Opening of roads and school brings relief to those near Pennsylvania manhunt
Eric Matthew Frein, a self-styled survivalist is believed to be hiding in the woods
Investigators Monday discovered AK-47 and ammo they say belong to Frein
Frein is wanted for killing one Pennsylvania state police officer and shooting another
A line of law enforcement vehicles stretched for a mile along a rural Pennsylvania road Tuesday as the hunt for suspected cop-killer Eric Matthew Frein entered its 11th day.
Area schools opened for the first time since the middle of last week, although school buses were kept off roads because of the heavy police activity. There was increased security throughout the Pocono Mountain School District, and students would remain indoors, according to the district website.
“This is an extremely difficult situation for our community,” the school district website said in announcing schools reopened Tuesday. “Schools will be in session but, ultimately it is your decision as parents whether to send your children to school. The District will respect your decision and all absences will be excused and will not impact a student’s perfect attendance.”
For the moment, the reopening of schools and roads Tuesday provided a sense of relief to a community under virtual lock-down since Frein – a 31-year-old self-styled survivalist and war buff – allegedly killed a state police officer and shot another officer September 12 during an ambush outside the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, attendance in the 9,800-student district was down about 30%, a school official said. After-school athletic practices were moved indoors, and home athletic competitions canceled.
“It’s a difficult time for our parents,” district spokeswoman Wendy Frable told CNN. “A lot of parents are still a little nervous.”
The shooting unleashed a massive manhunt involving hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement agents. Life in the otherwise quiet community in the Pocono Mountains was disrupted as thousands of residents were under lock-down, and schools and some roads closed near the densely wooded search area.
On Tuesday, two days after authorities discovered an AK-47 rifle, some magazines and a small bag of ammo in the northeastern Pennsylvania woods where they believe Frein is hiding, the search moved slightly north, police said.
“He’s out in those woods right now,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters a day earlier.
State Police Lt. Col George Bivens, who joined the governor, said, “I do believe that we are close to him at this point.”
Tracking dogs had indicated “we’re on the right trail,” Bivens said a day earlier, adding that thermal imaging technology was being used to find Frein, who authorities believe had been planning the ambush for months or possibly years.
Investigators said the items they found were either abandoned or hidden by Frein, who is a skilled marksman and trained survivalist.
Authorities have said that Frein hated law enforcement and that they believe that he’s solely focused on hurting more officers, but not civilians.
When asked why investigators concluded that, Corbett answered that the night of the barracks shooting, Frein had the opportunity to shoot civilians and didn’t take it.
As to the rifle that was found over the weekend, it was positioned in such a way that it could be seen, though the items were partially concealed, Bivens said.
“Frein obviously knows we’re there” searching, he said.
Up to 400 law enforcement officers are searching for Frein, including members of the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
They are combing about 200 to 250 square miles of wooded area not far from Frein’s family home in Canadensis, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from where Frein allegedly shot the police officers.
CNN’s Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.