(NewsNation) — Danelo Cavalcante was spotted stealing a gun from a Chester County, Pennsylvania, home Monday night, leading police to warn residents the man they’ve been searching for since last month is likely now armed.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that Cavalcante entered an open garage, stole a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition and fled when the homeowner drew a pistol and shot at him.
However, the homeowner missed. Cavalcante was described as being shirtless wearing blue pants during the encounter, according to a recording of the dispatch call.
NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield confirmed Tuesday night that the rifle Cavalcante was seen with has a “sawed-off” barrel.
“It changes the dynamics of the search and his ability,” Former U.S. Marshal John Muffler told “Banfield.” … “It gives Cavalcante the ability to maneuver a little easier, and the velocity will be definitely diminished, if the trigger is pulled.”
Pennsylvania State Police posted early Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Cavalcante “is armed” and they are pursuing him in Chester County. Police also sent out reverse 911 notifications at 2 a.m. and 6:21 a.m. ET to residents alerting them Cavalcante has a weapon.
There was another sighting of Cavalcante in the past 24 hours as well. A woman driving says she saw him along the side of the road. When she turned around to double-check to make sure it was actually Cavalcante, though, he had already run away, the woman said.
Search teams who arrived to investigate found muddy footprints identical to the prison shoes Cavalcante has been wearing.
Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown announced that schools would be closed Tuesday due to “increased police activity” in the community.
“The safety and security of our students and staff remain our top priority. We know that this situation is stressful and upsetting for our entire community,” Superintendent Will Stout said in a statement.
Top state and federal officials have been searching for the escaped murderer. Hundreds of personnel were taking part in the search of the southeastern Philadelphia suburbs, including tactical teams in full combat gear, tracking dogs, and officers on horseback as well as aircraft.
Cavalcante slipped out of an 8-square-mile search area over the weekend, stole a dairy delivery van that had been left unlocked with the keys in it, and drove it until it practically ran out of gas.
He abandoned the vehicle in a field behind a barn more than 20 miles north of the search area, after unsuccessfully seeking help at the homes of two former colleagues late Saturday, police said.
One homeowner, who was at dinner with his family, spoke with Cavalcante through his doorbell camera and called police after returning home and reviewing the video. The other wasn’t home when Cavalcante went to her home, but another female resident alerted her, police said.
Both called local police first, who then contacted state police around about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Bivens said.
Cavalcante is desperate because he is reaching out for help from people with whom he hasn’t spoken in years, Bivens said.
“The fact that he has reached out to people with a very distant past connection tells me he doesn’t have a great network of support,” Bivens said. “So I think he’s desperate and I’ve characterized him as that all along. And I think the longer we push him, the more resources, the more tools we bring to bear, we will ultimately capture him. He doesn’t have what he needs to last long-term.”
Cavalcante has eluded capture since Aug. 31, when he broke out of the Chester County Prison while awaiting transfer to a different lockup. He had been sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021, allegedly to stop her from telling police that he’s wanted in a slaying in his home country of Brazil.
To escape, Cavalcante scaled a wall by crab-walking up from the recreation yard, climbed over razor wire, ran across a roof and jumped to the ground. His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a headcount. The tower guard on duty was fired, officials said.
In Brazil, prosecutors in Tocantins state said Cavalcante is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 slaying of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in Figueirópolis, which they said was over a debt the victim owed him for repairing a vehicle.
U.S. authorities describe Cavalcante as extremely dangerous. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.