Pennsylvania police ambush suspect believed hiding in remote woods

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2014 4:41 PM

By Joe McDonald

BLOOMING GROVE Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said on Monday that police believed the survivalist suspected of killing a state trooper and wounding another was still hiding in a remote part of the Pocono Mountains, as an intensive manhunt entered its 11th day.

Hundreds of heavily armed troopers were combing the forests of northeastern Pennsylvania for Eric Matthew Frein, 31, who police say ambushed the officers in the parking lot of a state police barracks in Blooming Grove.

Corbett said the search had been slowed by the dense woods and rugged terrain but that it was just a matter of time before Frein was apprehended.

"The troopers are out there, the FBI is out there very actively," Corbett told a news conference. "I'm confident we should be able to apprehend this individual."

State police have had reports that Frein, now on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list, was seen near the northern edge of Monroe County, close to where the borders of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey converge.

Frein, described as an expert marksman and "very dangerous," spent months or even years planning his attack and escape, state police have said.

Since the shooting late on Sept. 12, local residents have had to live with the near-militarization of the area, where road closures and heavily armed SWAT teams in assault vehicles have become common sights.

Corbett, trying to allay public fears, said that state police, not civilians, were the suspect's target.

The night of the shooting, Corbett said, the gunman could have shot a civilian who was at the scene but chose instead to kill Corporal Bryon Dickson, 38, and critically injure Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, who remains hospitalized.

Frein is a member of a Cold War re-enactment group that stages mock battles dressed in Eastern European military uniforms, according to state police. The suspect, who lived with his parents in Canadensis, Pennsylvania, has apparently taken on the persona of the Serbian soldier whose role he plays, they say.

Search teams found an AK-47 assault rifle, two magazines and other equipment dropped or stashed about 2 or 3 miles from the shooting scene. The weapon was not the one used in the attack on the troopers.

(Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Peter Cooney)