Now, all this time they say they`ve had no evidence that Matt and Sweat had
split up. So they believe that if they got Richard Matt, David Sweat
cannot be far behind. That is why they`ve closed in on this area. They`re
flooding it with resources. And as I say, law enforcement officials are
telling NBC News that within the past few minutes, there has been a second
round of gunfire heard as they try to close in on David Sweat.
HAYES: So there`s every reason to believe, as far as we know, that the two
are together, right? I mean, that is the operating assumption. Obviously,
no one knows for sure. But that is at this hour law enforcement`s
YANG: That has been their operating assumption all along. They had no
evidence that they split up. You know, they were drawn to this area last
weekend. It t was on Saturday when someone reported that their cabin,
their summer hunting cabin had been broken into. They either saw or heard
someone flee. They go inside, they find half-eaten food. That food, that
evidence was sent to the state police labs, analyzed and they got a DNA hit
on at least one of the inmates. They came in here, they started searching.
Things seem to have gone cold. And then yesterday a report here in Malone,
a cabin was broken into. They found evidence there that was again sent to
the state crime lab.
Enough came back that they were confident that they had a confirmed
sighting, not visual sighting, but DNA sighting, as it were, of one of the
inmates, one of the escapees. And then this morning in a field not far
away, they found more evidence. So this really closed in very quickly.
They were able to quickly close in on this area. That`s why they were
doing the searches. The customs border patrol tactical team doing the
search in that area when they came upon Matt. There was some sort of
confrontation that ended with Richard Matt being shot and killed - Chris.
HAYES: All right, I want to bring in -- John, if you`ll stay with us. I
want to bring in WNBC chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst.
What can you tell us about how they have managed to stay on the trail of
these gentlemen and how far they`ve gotten, which I think is the most
striking thing when we look at that map.
JONATHAN DIENST WNBC CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Right, and they`re
about what, 35 miles from the prison heading towards the Canadian border,
it now appears. You look that`s the Malone area, that`s where this search
is centering on at this hour.
As John was just explaining, they were moving in as a result of some of the
sightings and evidence taken from that cabin. Why the shooting, why the
confrontation? We`re hearing from law enforcement sources that Richard
Matt was armed with a shotgun. This is preliminary. But that is why this
shooting took place, that`s why this suspect was shot and killed. And the
search continues in a heavily wooded area near the shooting scene where
they`re trying to surround and move in on where they believe the second
suspect now may be in those woods. And so that is the search that is
happening. They`re hoping they can track him down, obviously, before
HAYES: Throughout this entire search, we have not seen any evidence of the
things you might expect, burglaries, in order to get money or stolen cars,
right? I mean, the operating assumption is that these two individuals have
been moving by foot, if they`ve been moving, and they`ve been not in main
commercial areas or knocking off liquor stores or gas stations like that.
If they have been breaking and entering, it has been in these isolated
DIENST: That`s because this is very isolated area. You know, this is
Parkland. This is heavily wooded forest between the border of New York and
Canada. So the sporadic cabins up there. There really is not much up
there other than this Parkland. So they can perhaps break in a cabin
that`s perhaps a vacation home for somebody, spend some time, hide out
there and then move on to the next. That`s the operating theory. And that
appears to be the case. And that`s how they were able to track down these
suspects at this time and resulting in the deadly confrontation.
We should stress it is not confirmed that Richard Matt is dead. That would
require DNA testing, fingerprinting, dental. That still needs to be done,
but all the law enforcement officials saying they`re confident that it is
him, and that they are hopefully closing in on the second suspect.
HAYES: One of the things that immediately came to mind when we heard the
news originally about the first cabin in which DNA was found that there are
a lot of cabins up there, a lot of them are hunting cabins. And it was not
implausible that they would be able to get access to weapons since these
are fairly isolated cabins, often not locked up when people aren`t there
and often, you know, have things like shotguns.
DIENST: That was certainly the concern. All the reporting this past week
has been are they armed, was there a report from a resident that any
weapons were missing. And again today from what we`re hearing
preliminarily from several law enforcement officials is that Richard Matt
was armed, perhaps it was a shotgun, and as a result the customs border
tactical team opened fire shooting him and apparently killing him in the
woods there around 3:45 this afternoon.
HAYES: John, are you still there in Malone? Do we still have you?
YANG: Hold on.
HAYES: I believe we have Clint Van Zandt. Clint, if I can bring you in
for a second.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.
