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2 Pennsylvania school districts cancel classes after a man escaped from prison

This photo provided by the Chester County Prison shows Danelo Cavalcante. Cavalcante, convicted this month of fatally stabbing his girlfriend escaped Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 from the suburban Philadelphia prison and prosecutors say he is also wanted in his native Brazil in a separate slaying. (Chester County Prison via AP)
Chester County Prison via AP
This photo provided by the Chester County Prison shows Danelo Cavalcante. Cavalcante, convicted this month of fatally stabbing his girlfriend escaped Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 from the suburban Philadelphia prison and prosecutors say he is also wanted in his native Brazil in a separate slaying. (Chester County Prison via AP)

Schools and businesses have temporarily shut down after a convicted murderer escaped from a Pennsylvania prison and was seen on the run in the area.

Danelo Cavalcante, 34, escaped from the Chester County Prison, about 30 miles from Philadelphia, last Thursday and has since been spotted six times. He was last seen on a trail camera with a duffel bag and a hoodie at Longwood Gardens, about three miles away from the prison, on Monday night at 8:21 p.m. and again at 9:33 p.m., Pennsylvania State Police said.

Early Tuesday morning, Longwood Gardens alerted police of the footage. Police confirmed it was Cavalcante, and Longwood Gardens closed its facilities Tuesday and Wednesday, the Chester County District Attorney said.

As a result, two nearby school districts — The Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) and the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCSFD) — canceled classes.

In addition to classes, KCSD also canceled school activities Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We are continuing to meet and work with the Pennsylvania State Police, Chester County Emergency Services, and the District Attorney's office to get updates and determine the best and safest way to open schools outside the search perimeter that will allow access for all of our students as soon as possible," the district said.

UCFSD also closed its schools and offices Tuesday and had a flexible instruction day.

Since the manhunt began, state police have expanded their search radius, according to George Bivens, the deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police, at a press conference Tuesday.

"We squeezed him hard enough over the period of a few days, and he was not able to get any relief, and managed to find a place to get out," Bivens said. "Obviously, I wish we would have been able to capture him without him getting through that perimeter, but it is also not shocking. It's dark, it's a large area and not to make excuses – it's just difficult terrain."

The investigation into how Cavalcante escaped the Chester County Prison is ongoing, George Bivens, the deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police, said at a Tuesday press conference.

The district attorney's office said hundreds of law enforcement officers have been dispatched to help locate Cavalcante, using drones, helicopters and K-9s. It advised people in the area to lock their doors and monitor their cars and other surroundings.

Bivens said law enforcement have received about 100 tip calls on Cavalcante's whereabouts.

Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison last month for killing his ex-girlfriend, according to The Associated Press.

There is a federal warrant out for Cavalcante's arrest. Pennsylvania State Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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