CANADENSIS, Pa. (AP) — A northeastern Pennsylvania resident said he's been stopped and questioned more than 20 times by authorities who have mistaken him for a man sought in the killing of a state trooper, including one encounter at gunpoint that left him fearing for his life.
James Tully, 39, of Canadensis, said he wears his ID prominently around his neck as he walks to work each day through the wooded area where authorities are looking for Eric Frein. Nevertheless, he said he was once stopped about seven times in a single day.
"I'm worried about what is going to happen with the next one," Tully told the Pocono Record. "Is he going to shoot first and ask questions later?"
Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman, said Thursday the agency will investigate any formal complaint about alleged mistreatment. No such complaint has been filed, Kelly said.
Police have been searching for Frein in the woods around Canadensis since an ambush outside their barracks Sept. 12 left one state trooper dead and another seriously wounded. Authorities describe Frein, who grew up in the area, as a self-taught survivalist and expert marksman who hates law enforcement.
Not many people travel by foot in the rural region, which is filled with winding two-lane roads. Tully, a father of two, said he walks five miles each way to his job at a metal manufacturing company because he doesn't own a car. He carries a backpack, which police believe Frein has also done.
On Oct. 17, Tully said he was walking home when a driver in tactical gear pulled over, pointed a rifle at him and forced him down on the ground, putting a knee in his back. Tully said the man never identified himself, but let him go after another officer appeared and vouched for Tully.
"This guy apparently had delusions of grandeur that he would be the one to catch Frein," said Tully's father, Bob Tully. "We completely commiserate with the police, but this guy went full commando on my son."
James Tully said he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with bruised ribs. He now wears a reflective vest that he hopes will help identify him as someone not trying to hide from police.
"The one they're hunting for, he's not going to stand out. He's going to try and blend in," Tully told WNEP-TV. "I want to stand out so I can let them know ... I'm not the one they're looking for. Just let me go on my way."
A woman created a GoFundMe crowdfunding account to buy Tully a car and had raised more than $7,800 by Thursday afternoon.