HAYES: The process here, obviously, there`s a huge amount of leads that
have been pouring in. And some of those leads have borne fruit in terms of
the two cabins from which DNA was apprehended which has allowed law
enforcement to track the trajectory of these two individuals. What is
essentially the process by which you go about searching dense wooded land
like this? Is this essentially just sufficient manpower and a grid that
you walk through day after day?
VAN ZANDT: Well, it`s that and more. Of course, they`ve had almost 1100
law enforcement officers. Many of the officers have night vision
capability. They have dogs, search dogs that would have the scent of both
Sweat and Matt. They have air assets, helicopter, fixed-wing assets that
would be overhead.
Now, one of the reasons I think the New York state police suggested their
belief that one if not both fugitives were armed is that they had a trail
camera picture within the last few days that showed two men along a trail,
one holding a shotgun, that they believed was, in fact, Matt. So they had
photographic evidence to support their belief that they likely had a gun.
And then secondly, the story that I`m hearing right now so far unconfirmed
is that one if not both of these fugitives attempted to hijack a vehicle
somewhere in the vicinity of Malone, that the driver was able, somehow, to
elude them and that they fired at least one shot at him. That caused the
law enforcement response, the shoot-out and led to Matt being shot in the
belief that Sweat is in that immediate area now.
HAYES: That actually, again, all of these we should caution that you are
getting now are initial reports. They`re unconfirmed and often can later
prove different. Although the part of the account that John gave us that
didn`t quite make sense is why that customs tactical unit, why there was
gunfire to begin with that they heard, but that would provide some
explanation, Jonathan, if in fact these individuals were trying to hijack a
car. Something that, as of yet, it appears they had not done.
DIENST: I had not heard that piece. I`ve been in contact with certain
officials who are up there on scene. From what I have been told that this
is all taking place in the woods. It is perhaps the result of what we just
heard about an attempted carjacking and they fled into the woods after that
driver escaped. I have no information on that.
But what I do have in terms of why the shooting began, according to several
officials telling us, at least one of the suspects, the one that was shot
and killed, Richard Matt, apparently armed with a shotgun or some kind of
weapon and that`s why the shooting took place in that wooded area around
HAYES: We have a (INAUDIBLE), an intensity concentrated law enforcement
presence now pursuing the other convict, David Sweat. And there is, Clint,
there`s reason to believe the two have been traveling together, that
they`re close together, and that second round of gunfire suggests maybe
even near the grasp of law enforcement right now.
John, any updates on the status --
YANG: I`m sorry, Chris.
HAYES: It is all right. Any updates on the status of that pursuit and
follow-up to the reports of a second round of gunfire?
YANG: We still haven`t gotten anything. This is all going on a few miles
south of here. We haven`t gotten any more word. Interesting to hear my
colleague Jonathan Dienst say that there was apparently an attempted
carjacking that sparked all of this. It is interesting because we hadn`t
had anything like that up until now. For a long time we had no reports of
break-ins until this past weekend. We had no reports of any attempts to
steal a car or hijack a car until today.
But all this is going down several miles away in deep, heavy woods.
There`s a lake there, Lake Titus. There`s a ski resort -- not a resort but
a ski area, Mt. Titus area. It`s very rural. It`s very rugged. Very
heavily forested. It`s all going on in that area now. And we still are
awaiting word as to what`s going on, Chris. Sorry, I missed the question.
HAYES: No, that`s fine. I want you to hang on for a second. I just also
want to caution because during these circumstances information can get
garbled and often bears out incorrectly. We have no hard confirmation of
an attempted carjacking at this point. To the extent that we have hard
confirmation from law enforcement is that a suspect has been shot and
killed, believed to be Richard Matt. The absolute confirmation of that
would have to come with DNA testing, but law enforcement officials are
confident that`s happened.
We have reporting from John that suggests there`s a second round of gunfire
suggesting that the other escaped killer could be quite close. There was
that trail photo that Clint Van Zandt referred to that appeared to show
both of the escapees, one of whom was holding a gun.
John, is there a sense of the mood -- you`re at the state police barracks
in Malone, just a few miles from where the most active part of the search
is happening. Is there a sense there that they are very close to nabbing
the second fugitive?
YANG: Well, I tell you, there was a briefing here at 1:00 this afternoon.
And that`s when they told us that they not only have the DNA evidence from
the cabin that was broken into in Malone yesterday, but this morning they
found more evidence in what was called a field site sort of outdoors
somewhere near that cabin. So it was a real indication that they had been
there within very recently. I mean, in the past, it`s all been sort of --
they`ve seen evidence that they don`t know how long it had been there.
