Amid reports of gunshots, police in Pennsylvania locked down several rural roads in the Pocono Mountains on Friday and Saturday as the national manhunt for suspected cop killer Eric Frein entered its second week. It's clear the intensity of the manhunt was building this weekend just days after the FBI declared Mr. Frein one of America’s most wanted.
Late on Sept. 12th, a Friday, a man using a .308 caliber rifle ambushed two state troopers, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass, during a shift change at the rural Blooming Grove state police barracks near Scranton. After finding a partially submerged Jeep in the vicinity a few days later, police identified the suspect as Eric Frein, a 31-year-old marksman, survivalist and war reenactor with a deep hatred for the police, perhaps stemming from a 2004 arrest where Frein spent 109 days in a county jail for suspected larceny.
The hunt for Frein has jarred the usually tranquil northeast Pennsylvania region, a sensation that ratcheted up when police on Friday ordered some residents in Barrett and Price Townships to lock their front doors and turn their lights off at night, even refusing entry to the area to some residents, who ended up having to spend the night at a shelter.
Those commands, imposed after an emergency declaration from the state, came after some residents reported hearing gunshots in the area. On Friday night, police surrounded the house where Frein lived with his parents before the shooting. Frein’s father, retired Army major Michael Frein, has told police that his son is a skilled marksman who "doesn't miss."
The Associated Press reports, “Authorities who spent the night in the neighborhood where a man suspected in the fatal shooting of a Pennsylvania State Police trooper lived with his parents donned bulletproof vests and gathered heavy rifles before fanning out Saturday morning.”
Police have been circumspect about the progress of the manhunt. At this point, they have not indicated that they have Frein cornered.
Behind the concern about a sharp-shooting cop-killer being on the loose in the Poconos are questions about Frein’s ideology. He is part of a group of war reenactors who don Eastern European uniforms as they do battle with Airsoft rifles, which hurt but don’t seriously injure targets.
Police say Frein may have converted his fantasy warfare to reality with his attack on the Blooming Grove barracks.
According to the FBI, “Frein is known to be a heavy smoker, a weapons enthusiast, and a survivalist. He claims to have fought with Serbians in Africa, and he has studied Russian and Serbian languages. He may have shaved his head on both sides and have long hair on top. He was last seen with no facial hair and was wearing a brown and gold windbreaker, khaki shorts, and sneakers. He was carrying a dark green backpack with black trim. Frein has ties to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.”