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Friendship tipster thought she saw Richard Matt, David Sweat by railroad

FRIENDSHIP – On Sunday evening, the Friendship resident who started it all described exactly what she saw near her backyard shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday.

Brandy Thompson, 35, of Maple Grove Road, said she was leaving her barn when Charlie, her huge Italian mastiff, not only barked, but growled at something along the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad Tracks behind her house – two men she believed fit the description of the escaped convicts.

“I saw a male with a red scruffy beard and a dark blue hoodie,” she said. “He pulled it up, like he didn’t want to be seen. That’s what made me suspicious.”

She thought he could be David Sweat, one of two convicted killers who escaped two weeks ago from Clinton Correctional Facility.

Then, she spied a companion and thought he might be Richard Matt, the other escaped prisoner. That’s when she dialed 911. State police advised her to lock her doors and alert her neighbors.

Thompson’s Saturday was about to change.

Over the next few hours, she estimated that about 200 law enforcement officers descended on or near her home. At one point, almost 30 vehicles were parked in her yard or on the road.

Thompson said the rail line behind her house is rarely used in recent years, save for an occasional lone locomotive testing the tracks.

And though that could dilute the theory that the escapees hopped a freight while traveling through Allegany County, along with news that forensic evidence confirmed Sunday links the men to an area near the prison, Thompson said she – and police – think she did the right thing.

“They just took down what I saw and did their thing,” she said.

While Charlie was still standing guard Sunday evening, Thompson said she remains extra vigilant.

“Now, I have a loaded .30-06 on the table,” said the Friendship woman. “And it’s not coming unloaded any time soon.”