So there`s a real sense today that they had been behind them, a step behind
them for the past almost three weeks now. But that they were closing the
gap. They were closing in. They were getting closer. And now they were
able to get pretty close, close enough within literal shooting distance to
shoot Richard Matt and to kill him this afternoon. But there is, I think,
a great deal of optimism that they believe David Sweat can`t be far behind.
HAYES: John, I want you to stay with us. Clint Van Zandt as well.
Again, breaking news on the prison break manhunt. One prisoner has been
shot and killed, the other is still on the run. What could be going on in
the mind of the remaining fugitive. Stay with us.
HAYES: Breaking news tonight on the escaped prisoners in upstate New York,
again, New York State officials have confirmed one of the prisoners Richard
Matt has been shot and killed. The whereabouts of the second prisoner are
still unclear. We will be back of it more in just a moment.
HAYES: All right. We`re back with breaking news that escaped prisoner
Richard Matt has been shot and killed by law enforcement in upstate New
York. David Sweat, the other prisoner who escaped in upstate New York
prison three weeks ago is still on the loose.
Joining me now on the phone former FBI profiler, Candice Delong.
Candice, what do you think is going through the mind of Mr. Sweat at this
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER (via phone): Well, probably that his
minutes if not hours are numbered. Presuming he`s aware that his buddy has
been shot and killed, certainly he`s thinking that could be him. And so
then the question is does he keep running, does he fight it out, figuring
out what`s he got to lose or perhaps the fear of dying would just possible
be too much for him and he surrenders.
HAYES: I mean, that`s has been what`s been so remarkable about this escape
from the beginning is how breathtakingly audacious the escape was, how well
planned and executed it was. But, of course, looming in the background has
always the case that it just seemed absolutely impossible that these two
men would be allowed to remain on the lam. They had no access as we knew
to vehicles, they had no access to cash. Eventually this day was going to
come. So you have to think that they had made preparations for it.
DELONG: Yes, that`s true. But no matter how much someone prepares for the
fact that they might die, and there are many professions as you know where
people actually sign up to die. Law enforcement, military, that kind of
thing. They know it`s a possibility. But when the bullets start flying,
all previous convictions can certainly become wobblers, and sometimes
people just buckle and are unable to act the way they thought. Maybe these
guys had plans of going out in a blaze of glory as the cops got close. And
you know, there`s probably 10 to 20 cops for every, you know, for one of
them if not more.
HAYES: Yes. And we have to imagine that, to stay together, if they indeed
were together -- and again law enforcement has been operating under the
assumption, confirmed in some places by a photo, both of their DNA found in
one cabin, that they have been operating together. There`s obviously some
kind of sustenance a person can draw in these conditions from having a
partner which is no longer the case for Mr. Sweat.
DELONG: Exactly. Exactly. That would certainly do at least one thing,
and that would be his anxiety would skyrocket if they`ve been depending on
each other for survival. And the knowledge that his buddy, his partner has
been killed by law enforcement certainly, I mean, his options are numbered.
HAYES: Jim, Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF special agent in charge. Jim, can
you give us a sense of what law enforcement is trying to do at this moment?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. I can tell you, Chris,
that any command post on these, you know, the commanders are always trying
to stay ahead, you know. Whether Eric Rudolph or snipers or chasing cop
killers. We are always trying to stay ahead.
You know, the conversation you just had with Candice is spot on. And she
is right. But what you also have to add in, let`s take that conversation
that you had just a little further. These guys traveled 35 miles in 20
days. That`s less than two miles a day. Because that terrain`s so rugged.
So they`re not at a fast pace because they`re trying to hide.
They`re having a lot of conversations. The evidence is they`re together.
And they`re having a lot of conversations about I`m not going back.
Remember, these guys are not guys that are going to face a trial. There`s
a certainty of absolutely going back into the most secure facility, not the
honor block. And they`re having these conversations. I`m not going back.
I`m not going back. Once they get the shotgun and/or a couple of guns;
that even gets enhanced. I don`t care what happens, we`re not going back.
Now some of that talk may be real and some bravado. And like Candice says,
suicide is ambivalent sometimes. You think you want to do it, but maybe
just not today. But there`s a certainty of where they`re going that gives
them determination. And if you can just get ahead in your mind and you`re
in your command post and this is what the state police is doing and what
tactical did a great job on this. I mean, they handled this guy. Sorry to
see anybody lose their life, but they should be commended. They did a good
job, these tactical officers. They`ve got to be ahead -- this guy`s manic
now. He`s in the woods. He has nobody to talk to. He is surrounded by
law enforcement. His friend has been killed. He is been in the woods for
20 days. I mean, his mind is racing. Just picture a manic person. He is
racing. He`s very dangerous, too. Because if he can come across a citizen
with a vehicle or something, if he`s armed, he`s very dangerous. He`s
Now, you know, could it turn that he would walk out, spent and surrender?
