A huge break in the case of the troopers gunned down Friday at the Pennsylvania State Police, Blooming Grove Barracks, was announced today when a suspect was named.
The man accused of the crimes, Eric Matthew Frein, age 31, of Canadensis, is still at large.
Described as a survivalist and armed with a .308 rifle with a scope and AK-47, the suspect fled on foot last Friday night after his Jeep became stuck two miles from the crime scene, police said.
"He is armed and extremely dangerous," warned Frank Noonan, PA State Police Commissioner at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Pike County Training Center.
Anyone coming across the suspect is urged not to confront him and immediately call the police or 9-1-1.
It is unknown if Frein is still in the area or not.
A massive manhunt spanning the scope of law enforcement from local
to federal agencies has been underway since the shootings late Friday.
The break occurred Monday when a man at the Blue Heron Estates development was out walking his dog and saw a suspicious vehicle.
A green 2001 Jeep Cherokee SUV was seen partly submerged in a retention pond and abandoned. It was subsequently reported to police.
Shell casings were found in the vehicle, Noon said, that matched the spent casings found at the scene and other evidence.
The defendant is described as approximately 165 pounds, about 6'1"
tall and with blue eyes.
Deputy Commissioner George Bivens said that the defendant's description was dispatched to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
An intense manhunt is underway. Over 200 police are on the ground in Pike County and nearby areas on this case.
They are working closely with the Pike County District Attorney's Office.
Talked of mass murder
Interviews have been made with the defendant's relatives and friends.
Noonan expressed exasperation that the defendant had reportedly been talking for years about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and committing "mass acts of murder," but no one ever reported it to police. Noonan said the police were not aware of him before.
Bivens said that Frein's prior record consists only of a misdemeanor- possibly a theft- in another state.
Noonan stated that police do no know the defendant's reasons for this way of thinking. Frein had verbalized his feelings to others and made online postings.
Bivens stated that the vehicle was hidden under a dense canopy of woods, and not visible by air searches.
He said he was sure the defendant did not mean to leave behind this evidence when he became stuck.
Bivens also stated that the State Police feel that the defendant was targeting law enforcement in general and not these specific troopers. Frein is not related to either of the victims.
Crime scene described
The affidavit filed by State Police supporting charges that have been filed against Frein offer information on the shooting scene not released previously.
On Friday, Sept. 12, Cpl. Bryon Dickson was working the 3 p.m.- 11 p.m. shift and was in full uniform. At approximately 10:50 p.m., Dickson was exiting the front door of the Blooming Grove station towards his vehicle which was parked in front of the station.
As he exited the door, he immediately dropped to the ground, where he remained motionless.
These actions were observed on the station surveillance system.
About five minutes prior, PCO Nicole Palmer arrived at the station to start her shift. She entered the front door and was on her way to the communication room. She said she observed Dickson walk through the lobby towards the front door.
"Palmer stated that she heard a noise which she related sounded like a firecracker," the affidavit reads.
While looking out a window, she saw Dickson on the ground. She went outside and approached him, asking him what had happened. Dickson was still alive and he informed her that he had been shot and needed help.
While attending to him, another shot was fired in the direction of the front entrance. Palmer saw a cloud of white residue on the lobby floor. She went back in to try and call 9-1-1 but was not successful.
She went back to Dickson and asked her to get him inside but she was not able. Palmer then went back in to call for assistance.
Trooper Alex Douglass, also in full uniform, was just arriving for the 11 p.m.- 7 a.m. shift. Walking to the entrance, Douglass saw Dickson on the ground, who laid motionless.
Douglass looked toward the station lobby, and immediately fell to the ground.
Douglass was able to crawl into the lobby. Trooper William Fells, who was inside, retrieved Douglass and brought him into the secure part of the station.
Video surveillance indicates there were four shots, which took about 90 seconds.
Members of the State Police Patrol Unit attempted to rescue Dickson.
Using a marked patrol SUV as a shield, they began render medical assistance to Dickson. He was subsequently declared deceased at the scene by the Pike County Coroner's Office.
Douglass was taken by Medi-Vac to Geisinger Community Medical Center where he received emergency surgery for a gunshot wound to the pelvic region.
An autopsy on Dickson showed that he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
On Saturday, investigators found four spent .308 caliber casings where the shooter would have been positioned.
On Monday, Sept. 15, a man at the Blue Heron development called the Blooming Grove station at 8:30 a.m. saying that he was out walking his dog through a wooded area when he observed the suspect vehicle.
Upon investigation, Trooper Jeremy Carroll saw a chain barrier before the pond had been damaged.
A record check indicated that the Jeep Cherokee was registered to a couple who Noonan identified as Frein's parents, at 308 Seneca Lane, Barret Township, Canadensis. A search warrant was obtained.
A search of the vehicle by Trooper James Hitchcock found:
1. Two spent .308 cartridge casings
2. A valid PA driver's license for the defendant Eric Matthew Frein
3. A Social Security card for the defendant
4. A PA Game Commission Range Permit for the defendant
5. Camouflage face paint, a black hooded sweatshirt, military gear
6. Flash lights
7.Two empty rifle cases
8. Various information concerning foreign embassies
Searched his home
On Tuesday, the Monroe County District Attorney approved a search warrant for the defendant's house, which is the same address as the defendant's parents.
Frein's father told police that two firearms were missing from the residence.
Police said that he described one as an AK-47 and the other was a .308 rifle with a scope.
The defendant's mother indicated that Frein had utilized his parent's vehicle as his own personal vehicle for the past two years.
Police also found 14 spent cartridge casings in the garage at the home, which a ballistics test showed also matched the firearm used in the crime.
The defendant's father is a retired Major in the United States Army with 28 years of service.
He told police that he had trained the defendant in shooting skills, that the defendant was a member of the rifle team in high school, and that the defendant was a better shooter than he is.
The father verified that that a picture of a black rifle case found in the Jeep looks like his son's case.
Charges were filed at the office of District Justice Shannon Muir.
The defendant has been charged with the following: Murder of the 1st Degree; Criminal Attempt of Murder in the 1st Degree; Criminal Homicide of a Law
Enforcement Officer and Criminal Attempt of the same; Assault of a Law
Enforcement Officer; Discharge of a Firearm into an Occupied Structure; Possessing Instruments of Crime; and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
Noonan stated that this break in the case is "extremely gratifying" to all of the PA State Police, adding it was especially gratifying to reach this point prior to Dickson's funeral on Thursday.
Leads are still being investigated and anyone with information is urged to contact police.
A $75,000 reward has been announced for the defendant's capture. The tip line is 1-866-326-7256.