Sgt. Jay Cook, the officer being hailed as a hero for single-handedly stopping prison escapee David Sweat in his tracks, was alone on patrol when he encountered the fugitive 1,300 other officers were looking for, police say. State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico says Cook, a 21-year veteran of the force, was along the perimeter of the manhunt when he spotted Sweat jogging down a country road in Constable, NY, CBS News reports. D'Amico says that after the fugitive ignored an order to stop, Cook chased him on foot and opened fire, hitting him twice, as Sweat approached a tree line, where Cook feared he would lose the escapee. "If Sweat made the tree line, he would have been gone," D'Amico says.
D'Amico believes Sweat was heading for the Canadian border, which was less than 2 miles away. Cook, who's married with two teenage daughters, is apparently a crack shot: He was the top shooter out of 150 state police academy candidates in 1994, the New York Daily News reports. "He's not used to being shoved into the spotlight like this," Cook's mother tells the Plattsburgh Press Republican. "He was a rover today, and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He's very sharp." In other developments:
- Sweat, who was shot twice in the torso, is in critical condition at an Albany hospital, the AP reports. He'll be interviewed extensively by investigators when he recovers, and D'Amico says they've already found one of his tricks for evading capture: pepper to throw dogs off the scent.
- The capture of Sweat, which came soon after the shooting death of escape partner Richard Matt, has brought relief to many residents in a usually quiet part of the state. A woman who lives on a farm in Constable tells the New York Times that troopers came to her house to tell her Sweat had been captured in a nearby field. "I suspected they would come toward Canada," she says. "Every time I walk the dog, I'm always looking down the tracks. But I didn't think it would happen in the field."
- Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole for the murder of Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Tarsia in 2002, and the officer's brother tells WBNG that the inmate deserved the two gunshot wounds. "At least now we'll maybe know what happened," he says. "They'll put him in a pen where he never gets out. He should have been in there in the first place."
- WBNG also spoke to Sweat's mother, who says she had a lot of trouble sleeping during his 23 days on the run. "I always told my kids, 'You do the crime, you do the time,'" she says. "I always had trouble with David when he was growing up."