Well, you know, maybe. Could a tactical team could confront him from a
distance and he only has a handgun or something and he will surrender?
Maybe. Or could it be that he`ll shoot it out with them, you know. That`s
possible as well.
HAYES: Jim, there`s also a question of the plan post the escape.
Obviously the escape is extremely well planned. It was pulled off in
somewhat stunning fashion. Their seems to have been at least some
guidelines for how they planned to go about what they would do after they
were out, but it also seems that there`s only so far they can go. I mean,
even the talk of the border, there`s obviously a lot of law enforcement on
the other side of that border. Do we have a sense -- does law enforcement
have any sense of what direction they were headed or what the plan was?
CAVANAUGH: Yes, I think if we go back and look at all the evidence over
three weeks, and you know, MSNBC and NBC covered this extensively and so
well about what their motives, you know, the prison people helping them,
the officer sort of unknowingly helping and then, of course, Joyce Mitchell
knowingly helping. They were going to get in Joyce Mitchell`s car and they
were going to drive some long distance. Now, were they going to kill her,
maybe. Were they going to use her, maybe for a while. But if they could
have got any number of hours away, seven, eight, ten hours away before they
were discovered, remember, they weren`t discovered missing until 5:30 in
the morning. Did they come out of that manhole at midnight? They could
have been, you know, in Atlanta.
CAVANAUGH: They could have been a pretty good distance away by seven,
eight hour, maybe not quite Atlanta, but halfway down the coast. And so
then they could have melded in, no perimeter, no saturation police and they
could have maybe found their way somewhere else to the border or somewhere
HAYES: And sort of tragic irony that this kind of last moment of cold feet
and conscience from Joyce Mitchell, who obviously now is facing many years
in prison for helping them, could be the thing that essentially kept them
contained into a searchable zone.
Jonathan, can you give us a sense of what law enforcement is on the ground
DIENST: Well, right now the latest update is it`s a very small area in
this wooded area near the shooting scene where they are searching for the
second suspect. You`ve got state police who are the lead agency, but
they`re being assisted by the U.S. Marshals special operations group along
with FBI agents, along with customs and border protection teams, and it was
one of those customs border protection teams that apparently shot and
killed the suspect Richard Matt.
Remember, it was earlier this week Governor Cuomo reported that a long gun,
perhaps a shotgun was stolen or reported missing from a cabin where one of
the suspects were believed to have been hiding out. So the reporting that
we`re getting now is that this customs team stumbled upon the suspects.
One of the suspects was armed with perhaps a shotgun and the shooting took
place, again, Richard Matt shot and killed.
The hunt on for David Sweat in this wooded area. And as you can see from
some of this video, the enormous response, you know, there have been
reports that as many as a thousand law enforcement officers have been
involved in this 21-day search, flooding that area, which is now about 35
miles north and west of the prison where they escaped en route to Canada.
And the question is had they been hiding out in just camps and cabins all
this time? Have they been moving about just on foot? It appears to be so.
The question now is will they be able to track down David Sweat, and will
they take him dead or alive.
HAYES: All right, still ahead, we will hear from a witness who saw the
police activity near the Richard Matt shooting.
HAYES: Welcome back. We are following breaking news in the manhunt for
two escaped murders tonight. Tonight, police say they shot and killed a
man they believed to be one of the fugitives, Richard Matt. A witness
described some of the police activity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was sitting on my dock, and I heard -- well, I first
saw a number of armed police on the opposite side of the lake. Shortly
that thereafter, I heard a gunshot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What went through your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That they may be got the escaped prisoner or that maybe
he was shooting at them. I really didn`t know. I assumed it had something
to do with the search for the escaped prisoner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you got out of there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did get out of there. Although I didn`t feel
imperiled at the time. I received a call telling me what was going on, and
I was encouraged to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, leading up to hearing that gunshot, was the
police presence any different than it had been days prior?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There certainly has been a significant police
presence over the last week. But today there were more troopers than
normal, the helicopter was flying overhead all day. And that was unusual.
So I definitely felt more of a presence today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. Let`s bring back NBC`s John Yang who is at the state
police barracks in Malone, New York. And John, what`s the latest?
JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Chris, we don`t have
any official word, but there are members of Governor Cuomo`s staff and
office have arrived here at the state police barracks in Malone, which is
certainly a leading indicator that we might, might expect the governor here
tonight to participate in a press briefing. That would lead -- I mean,
obviously, we have this unconfirmed report or a report that state police
have said that they have shot and killed somebody they believe to be
Richard Matt, and they believe that they are following David Sweat.
I have to think that the Governor wouldn`t be coming here if this was not
going to be a successful end or if there wasn`t a feeling that this was not
going to be an end of a successful pursuit here. This has all come
together quickly today. The pursuit, the closing in on Richard Matt, they
started the day analyzing evidence that they pound in a cabin here in
Malone that had been left behind by one of the escapees. And then this
morning they found more evidence in a field. There was a growing sense
that they were closing in, and indeed this afternoon this customs and
border patrol tactical team doing a sweep through a field at about 3:45
this afternoon encountered Richard Matt.
We don`t know the details of the confrontation, but we do know that it
ended with the customs and border patrol tactical team shooting Richard
Matt or who they believed to be Richard Matt and killing him. This will
take a final and firm identification of the body, but right now they are
fairly confident, pretty confident that they`ve got Richard Matt. They`re
hoping -- they say that there was evidence, we`re told, that David Sweat
was nearby. They`re hoping that they`re closing in on David Sweat right
now -- Chris.
HAYES: Now, I just want to distinguish between what we do and do not know
at this hour. The whereabouts of David Sweat are unknown. We do not have
any hard confirmed reporting indicating that that tactical unit that shot a
man that they believe very strongly to be Richard Matt, that that unit
actually saw David Sweat. Right? We don`t know if that was the case, am I
YANG: We don`t know if that was the case at all. As a matter of fact, I`m
not being told. The indications we`re getting is that that is not the
YANG: That there was some evidence, they say, that David Sweat was nearby,
in the area.
YANG: Exactly. And that`s when the pursuit began.
HAYES: Now, this custom border patrol tactical unit. That unit, was that
part of the search for these escapees, the sweep was part of one of the
searches, the many searches law enforcement have been conducting?
YANG: Chris, they`ve been part of this search almost from day one.
Customs and border patrol, just because we`re so close to the Canadian
border. The prison itself, about 20, 25 miles, here in Malone we`re only
about ten miles away from the Canadian border. So, the customs and border
patrol were lending manpower, lending technology. There were customs and
border patrol helicopters involved in this. They have infrared technology
that they were doing sort of infrared scans particularly at night when
things cooled off. That really helped those -- technology because it
heightens the contrast between the surrounding environment and the human
body so you can really see sharp contrast and spot people.
But you can also spot animals and livestock which some officers were
telling us that led to some false alarms within the past week. There have
also been forestry service people, New York State forestry people involved
in this search just because we`re near the Adirondack national -- not
national, the Adirondack State Park, Department of Corrections officers,
state police, there are local police, local sheriffs. This has all been a
sort of all hands-on deck search. They`ve been in the air with
helicopters, not just that infrared technology but cameras, high powered
lenses that can read, you know, read license plates from an altitude of
thousands of feet.
They had bloodhounds on the ground. That was one of the early leads in the
first week around Cadyville, they had a positive hit from bloodhounds. Of
course they don`t know how long ago that was. That scent I was told by
some experts in the field can stick around for as long as 72 hours. So
this has been an all hands on deck search and it was the customs and border
patrol, we`re told by the New York State police, they`re saying that on the
record that it was a customs and border patrol tactical team that did shoot
the man they believed to be Richard Matt.
HAYES: All right. John Yang, I want you to stay with us. And you`ve been
doing fantastic reporting. I want to bring in Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF
special agent in charge.
And Jim, as it appears one of these fugitives have reached the end of the
line. If I went back to you 20 days ago after this escape, what would have
been your best prediction for how long these two individuals could last out
JIM CAVANAUGH, RETIRED ATF SPECIAL AGENT: Yes, I would have thought they
probably would have got caught a little bit quicker. You know, assessing
it -- once they were seen on foot together by the neighbor, Chris, you
know, behind the neighbor`s house where he reported spotting them together,
I thought then and I would have thought in a command post that they`re
going to stick together. Because if they`re going to split up, the time to
split up would have been early on. But Joyce, her cold feet destroyed
their plan. They decided to stick together and try to get on foot out of
the hot zone if you will, out of the area where the troopers were
searching. And so, they inched along, you know, 35 miles and 20 days.
