Authorities in New York state have launched a manhunt for two prisoners who broke out of maximum security at the Clinton Correctional Facility — the first escape from there in its history.
New York State Police posted pictures of the escapees, Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, on Facebook Saturday morning, asking the public to be on the alert and wary.
"Both are considered to be a danger to the public. If located DO NOT approach them," the posting said.
Sweat is serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff’s deputy, while Matt is serving a sentence of 25 years to life for murder, kidnapping and robbery.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had been scheduled to attend Saturday's Belmont Stakes in Elmont, instead spoke to reporters at the prison in Dannemora. He said the prisoners, in adjoining cells, used power tools to drill through the back wall and crawl through the opening Friday night.
Authorities said the men left clothing in their beds to make it look as if they were asleep and to fool the guards who checked on them every two hours. The guards did not discover the escape until 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
The prisoners scaled a catwalk and used power tools to drill through metal walls and a steam pipe, which took them to a series of interior tunnels. They emerged in the open air through a manhole cover in the street, Cuomo said.
"This is the first escape from the maximum security portion of the institution ever since 1865," the governor said. "So by definition, it was an extraordinary act." He posted pictures on his Twitter page of the escape route the two prisoners took.
While asking New Yorkers for help, the governor added a note of caution. "They are nothing to be trifled with." He also said, " If you see them, if you know anything, if you've heard anything, please contact the state police or your local police as soon as possible."
More than 200 law enforcement personnel were involved in the manhunt, as well as canine units and helicopters.