SOFREP interviewed the U.S. Border Patrol team leader who shot New York State escapee/killer Richard Matt when the inmate pointed a 20-gauge shotgun at the agent in a wooded upper New York State area.

In one of the first detailed interviews about that confrontation, U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Chris Voss, an eight-year service veteran, told SOFREP about that deadly encounter with convicted murderer Matt on June 26, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border near Elephant’s Head, New York.

Voss is the team leader of two low-profile, highly trained elite Border Patrol fire teams assigned to the Border Patrol’s Tactical Unit (BORTAC). The many missions that BORTAC teams pull vary from serving high-risk arrest warrants to addressing high-risk barricaded hostage situations, high-risk rural interdictions, and those missions requiring human-tracking skills.

The drama that lead to Voss shooting Matt began on June 6 when convicted murderers/inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.

As the highly publicized search for the escapees continued to draw national attention, law enforcement officials realized the convicted criminals were trying to reach the Canadian border. On Father’s Day, June 21, DNA analysis and a hot tip refocused the investigation into the wooded area along Highway 30, about 20 miles south of Canada.

BORTAC had originally deployed to New York on June 10, 2015. BORTAC returned to El Paso on June 19 after the trail went cold. “When the DNA results came up positive, we headed back to New York,” said Special Operations Supervisor (SOS) Greg Lairmore, the BORTAC section leader. Voss and his fire teams report to Lairmore, who oversees the teams’ deployments, specific targets, mission planning, and training. On missions such as the Matt/Sweat manhunt, he coordinates BORTAC missions; Office of Air and Marine air assets; and mission plans with federal, state, and local tactical teams and law enforcement agencies working in the search.

A CBP officer looks on at the 100 percent outbound inspection taking place at the Area Port of Champlain on June 15. Photographer: Kristoffer Grogan.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Air and Marine (OAM) dedicated multiple fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and flight crews to the search. They supported BORTAC, enabling them to conduct missions as a quick reaction force (QRF). After numerous missions, the OAM Blackhawk that was serving as the primary air asset to insert and extract the BORTAC teams was grounded following a maintenance issue. The Office of Air and Marine, understanding that an aerial response to any event would be crucial, immediately retrofitted their two A-Star helicopters by taking the doors off and taking out the seats to maintain the aerial response capability of BORTAC. The New York State Police provided BORTAC with a Huey to insert additional BORTAC personnel.

The U.S. Border Patrol is known within law enforcement circles as having the best human trackers. BORTAC brings this skill along with a specialty in rural interdictions to missions such as the Matt/Sweat hunts. Additionally, Border Patrol has a great relationship with the New York State Patrol (NYSP) in Swanton Sector. When Border Patrol received a support request from NYSP, they supported with the Swanton Sector Special Operations Detachment (A regional, local sector-based BORTAC team) as well as sending a team from the national BORTAC team based out of El Paso, Texas—Lairmore’s and Voss’ team)