HAYES: Yes. That`s right. I mean, that`s one of the striking things from
today`s news is that they are not very far away. These has been -- these
two individuals have clearly been focusing on staying as hidden, and as in
places as wooded as possible. There have been no confirmed sightings or
carjacking or burglaries near any big population centers, no cash stolen
from stores, for instance. The break-ins we do know about, there`s two,
right? There are two cabins in which their DNA was found. I believe we
have footage of the latter of those. Stephanie Gosk was able to get
inside. She`ll be with us in just a bit to sort of describe that. But it
really does appear they were going very slowly and very carefully searching
for essentially vacated hunting cabins that they could use to get food and
it appears at least from the early reporting we`re getting here, possibly
weaponry as well, right?
CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly, look, the weapon is the key to the highway.
When they got the shotgun, that`s the key to the highway. And what Matt
was likely doing and Sweat was down by the road. They want to carjack
somebody, they want to get out of there. And they had to get near the
road. Here comes CDP tactical team, which is basically a S.W.A.T. team,
trained shooters. You know, that eyewitness was critical. Look at what he
said. He heard one shot. You know, rifle shot is very loud. You would
hear if there was a barrage of fire. So, it sounds like they spotted Matt
with the gun. They might have said, drop the gun, whatever. He raised the
gun, there`s one shot from a tactical officer from customs and border
protection and he`s down.
There`s not a barrage of gunfire. He didn`t report two or three shots.
So, we just have one shot. Of course those are very, very devastating high
velocity rounds. I`m not surprised he`s dead. But the key to the highway,
the gun, trying to move there. Remember, Chris, their diet over these 20
days is foraging through cabins and, you know, eating berries.
CAVANAUGH: And you`re really moving through the woods. I mean, you know,
think about when you go out in a day in the woods and camping, you need a
lot of fat, you need a lot of energy, you need a lot of food and you needed
it just in your everyday work. Imagine being in that fugitive status.
CAVANAUGH: They weren`t getting enough nutrition, energy to be able to
keep going. They were getting desperate. They wanted to do something,
they were moving down near the road and I think likely that`s where they
HAYES: All right. We`ll be back with more. Let`s go to NBC`s Stephanie
Gosk who is covering this story from Malone, New York. Stephanie, what are
you hearing on the ground?
STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We`re standing on route 30 right
now which is part of this active scene in Malone. And there`s been a
steady stream of screaming law enforcement vehicles flying down here. In
fact, there are more on their way and going through this road block down
here. What we know is that Richard Matt has been shot and killed according
to senior New York officials but that his sidekick, David Sweat, is roaming
in these woods right now -- Chris.
HAYES: All right. Stephanie, it sounds like -- again, we don`t have a
hard confirmation of the last -- of any spotting of David Sweat. There`s
some reporting we have that then indicates that there was evidence at the
site that Richard Matt was shot and killed around 3:45 p.m. That Sweat was
near. Stephanie, you were in that second cabin where I believe Richard
Matt`s DNA was found from earlier this week. What did you see in that
GOSK: Chris, we actually went to the first cabin that they were here near
Owls Head. This is a hunting cabin that`s up in the woods. And it was an
incredible journey that we took today with two local hunters who brought us
up there. And what you were struck by almost immediately is that we went
by probably a half a dozen other cabins. And these are cabins that were
not broken into and that they would have had to have passed. They didn`t
go into those. They chose this one, which was in a remote location a mile
and a half off the road that any vehicle could travel on.
And it really raised this question of how did they know it was there and
how did they know they were going in the right direction? Not to imagine
that they would have some sort of map or some kind of direction to work off
of. And we got to the cabin. You saw that there was food there, there
were beds there, if they hadn`t been caught they probably could have been
there for quite a period of time. That cabin is owned by prison officers.
Three of those prison officers work at Clinton. But what I would add is
the prison that they broke out of. What I would add, however, is that in
this area there are a lot of prison officers. Eight hundred prison
officers work at Clinton. A lot of these cabins are owned or partially
owned by prison officers. So, it doesn`t necessarily tell us something,
but it`s still interesting to take note of.
HAYES: Wait. So the cabin was owned by prison officer, the one they broke
GOSK: Yes. The cabin is owned by prison officers. It`s a group of them.
The way these hunting camps work is everyone has a bit of the lease and
they all use it through the hunting season. All prison officers, three
from Clinton Correctional. The cabin officer that stumbled upon that cabin
worked at Upstate Correctional. And again, we don`t have any link between
any of these officers and Richard Matt and David Sweat --
GOSK: -- and there are 800 prison officers that work at Clinton. A lot of
them hunt, a lot of them have cabins up in these woods. So, it isn`t
necessarily some kind of nefarious connection between these two --
GOSK: -- but it is definitely worth taking note of.
