A convicted murderer on the run after breaking out of prison was shot at by a homeowner who found him in his garage stealing a rifle, US authorities said.
Hundreds of state and local police along with federal agents are searching for 34-year-old Brazilian Danelo Cavalcante following his escape from Chester County Prison in Pennsylvania on 31 August.
Police say they are closing in on the “desperate” and “dangerous” fugitive, who has armed himself with the rifle with a scope and torch attached.
Overnight into Tuesday, Cavalcante grabbed the .22-calibre firearm before he fled as the property owner fired several shots at him with a pistol in Chester County.
Authorities have set up a six square mile (16 square kilometre) perimeter around the home in a wooded, hilly area where they believe Cavalcante still is.
The fugitive has disposed of a sweatshirt he was seen wearing on CCTV cameras and he is now believed to be shirtless, police say.
Residents of South Coventry have locked themselves in their houses and at least one school district has cancelled lessons.
Pennsylvania State Police said they were pursuing him in the Philadelphia suburb, about 20 miles north of the Chester County Prison.
Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens said: “We consider him desperate. We consider him dangerous.”
“He is desperate enough to use that weapon.”
Cavalcante escaped by crab-walking up a wall from the recreation yard, climbing over razor wire, running across a roof and jumping to the ground.
His escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a head count. The tower guard on duty was sacked, officials said.
Police have warned people not to approach Cavalcante, but to call 911 if they see him.
On Monday, state and federal officials rejected allegations they had blown their chances of catching Cavalcante, saying the area where hundreds had been searching included deep woods, underground tunnels and drainage ditches.
They also said it took more than two hours for news to reach them that he had been spotted outside the perimeter for the first time.
Cavalcante slipped out of an eight-square-mile search area over the weekend and stole a dairy delivery van that had been left unlocked with the keys in it.
He abandoned it more than 20 miles north of the search area after unsuccessfully seeking help at the homes of two former colleagues late on Saturday, police said.
Mr Bivens declined to say how he believes the fugitive slipped through the perimeter adding that no perimeter is completely secure.
“The fact that he has reached out to people with a very distant past connection tells me he doesn’t have a great network of support,” Mr Bivens said.
“I think the longer we push him, the more resources, the more tools we bring to bear, we will ultimately capture him. He doesn’t have what he needs to last long-term.”
Cavalcante broke out of the Chester County Prison while awaiting transfer to a state prison to serve a life sentence for fatally stabbing an ex-girlfriend in 2021.
Prosecutors say he killed her to stop her from telling police that he was wanted over murders in his home country of Brazil.
In Brazil, he is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 killing of Valter Junior Moreira dos Reis in the municipality of Figueiropolis, over a debt the victim owed him for repairing a vehicle.