'Still a very active search' for suspect in Pennsylvania trooper's slaying

Residents near PA manhunt worried
Residents near PA manhunt worried

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Story highlights

  • State police lift the shelter-in-place order
  • Hundreds of officers resume search hours after closing in on suspect
  • Local official says there have been no credible sightings of suspect since Friday night
  • Eric Matthew Frein, 31, a self-taught survivalist, is wanted in state trooper's death
Hundreds of law enforcement officers searched Saturday for the suspect in the slaying of a Pennsylvania state trooper -- hours after authorities appeared to be closing in on the self-taught survivalist and bursts of gunfire were heard near the man's home in the Poconos Mountains.
"It is still a very active search," said Ralph Megliola, chairman of Barrett Township board of supervisors, adding that up to 400 law enforcement officers were involved, including members of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI.
On Friday night, police had surrounded an area where suspect Eric Matthew Frein was believed to be hiding, Megliola said. There have been no credible sightings since.
The area is not far from Frein's family home in Canadensis, in the Poconos.
A police spokesman involved in the case would not say that Frein had been surrounded.
Police exchanged gunfire in the area with an individual believed to be Frein, a government official told CNN on Friday.
On Saturday night, police lifted the shelter-in-place order for residents in the Price and Barrett townships of Monroe County but urged residents to remain cautious. They'd been urged to stay inside their homes due to police activity.
Pennsylvania State Police "does not have Frein in custody," spokeswoman Maria Finn said in a statement. "However, our troopers are determined to find him and bring him to justice."
Frein, 31, is being sought in the death of Cpl. Byron Dickson in a September 12 ambush outside the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Blooming Grove. He's also suspected of wounding another officer.
Canadensis is 30-40 miles from the site where Dickson was shot.
The FBI has placed Frein on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Frein is a survivalist with an extensive shooting background and a grudge against law enforcement, officials said.
Mohawk-style haircut
Frein apparently cut his hair into a mohawk style before the attack on police and was active in a military simulation unit that reenacted Cold War-era European conflicts, officials said.
His FBI most-wanted poster describes him as 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."
State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said Wednesday that investigators know Frein "has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also to commit mass acts of murder."
"He has very strong feelings about law enforcement and seems to be very angry with a lot of things that go on in our society."
Police official: 'We are coming for you'
State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Frein has an apparent fascination with Eastern European armies, their history and attire. His simulation group -- which Bivens declined to name -- would stage reenactments using Airsoft guns.
In this case, though, authorities say Frein is using live ammunition and shooting to kill.
Bivens said Frein has "his head shaved on the sides with long hair on top," wider than a "mohawk" haircut, apparently as part of his mental preparation for his attacks on the troopers. The hairstyle is "completely different from what he had worn for years.
In words directed at Frein, Bivens was blunt.
"If you are cowering in some cool damp place," Bivens said, "We are coming for you. It is only a matter of time until we bring you to justice for committing these cowardly acts."