(CANADENSIS, Pa.) — A police dragnet through the woods of Pennsylvania has narrowed for the suspect in the shooting of two state troopers thanks to some “very credible” tips, police said at a press conference Monday.
“I do believe that we are close to him at this point,” State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.
Bivens said they are focused on the northern end of Monroe County, near the border of Pike County in eastern Pennsylvania, not far from where suspect Eric Frein is accused of ambushing the Blooming Grove police barracks Sept. 12, killing one officer and critically injuring another.
“We’re following up on tips, we believe they’re very credible. And yes, there is a lot of police activity. It’s been ongoing throughout the night,” Bivens said.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, also at the press conference, said that Frein’s issue is with police, not civilians.
“He had the opportunity to shoot civilians at the Blooming Grove barracks at the same time that he shot the police officer… and he chose not to shoot them,” Corbett said.
Officials Sunday found a Kalashnikov-style rifle and two AK-47 clips in the dense Pennsylvania forest near the barracks where Eric Frein allegedly killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass.
“We are pushing him hard, he is no longer safe and I am confident that he will be apprehended,” State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said in a news conference Sunday. “Both dogs and human trackers are getting indications that we are on the right trail.”
Bivens said trackers discovered the items Frein hid or abandoned in the woods they believe he had been carrying while on the run. Authorities did not yet know whether the recovered weapon had been used in the Sept. 12 ambush at the state police barracks.
Bivens said Frein, who has since been placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, had been planning a confrontation with law enforcement for months, if not years.
“We know that Frein has prepared and planned extensively for months, and maybe years,” Bivens said. “He planned his attack and his retreat.”
Police say they have not seen the 31-year-old self-described survivalist, but hundreds of officers are chasing every possible lead.
Roman Kamensky, who used to perform military re-enactments with Frein, says he may be thinking like a solider at war.
“If he wants to kill more cops he’s probably waiting for them to walk into his kill box,” Kamensky said.
Police reiterated Sunday they believe Frein isn’t after civilians and have since lifted a shelter-in-place order for thousands of residents in the area. Residents are still being told to stay alert and avoid wooded areas.
“The suspect is still considered armed and dangerous,” Bivens said. “We ask and remind residents to lock all doors as well as their vehicles. At night, keep the exterior of their homes well lit.”
Residents in the area are keeping track of the manhunt by listening to police scanners.
The search is focusing on a several-square-mile area on the border of Pike and Monroe counties around the nearby village where Frein grew up, Bivens said.
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