BLOOMING GROVE, Pennsylvania (AP) — Authorities hunting for a suspect a fatal ambush outside a rural Pennsylvania state police barracks chased down several mistaken sightings Wednesday as schools closed down and the public remained on edge.
Law enforcement massed in a forested area to check out one of the latest tips, from workers who said they saw an armed person wearing camouflage, according to Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman. Police have been “getting sightings all over the place,” but none have panned out so far, he said.
Authorities were looking for 31-year-old Eric Frein, who is charged with killing one trooper and wounding another outside the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania late Friday.
State police have warned the public that Frein is dangerous, calling him an anti-law enforcement survivalist who has talked about committing mass murder. Two school districts closed Wednesday because of safety concerns for students and staff.
After opening fire on troopers at the remote barracks in the Pocono Mountains Friday night, Frein evidently tried to make his escape in a 2001 Jeep Cherokee, authorities said. Instead, he drove into a swamp about 2 miles (3 kilometers) away, where a man walking his dog stumbled across the partly submerged SUV three days later and called police.
Inside the abandoned Jeep, investigators found evidence they say ties Frein to the ambush that killed one trooper and critically wounded another: shell casings matching those found at the shooting scene; Frein’s driver’s license; camouflage face paint; two empty rifle cases and military gear.
It was the big break police were looking for, one that set off a massive manhunt by more than 200 law enforcement officials who fanned out across miles of thick woods, a place where Frein is believed to feel at home.
Frein was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer and other offenses.
Police found a U.S. Army manual called “Sniper Training and Employment” in the suspect’s bedroom at his parents’ house, according to a police affidavit released Tuesday. His father, a retired Army major, also told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who “doesn’t miss,” according to the paperwork.
Frein has held anti-law enforcement views for many years and has expressed them both online and to people who knew him, Lt. Col. George Bivens said.
Frein’s father, Michael Frein, who spent 28 years in the Army, told police that two weapons were missing from the home – an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope, according to the police affidavit.
Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. Associated Press writer Sean Carlin in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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