HAYES: And just to be clear, I mean, part of what is aiding, appears to
have aided the two fugitives in being able to kind of make their way
through this part of the woods where there are a lot of hunting cabins,
most of them don`t have people in them at this time of year. It`s not a
period of the year where there`s the most hunting happening, right?
GOSK: Yes, that`s exactly right. The hunting season is in the fall for
about three or four months in the fall. And then, during the rest of the
time, they`re there for the most part unoccupied. And although some
hunters have told me that they don`t keep their weapons in these cabins in
the off-season, they`re not so sure about everyone. And one of the issues
that they were concerned about, state police and others, is that there
might have been a weapon or two in this cabin that they picked up. And
we`re hearing in these reports tonight that Richard Matt might have had a
So, you have wonder where he got that and whether he may have picked that
up in one of these cabins. And again, what I would point out, something
that struck us, is that this cabin, you don`t just stumble upon it. You
aren`t going to walk through that woods, you aren`t going to necessarily
take that trail. It almost comes to an end in parts, extremely muddy,
difficult to walk up, and quite a distance off of any main road. It really
left us with the impression that you would have to know that it was there.
HAYES: Wow, that`s fascinating. We will be back with more of our breaking
news this afternoon. One of the escaped fugitives apparently shot and
killed, one still remains at large with law enforcement. It seems possibly
closing in at this moment. Don`t go anywhere, stay with us.
HAYES: All right. We`re back with our breaking news coverage, the search
for David Sweat remains at large at this hour. We just learned, as John
Yang indicated might be a possibility just moments ago, that Governor Cuomo
will hold a press conference at 8:30 Eastern tonight. I will be in the
anchor chair at that hour. So, you should come back for that.
Now, let`s bring in former FBI profiler, MSNBC contributor Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, have you ever seen a situation quite like this one, the
sophistication of the break, the duration that they`ve been out, and the
amount of time that they appear to have sort of kept themselves off the
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, there`s a number of things
going on here. Number one, I think you`re right. The sophistication of
the break. Know that right now as you and I are talking, there are about
130, 135 escapees from federal and state prisons all over the United States
that are in a fugitive status. But I think this story is so gripping,
number one, because of the background of these two, the terrible crimes
they committed, and number two, their ability to cut their way out of what
has been to that date an escape-proof prison. So I think all of those
facts come crashing together.
You and I and I think others who have watched this story, we know that
there`s been at least one, perhaps two people on the inside employees who
either by hook or crook have somehow aided these two. But notwithstanding
that, their ability to punch their way through concrete, steel and other
structures and get out, this is an amazing story. Now, were it not be for
how serious these two individuals are as far as criminals, I think it would
be an exciting story. Right now the excitement is to get this second
person, Sweat, in custody before he hurts somebody else.
HAYES: Clint, you got to think the first thought of law enforcement after
they were made aware, after they realized the break had happened. First,
were there people cooperating inside the prison that is borne out to be the
case. There are now two people who have been indicted for that. The
second thought had to be had they managed to coordinate anything with
anyone outside the prison. Was there a broader conspiracy? Were there
people on the outside that could provide them safe harbor, could have given
them a place to go? So far it`s looking like that second part of the plan
did not materialize or as far as we know and given the events of what had
just happened which is these two individuals essentially in the woods, that
there was no one on the outside that they were in contact with or were
providing them with safe passage.
VAN ZANDT: And that seems to be the case, Chris. I think that were there
to have been a plan B other than the woman who worked inside the prison
potentially going to drive them from the scene, there was no other plan to
get away. I mean, it was interesting when you talked to people these last
three weeks, there were those who said for sure they`ve got be down in
Cancun or someplace sitting on the beach. And then there were those in law
enforcement who said, we`ve had no car hijackings, we`ve had no hostage
HAYES: That`s right.
VAN ZANDT: -- we`ve had no break-ins of homes. They have to be in this
area. We just have to be tenacious in our search and it looks like that
tenaciousness has finally paid off.
HAYES: Yes, that`s exactly right. The very key that anything that would
get them on a plane, on a bus, you know, that would require things like
either a credit card or an ATM or cash stolen, something like that, all of
that never materialized. And that was the operating theory of law
enforcement, which appears today to have borne out, which is we have them
contained in this area. It`s difficult terrain to traverse and it`s
difficult terrain to search. We`re going to keep searching it. Obviously,
two huge breaks being the DNA found in those two different cabins that were
both broken into.
