A school district in southeastern Pennsylvania announced that all of its schools and offices will be closed as Danelo Cavalcante, who remains on the run after he escaped from prison nearly two weeks ago, is now armed, according to police.
The superintendent of the Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown said “As a result of increased police activity in our community related to the pursuit of an escaped inmate from Chester County Prison, and after consultation with state and local law enforcement, we have made the decision to close all schools and offices in our district today.”
“The safety and security of our students and staff remains our top priority. We know that this situation is stressful and upsetting for our entire community,” added superintendent Will Stout. “We thank you once again for your patience, support and understanding throughout the past several days. Please be assured that we are in regular contact with the Pennsylvania State Police, Chester County Emergency Services and local law enforcement.”
Authorities early Tuesday are urging residents not to approach Cavalcante and to instead call 911 if they see him.
During a news conference, Pennsylvania State Police said Cavalcante, 34, ditched his neon green sweatshirt, white t-shirt and his prison sneakers. He then stole a pair of work boots from a porch and a .22 caliber rifle from a resident’s garage in the area of Ridge Road, Coventryville Road and Daisy Point Road in South Coventry Townpoint in Chester County.
“We will actively hunt until we find him,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.
Police on social media urged residents in the area should “lock all doors and windows, secure vehicles, and remain indoors.”
The update came hours after dozens of police vehicles responded to a call of a break-in and shots fired in East Nantmeal, the area where Cavalcante was thought to be hiding.
A source from the state police told Fox News late night that a homeowner shot at Cavalcante as he was attempting to steal a rifle. FOX 29 Philadelphia reported later that the homeowner fired seven times at the escaped killer after he stole the rifle, which police said has a scope and flashlight mounted on it.
Officials said authorities have no reason to believe the escaped inmate was injured in the shooting.
Hundreds of officers have been searching for Cavalcante since he escaped on August 31 in the area near Chester County Prison. He was in prison for his first-degree murder conviction in the death of an ex-girlfriend in 2021.
While Cavalcante was able to evade a law enforcement perimeter for 12 days, authorities said he continues to take risky measures, including contacting former co-workers.
“I believe that his actions show that he’s desperate,” Bivens said Monday. “I believe there was an opportunity to escape. I don’t think there was a lot of planning that went into that. Now he finds himself on the run.”
“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,” he added.
Bivens said Sunday that Cavalcante slipped through a tightly guarded police perimeter around the Longwood Gardens botanical park, changed his appearance and stole a van on a dairy farm. He drove more than 20 miles to East Pikeland Township and Phoenixville, where he sought help from two former co-workers.
Cavalcante was seen clean-shaven on a doorbell camera wearing a yellow or green hoodie, a black baseball cap, green prison pants and white shoes, according to state police.
Officials announced Friday that a prison guard on duty when Cavalcante was seen on surveillance video escaping the exercise yard had been fired.
Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. He is also wanted for homicide in his home country of Brazil.
Brazilian prosecutors in Tocantins state say Cavalcante is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 killing of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in Figueirópolis over a debt the victim owed him in connection with the repair of a vehicle.