The authorities encountered Mr. Matt after the inmate, who was on foot, tried to carjack a camper vehicle near Malone, N.Y., a third person with knowledge of the situation said. The driver sped away and called 911, and law enforcement officers responded.
There was a report of a second episode of gunfire as officers pursued David Sweat, the other inmate. The officers did not see Mr. Sweat, but they heard him running. His whereabouts was unclear.
“They don’t have eyes on the guy, but they have a three-mile perimeter around the area,” the third person with knowledge of the situation said.
Mr. Matt’s killing marked a violent conclusion to one prong of a manhunt that spread over large parts of the state, and exposed just how haphazard the inmates’ escape had apparently become over the course of their time at large.
For all the intricate planning that allowed them to break out of their cells at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., the killers in the end made it only about 40 miles from prison’s imposing walls, moving between remote hunting cabins under the cover of dense woods.
The attempted carjacking ended a brutal criminal career for Mr. Matt, who also escaped from an Erie County jail in 1986.
The New York State Police said in a statement on Friday that a law enforcement officer “spotted a man in a wooded area” in Malone. An officer then “shot and killed a man believed to be Clinton Correctional Facility escapee Richard Matt,” the statement said.
“A positive identification is still pending,” it said.
Roadblocks set up on Friday evening near Lake Titus, in the town of Malone, kept residents and reporters away from what appeared to be tense law enforcement activity in the woods. Shortly after 5 p.m., a dozen state troopers with firearms stood 50 feet apart along Fayette Road near Route 30, just north of Lake Titus in Malone. They stared intently into the woods flanking the dirt road on the south, guns drawn. “The dogs are out,” one trooper said.