I have Jonathan back, Jonathan Dienst back at the table here who has
obviously been reporting this. Do you have anything new about what`s going
JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Some new updates.
Basically, they have a perimeter now set up in this wooded area, and it`s
near this Lake Titus area. And apparently the wooded area that they`re
searching in, there`s an unconfirmed sighting by law enforcement official
in the wooded area. So they`re now bringing in even more reinforcements,
I`m told, to really seal off this wooded area near Malone, near Lake Titus.
And they`re going to hopefully push in -- that is the goal --
HAYES: I see.
DIENST: Before sundown, perhaps, to really search this set perimeter and
see if they can find this second suspect, David Sweat, and do an all-out
search. They, of course, have technology that can search, you know, even
into the evening hours. Heat sensing among other technology. So they`re
optimistic, they`re hopeful that they have the second suspect somewhere in
this vicinity. They are calling in lots of reinforcements and have this
perimeter secure, and they`re going to try to make it more secure in case
he is, in fact, in this limited area, how big an area, I don`t know. I
just know they`re bringing in a lot of law enforcement now.
HAYES: They`re bringing in law reinforcements and they think they have a
bead on, broadly some square acreage of area in which Mr. Sweat is.
DIENST: That`s their hope. That is their goal. Obviously, they have one
down which gives them the added, you know, leads and a possible sighting.
DIENST: By not a witness but by law enforcement official who thought he
saw something in that wooded area. So they`re really honing in in this
search area and perhaps we`ll hear of some developments in the next hour,
two hours, as we heard from John Yang, Governor Cuomo`s people on site now.
So perhaps we`ll get an update, you know, later this evening officially
from the governor`s office.
HAYES: We are hearing the Governor will be speaking at 8:30 tonight.
We`ll be back in just a moment with more of our breaking news coverage on
HAYES: So we had just gotten word a few minutes ago that Governor Cuomo
will be holding a news conference tonight at 8:30 on the search for that
second escaped prisoner and presumably the Governor will be giving an
update perhaps on some new information, perhaps even confirmation, official
confirmation that Richard Matt was shot and killed. That is what we have
been told by law enforcement. They believe they have Richard Matt. Hard
confirmation obviously coming with some kind of DNA evidence, but we are
presuming that there will be some more information given by the Governor
tonight at 8:30.
As of this hour, David Sweat, as far as we know, remains at large.
Jonathan Dienst just reporting that law enforcement has set up a perimeter
around the Lake Titus region that`s near Malone, New York, about 35 miles
through very thicketed woods from the Clinton Correctional Facility where
those two individuals were able to break out. I believe it was 22 days
ago, if I`m not mistaken.
Joining me now on the phone is Eugene O`Donnell, professor of Law and
Police Study at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. And does this feel
like the endgame to you for David Sweat, Eugene?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE (on the phone): It
does. It`s real important though that the law enforcement people not rush
anything. It`s important that civilians be kept out of the area because
that`s a possible bad ending. If this guy encounters any civilians. So
clear the area of law enforcement people, establish a perimeter, don`t
rush in unnecessarily, maintain firearms discipline, and to the greatest
extent possible if the guy can be taken without violent incident, that`s
what law enforcement should do here.
HAYES: Yes, and obviously just sheer amount of manpower and womanpower is
key under these circumstances with the amount of terrain there is to cover.
This sort of densely wooded nature of that terrain. And the fact that we
are starting to come up pretty soon against sundown. That presumably the
reason that we`ve been seeing Stephanie Gosk reported huge amounts of law
enforcement vehicles rushing into the area.
O`DONNELL: Right. Obviously, they have equipment that allows them to work
through the night. But this is, you know, this is -- I`m not exactly sure
of that particular area, but we haven`t thought about wilderness area,
forested area, very difficult area for law enforcement to navigate. Again,
there is no rush here. And you can make mistakes by rushing and
misjudgments can be made. And the other thing they have to make sure is
this firearms discipline, there`s no friendly fire incidents. They really
need to keep control. And it`s hard with these many different agencies,
these federal local agencies working.
HAYES: All right. Yes. Well, sorry, Eugene. We will be back in just a
moment with more of our breaking news coverage on this manhunt.
HAYES: To recap what we know, at this hour. Richard Matt is shot and
killed by law enforcement. We believe hard conformation of that still to
come. But law enforcement says, they have found him. David Sweat remains
at large, but there is a belief by law enforcement he is close. Coverage
"HARDBALL" with Steve Kornacki is next.
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