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Pennsylvania homeowner shoots at escaped inmate after finding him stealing rifle from garage

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, who was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death, escaped from Chester County Prison on Aug. 31. Here's everything to know about the manunt for him so far.

A Pennsylvania homeowner shot at an escaped murderer Monday night after the person found him stealing a rifle from his garage, but the killer managed to flee with the weapon unharmed, police said.

The encounter on Sept. 11 marked the latest harrowing sighting of Danelo Cavalcante, 34, who has been the subject of a manhunt by law enforcement stretching nearly two weeks after he escaped Chester County Prison on Aug. 31.

"At 10:10 p.m. a call was received from a resident on Coventryville Road indicating a short Hispanic male, no shirt and wearing dark pants, had entered his garage while the homeowner was in it and that he grabbed a .22 rifle that was leaning in the corner of the garage,” Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said on Sept. 12 at a morning news briefing.

Police said the intruder is believed to be Cavalcante. The homeowner fired at Cavalcante, but he fled with the rifle and was believed to be unharmed, Bivens said.

A green sweatshirt and white T-shirt were found near the driveway at the scene, Bivens said.

Cavalcante had been spotted on a doorbell camera in nearby Phoenixville on Sept. 9 wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, police said. He also appeared to have altered his appearance by shaving off his facial hair, police said.

Authorities confirmed on Sept. 7 that Cavalcante had been spotted for a second time in a week near the wooded area of Longwood Gardens, a botanical garden normally open to the public that has been closed due to the search. He was seen on trail cameras on Sept. 4 and then spotted again on Sept. 7, authorities said.

Here's what to know about Cavalcante's background and his escape, as well as the status of the manhunt.

What was Danelo Cavalcante convicted of?

The native Brazilian was sentenced to life in prison without parole for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in front of her children.

He was convicted of first-degree murder on Aug. 16, just 15 days before he escaped from Chester County Prison. He is also wanted for a homicide in Brazil, police said.

Sarah Brandão, whose sister Deborah Brandão was fatally stabbed by Cavalcante in 2021, has spoken out about his escape.

Danelo Cavalcante
A wanted poster issued for Danelo Cavalcante.@chescoda via X

"He's a monster," she told NBC News correspondent George Solis on TODAY. "What he did with my sister is not human."

Officials said on Sept. 7 that Brandão's family has been "barricaded" in their home under 24-hour police protection with Cavalcante still at large. Sarah Brandão said her family has been living in constant fear.

"Here in my backyard. Inside my house. I’m scared all the time," she said.

How did Danelo Cavalcante escape from prison?

Prison officials released surveillance video on Sept. 6 that showed Cavalcante stretching horizontally between two walls in broad daylight and walking himself up to the roof in a hallway just off the exercise yard at Chester County Prison.

The 5-foot-tall, 120-pound inmate then managed to wriggle through barbed wire on the roof to escape, authorities said.

Another inmate, Igor Bolte, also escaped from the same area of the prison yard on May 19 by scaling the walls, prison officials said. Bolte was immediately captured that morning after being found in a residential neighborhood in Pocopson Township, officials said.

Following Bolte's escape, the prison installed the razor wire, but it was not able to stop Cavalcante, whose absence was not noted by guards for almost an hour. The officer stationed in the guard tower at the time of the escape has been fired, according to the county’s acting warden.

Where does the hunt stand now?

More than 200 law enforcement officers have been combing the area for days on foot and with helicopters.

The Pennsylvania State Police said in a statement on Sept. 11 that they have been pursuing Cavalcante in South Coventry Township in Chester County, which is about 30 miles outside Philadelphia.

Authorities previously reported on Sept. 10 that they found an abandoned white van with a refrigeration unit on top that they believe was stolen by Cavalcante.

In the early days of the manhunt, enforcement officers were even blaring from patrol cars and choppers a recording of Cavalcante’s mother speaking in his native Portuguese and pleading for him to turn himself in.

Officials at Longwood Gardens sent an alert on Sept. 7 that "the subject has been spotted in our area" and later said the botanical gardens were closed to the public as a result of the search.

"We want to end this as soon as possible," Bivens said at a news conference. "We'll throw every possible resource at it to do it."

Some local roads have been closed and police have been making frequent vehicle stops in their search for Cavalcante.

There have been multiple sightings of the fugitive in the area since his escape.

One local resident, Ryan Drummond, told TODAY on Sept. 5 that he believes he saw Cavalcante hiding out in his home and flickered the lights to let the intruder know he was aware of his presence.

“And then he flipped the light switch back a few times, which was the real panic moment,” Drummond said.

Drummond and his wife called 911, and Drummond said the man fled.

“It was like a moment of disbelief,” Drummond said.

Residents of the normally quiet neighborhood have been on edge with Cavalcante still at large.

"There’s a lot of woods," resident Joe Del Grippo told Solis on TODAY. "There’s a lot of places to hide. But I’m very, very surprised and kind of disappointed that they haven’t caught him by now."