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Prison Escape Drama Ends With One Cop and Two Shots

A lone state trooper came face to face with the remaining prison escapee and took him down in rain-soaked fields just miles from the Canadian border.
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With more than 1,300 officers fanned out across northern New York's dense forest hunting for the remaining escapee who broke out of a maximum-security prison, a state trooper, alone in his car, spotted a jogger near a rain-soaked field two miles from the Canadian border.

"Hey, come over here," Sgt. Jay Cook, a 21-year veteran, called to the man, according to an account by New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico.

The jogger ignored him. Cook called out again.

When the jogger turned around, Cook realized he was face to face with David Sweat, the fugitive convicted killer who made a brazen escape from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6 along with Richard Matt, who was shot and killed Friday by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. Sweat broke into a run.

Cook chased Sweat into a hay field and fired two shots from his handgun before Sweat, dressed in camouflage pants, could slip into the thick terrain. Sweat was shot twice in the torso, handcuffed and airlifted to a hospital.

Sgt. Jay Cook, who shot and captured fugitive David Sweat on Sunday in upstate New York.New York State Police File

New details about the escape emerged Monday. From his hospital room in Albany, Sweat told officials the two convicts planned to go to Mexico, but had to improvise and head toward Canada instead when their getaway car failed to show, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

RELATED: David Sweat Tells Officials Plan Was to Go to Mexico

Sunday afternoon's dramatic end to the massive manhunt took place in Constable, a town of about 1,500 people some 40 miles from the prison, on the edge of land belonging to an Amish dairy farmer.

"I never dreamed it would be this close," Verba Bontrager, the farmer, told the Buffalo News Post.

RELATED: Sergeant Who Shot David Sweat Hailed as a Hero

With the chase over, authorities now turn their focus to a different challenge: pumping information out of Sweat on how he and Matt managed to pull off their elaborate escape from the maximum-security prison.

Sweat, 35, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Monday morning.

The men used power tools to carve their way out of the Dannemora prison, sawing their way through a cell wall and steam pipes before popping out of a manhole to freedom. Two prison employees — seamstress Joyce Mitchell and guard Gene Palmer — have been accused of helping them, by allegedly smuggling saw blades into the prison inside frozen hamburger meat.

"The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell's vehicle," Cuomo said Monday. "They would kill Mitchell's husband, then get the car and drive to Mexico on the theory that Mitchell was in love with one or both of them."

Police have said Mitchell checked herself into a hospital on the day of the escape with a "case of nerves."

"When Mitchell doesn't show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled," Cuomo said.

Palmer, 57, is due in court Monday. His attorney says he wasn't aware that there were blades, a drill bit and a screwdriver in the meat.

RELATED: Richard Matt Died of Three Shots to the Head, Autopsy Results Show

Sweat will be charged with escape and burglary, among other charges.

His partner-in-crime, Matt, was killed Friday by the nearby town of Malone when a camper found a bullet hole in a trailer. A tactical team closed in on Matt, who had a 20-gauge shotgun, and shot him three times in the head, according to an autopsy. A coroner said he was well-fed and well-dressed.

Cuomo called Sgt. Cook, a father of two, a hero in a Sunday evening press conference.

"The nightmare is finally over," he said. "These were really dangerous, dangerous men."