A Pennsylvania man described the chilling “panic moment” when he believed a convicted murderer may have been hiding out in his home after escaping from a nearby prison.
The community around Chester County Prison in Pocopson Township remained on edge as the manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante, 34, entered its sixth day on Tuesday. Police have not said how he escaped from the prison.
Authorities said there have been four confirmed sightings of the 5-foot, 120-pound fugitive in the area, including a shot of him caught on a doorbell camera.
Ryan Drummond, who lives near a heavily wooded area where police think Cavalcante may be hiding out, believes the fugitive used his home to stay out of sight.
“The only thing I had to defend myself was a picture frame,” Drummond told NBC News correspondent George Solis on TODAY.
Drummond said he saw an intruder in his house and flickered the lights to show the the man he knew someone was there.
“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 he watched the man leave his house.
“It was like a moment of disbelief,” Drummond said. “Yes, my heart was beating fast.”
Cavalcante was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted on Aug. 16 of stabbing his former girlfriend to death. Authorities said he’s also wanted for a 2017 homicide in his native Brazil.
The Pennsylvania State Police have taken over direction of the manhunt.
“I want to push him hard,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference. “He’ll make mistakes.”
Cavalcante was spotted by law enforcement over the weekend, he but escaped.
“It was a trooper actually that observed him at some distance, gave chase, but was unable because of the terrain and some other obstacles to get to him,” Bivens said at the news conference.
Police have been blaring audio recordings from choppers and patrol cars of Cavalcante’s mother speaking in Portuguese pleading for him to turn himself in.
Authorities are also offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the fugitive’s capture, while warning local residents to remain vigilant.
“We’re just scared, paranoid,” one local woman told Solis on TODAY from her car. “We’re ready for it to be over.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com