More than 200 officers from numerous law enforcement agencies were monitoring checkpoints and searching mountainous upstate New York terrain Sunday in hopes of catching two convicted murderers who executed an elaborate escape from a maximum security prison the day before.
The stunning breakout was the first for the maximum security portion of Clinton Correctional Facility since the Dannemora, New York, prison opened 150 years ago.
Richard Matt, 48, who killed and dismembered his boss in 1997, and David Sweat, 34, who killed a sheriff’s deputy in 2002, used power tools to gain access to catwalks, then a series of pipes and tunnels, which led to a manhole a block away from the prison, according to authorities.
“There’s no doubt that it was an extraordinary act,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
Questions about where the inmates acquired the power tools have yet to be answered as all of the prison’s tools have been accounted for.
Cuomo said Matt and Sweat had to have made quite the audible exit as they cut through steel and shimmied through pipes. “They were heard, they had to be heard,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sunday.
But guards were unaware of their escape until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Cuomo, who said the inmates left objects in their beds to make it look like people were sleeping inside the cells.
They also left behind a taunting note with an offensive caricature and the message: “Have a nice day!”
While Canada’s border is less than 25 miles north of the prison, residents in the neighborhood surrounding the prison told NBC News that they are on edge Sunday morning.
More than 200 local, state and federal officials are on the hunt for the inmates, according to NBC affiliate WPTZ. Bloodhounds and three helicopters are being used in the search.
Cuomo urged people who see anything suspicious to contact authorities immediately and avoid approaching the “dangerous” escapees. “We want to make sure that they don’t inflict any more pain or any more harm on any more New Yorkers,” he said during a news conference Saturday.
“It’s not good,” said Phillip Tarsia, the father of Sweat’s victim, Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Tarsia. Tarsia’s brother Steven Tarsia told The Associated Press that the escape of — 13 years after Richard’s death — “turns your world upside-down all over again.”
William Rickerson Jr., whose father was Matt’s victim, told NBC News, “I just hope they catch him.”
Sweat is described as white, 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds with brown hair and green eyes and tattoos on his left bicep and right fingers.
Matt is 6 feet, 210 pounds with black hair and hazel eyes, a “Mexico Forever” tattoo on his back, a heart tattoo on his chest and left shoulder and a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder, state police said.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com