Police have finally captured a murderous fugitive, who spent nearly two weeks on the run, with the help of a heroic police dog.
Danelo Cavalcante, 34, was apprehended last week after escaping from a Pennsylvania prison and going on the run, thanks to the heroic actions of a police dog named Yoda.
Lt. Col. George Bivens announced at a press conference that Cavalcante was bitten by the dog as he tried to escape a tactical team.
Yoda, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, was originally part of the BORTAC K9 unit with the U.S. Border and Customs Patrol.
The dog initially bit the fugitive’s scalp, which left his face dripping with blood, then latched onto his thigh without letting go, which caused Cavalcante to surrender, possibly due to the “excruciating pain.”
Cavalcante was unable to use the stolen firearm he had obtained from a local garage he robbed on Monday night, and no shots were fired when cops cornered him while he was trying to crawl through the bushes in Chester County on Wednesday morning.
The tactical team chose not to use lethal force, as their goal was to contain Cavalcante, not put him down if it could be avoided.
Bivens emphasized the crucial role of police K-9 dogs in subduing targets, noting that they are trained to attack once and only release their targets on command.
K-9’s like Yoda are trained to trace and follow human scents from the time they are puppies, and work for up to nine years before retiring, often at the homes of their lifelong handlers.
The dog’s calm and social disposition, aptitude for learning and sharp focus, along with his ability to work with multiple handlers, is why he was selected as part of the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force in Philadelphia.
“Not every dog is going to be able to work with a tactical team,” noted Bob Dougherty, a local law enforcement K-9 training director. “Not all dogs will end up being a Yoda.”
Cavalcante sang like a canary after he was taken into police custody, and explained that he had planned to flee to Canada in a stolen car in the the upcoming day, which is why he stole the rifle.
The 34-year-old, who was in the country illegally, had escaped from Chester County Prison, where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend.
During his time on the run, he survived by stealing watermelon from a farm, drinking from a stream, and burying his feces to remain undetected by police.
He revealed that he only moved at night and hid during the day under thick underbrush.
As officers surrounded him on Wednesday morning, Cavalcante attempted to escape once again, crawling through underbrush with the stolen rifle, until Yoda attacked him and he was apprehended by a group of around 25 police officers.
Once in custody, he was then transported to a nearby state police barracks in an armored vehicle, accompanied by a convoy of vehicles and police helicopters for good measure.
Cavalcante now faces charges for his escape and will be held at the maximum-security SCI Phoenix prison to complete his life sentence.
Additional charges related to crimes committed while on the run are expected to be filed soon.