St. Regis Mohawk tribal authorities are working alongside New York State police in the hunt for escaped convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat, who plotted, hacked and drilled their way out of a maximum-security prison three weeks ago.
Matt was shot dead in Malone, New York, on Friday June 26 after allegedly shooting at a camping RV and refusing to surrender his weapon to police, according to The New York Times and other media. Malone is just 30 miles from the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, which straddles the U.S. and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The New York Times also reported that authorities believe the convicts were headed toward Canada. As of late Friday night, Sweat’s whereabouts were unknown, and he was considered armed and dangerous.
“The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department is notifying Akwesasne residents that the New York State Police are continuing to follow up on credible leads for David Sweat and Richard Matt,” the tribal leadership said in a statement. “This will often entail an increased police presence in the surrounding area, as well as police aircraft being utilized to aid in the search.”
The tribe is also supplying “additional resources and manpower in searching for the two prison escapees in the area of Akwesasne,” the statement said. “They will continue to provide assistance during the duration of the search to ensure that the safety and security of local residents is protected.”
The search area for the escaped inmates is near Akwesasne.
The inmates escaped on June 6 from a maximum-security prison in Dannemora, N.Y., aided by two prison workers who have since been arrested. Prison tailor Joyce Mitchell, 51, has admitted to embedding hacksaw blades and drill bits into frozen hamburger meat, and corrections officer Gene Palmer, 57, stands accused of smuggling the meat in without putting it through a metal detector, according to CNN. He also allegedly lent them his tools.
Palmer is charged with one count of promoting dangerous prison contraband, two counts of destroying evidence and one count of official misconduct, his attorney Andrew Brockway told CNN.
Meanwhile, St. Regis Mohawk police urged members to be on the lookout.
“Akwesasne residents are encouraged to remain vigilant and to exercise caution as they go about their daily activities,” the Mohawk police said. “Be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity or persons you may encounter. If you encounter David Sweat or Richard Matt, please do not make contact and immediately notify law enforcement.”
The news of Mohawk involvement in the manhunt was first broadcast by Akwesasne TV on June 20.