New York prison escape: Sgt. Jay Cook hailed as hero for shooting fugitive

New York State Police Sgt Jay Cook, shown here in a police Facebook post from last year, shot and injured Clinton Correctional Facility escapee David Sweat Sunday afternoon. Police say Cook spotted Sweat jogging alongside a road in Constable, New York.

Story highlights

  • Mother: "He just happened to be in the right place at the right time"
  • Police say Sgt. Jay Cook spotted, shot and helped capture escaped inmate David Sweat
  • Superintendent: "He did a very courageous and brave act of policing"

(CNN)Sgt. Jay Cook knows the densely forested terrain of upstate New York. He's spent most of his career patrolling in the region.

That's what the New York State Police sergeant was doing Sunday afternoon when he spotted prison escapee David Sweat jogging along the side of a road less than two miles from the Canadian border.
It wasn't long, police said, before Cook sprang into action, chasing Sweat on foot and opening fire just as he seemed about to slip away into the woods.
"He realized that Sweat was going to make it to a tree line and could have possibly disappeared," New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico told reporters, praising the police sergeant for his quick thinking that led to Sweat's capture.
"He did an excellent job," D'Amico said. "I think he did a very courageous and brave act of policing."
Cook, a 21-year veteran of the force who spent most of his career based in Malone, New York, was alone when he spotted Sweat, D'Amico said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said called the sergeant to congratulate him on his "great police work" Sunday. Speaking to reporters Sunday evening, the governor described the conversation.
"I said to Sgt. Cook, who has two daughters, 16 and 17, I said, 'Well, you go home tonight and tell your daughters that you're a hero,' " Cuomo said. "With teenage girls, that'll probably last a good 24 hours, and then you'll just go back to being a regular dad."
For Cook's family, Sunday was a "very emotional day," his mother said, telling the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh that she was proud her son's knowledge of the area had paid off and relieved that no one else got hurt.
"He's not used to being shoved into the spotlight like this. ... He just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Judy Cook told the newspaper. "He's very sharp. ... It's just so surreal that this happened, but we are extremely proud of him."