Eric Matthew Frein is a member of a military simulation unit which assumes the role of Cold War soldiers in the Eastern European Bloc, PA State Police revealed, Wednesday.
As a massive manhunt for the gunman accused of the deadly shooting of two Blooming Grove State Troopers continues, police officials sought to reassure the public that Frein's target is limited to law
Deputy Commissioner George Bivens, PA State Police, addressed the
media at the Blooming Grove Township offices.
Although Wallenpaupack Area School District and Mount Pocono
School District were closed Wednesday out of precaution, Bivens reiterated it was not the belief of the PA State Police that children or the public at large was in danger.
He urged the public, however, to be vigilant and use "common sense," and report any possible sightings or anything that may be amiss.
The latter may include a shed door open that is normally kept shut, or even a boat cover that appears to have moved.
The public is further advised to keep their houses and vehicles locked, and to leave an outside light on at night.
It was up to school officials to decide on what precautions to take, he said.
State Police released photographs taken from a social media site that shows Frein dressed as a Eastern European soldier.
Bivens said the State Police are in the process of interviewing members of
this group, which he said is based in eastern Pennsylvania.
He described them as a group of re-enactors and enthusiasts.
He stated that Frein has traveled to Europe in recent years and are
aware of his passport.
In reply to media questions, Bivens said that
the police have no information to suggest the defendant traveled to Europe for training in paramilitary activities.
Interviews by the State Police with family and friends of Frein, however, did find that he expressed hatred towards police, wished to kill them as well as express mass murder.
Bivens again stressed that if anyone hears talk like that from anyone, to report it to authorities.
Bivens said that State Police believe Frein's target is law enforcement in general, and for whatever reason took out his feelings
against the PA State Police.
The search Wednesday included over 150 State Police and agents of various agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and K9 units are deployed.
The actual number of
investigators deployed varies daily.
Trooper Thomas Kelly said that the wooded region is "full of cabins" with whole camps of unoccupied
cabins that have to be searched.
A vast region of woodlands, including the Delaware State Forest and
the 25,000 acre Blooming Grove Hunting Club are spread out in the general area, as well as State Game Lands and private woodlands.
Asked if the State Police may need to request the PA National Guard, Bivens said they feel they had adequate resources at this point in time.
Bivens again offered a direct statement to the defendant, in the event he is listening on a potable radio: "Eric, we are coming for
you. It is only a matter of time before we bring you to justice for this cowardly act."
Although there have been reports of sightings, Bivens declined
comment on any of them. All leads are being studied and pursued.
Frein, who is 31 and lived with his parents in Canadensis, Monroe
County, has not been seen at home for about a week or two, Bivens stated.
Weapons were seized from the home but police would elaborate. Frein worked a variety of odd jobs.
He was believed to have acted alone in the murder of Cpl. Bryon
Dickson and the wounding of Trooper Alex Douglass.
Police believe he is likely within the same general region in Pike County,
In the meantime, Frein remains at large, armed with what are
believed to be a .308 rifle and AK47-type assault weapon.
A $75,000 reward has been announced for the defendant's capture.
The tip line is 1-866-326-7256.
On Wednesday, the Wallenpaupack Area School District was closed while the manhunt for Frein continued.
The following is a statement from Wallenpaupack Superintendent Michael Silsby:
“The Wallenpaupack Area Administration has maintained daily communications with law enforcement and other officials since the shooting at the Blooming Grove Barracks last Friday.
“Based on that information the district decided to take precautionary measures and close school today. We will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis in our decision making process.
“In the event that school is closed, parents, students, and staff will be notified via district website, local media and our emergency phone notification system in the morning.
“Please note that when school is closed, all activities, athletic and community events are cancelled.
“The Wallenpaupack Area School District is dedicated to providing a safe environment for our students and staff. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time.”
The Western Wayne and Wayne Highlands School Districts were in school, but have added measures for the safety of their students.
“We are in school and everyone is here safely,” Western Wayne Superintendent Clay LaCoe said Wednesday. “It's as normal a day as it can be considering all that's going on around us.”
LaCoe said home sporting events that would have occurred outside on Wednesday were either postponed or relocated.
“If we can we're moving them inside,” he said. “Indoor activities are on as scheduled including the open house at Robert D. Wilson Elementary.
“We will have a police officer present during the open house. Again, this is all precautionary. We have the ability to use this resource to keep everyone safe and we should use it.”
LaCoe added the decision regarding activities was made for Wednesday only, but they will revisit the idea on Thursday.
“We have no indication that anyone at Western Wayne is in any danger, but to air on the side of caution we decided to do that,” LaCoe stated. “I think it's a wise thing to do right now for the community. We anticipate the public's understanding. We are navigating as best we can.”
Wayne Highlands is also taking safety precautions. Superintendent Greg Frigoletto said they've been in touch with state police and are being informed about what's going on.
“At this point we don't believe the suspect is in Wayne County, but there are no guarantees so we are taking precautions,” Frigoletto said.
The district has a Director of Safety and Security who is assigned to perimeter surveillance around each campus to make sure they're secure.
“Any outdoor activities have been moved inside until further notice,” Frigoletto stated. “There is also additional assistance and surveillance at all of the campuses.”
Any home event has been postponed.
“Some after school practices were cancelled,” Frigoletto said. “Anyone opting to have practice will have theirs inside. Nothing going on after school in any facilities. We are making these decisions as information is provided to us.”
Frigoletto said the district is working with Honesdale Borough Police, the Sheriff's Office, the Pennsylvania Constable and the National Park Service.
“We are making sure all locations are receiving extra security,” he stated.
Other entities have also taken precautions. Wayne Memorial Hospital was put on lock down Wednesday afternoon.
The following is a release from the hospital:
“All services at Wayne Memorial Hospital are open and operating at normal levels, but hospital officials have taken certain standard emergency precautions in the face of a local criminal investigation.
“The hospital has locked down all entrances and exits except the main entryway in the front of the building.
“It has also enhanced security measures, including the addition of staff to patrol the hospital campus in Honesdale.
“The shooting of a state trooper in our service area, and the fact that his killer is still on the loose, has put many of us on high alert,” said CEO David Hoff. “The hospital, however, is not in a state of emergency.
“We have activated our emergency preparedness plan, and the key word is ‘preparedness.’ It is something we have trained our staff to do—be prepared for an emergency.
“Facility Services Director John Conte is working closely with area law enforcement agencies and the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency to keep abreast of any new developments that might affect the hospital, its patients, staff and visitors.
“'We apologize for any inconvenience the lock down may cause our patients, visitors and staff,” said Conte, “we appreciate their cooperation.
“We think most people would agree that our actions are prudent and in the best interests of all concerned.
“Some area schools have taken similar and even more drastic steps, such as closing altogether.
“All of us hope this ends soon with no one else hurt,” said Hoff.