A manhunt is under way for an anti-cop "survivalist" with mass-murder fantasies who is wanted in last week's deadly ambush of Pennsylvania state police barracks, authorities said. Police said the sharpshooter is armed with two rifles, and his father told investigators he "doesn't miss."
Arrest warrants were issued for Eric Matthew Frein, 31, of Canadensis, Pa., for the Friday night shooting that killed one trooper and left another critically wounded.
"He is at large and he is considered armed and extremely dangerous," Commissioner Frank Noonan said. "He has been described as a survivalist...He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also about wanting to commit mass acts of murder."
The gunman opened fire with a .308-caliber rifle on the state police's Blooming Grove barracks late Friday. Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, who was walking toward his car at the end of a night shift, was mortally wounded. Trooper Alex Douglass was shot as he came to Dickson's aid before the suspect slipped off into the thick forest surrounding the barracks.
A man walking his dog Monday spotted a green Jeep Cherokee slightly submerged in a swampy area near the barracks and called police, who found Frein's ID inside — along with shell casings, empty rifle cases, military gear and camouflage face paint. Police said shell casings in the car and casings found at the home Frein shared with his parents matched the ones from the barracks shooting.
"He’s expressed anti-government leanings in the past, especially toward law enforcement, and he has survivalist training."
"He’s expressed anti-government leanings in the past, especially toward law enforcement, and he has survivalist training," the commissioner said. The search warrant says that Frein's father, a retired Army major, taught his son how to shoot. He was a member of his high school rifle team and "doesn't miss," the father said.
Frein was involved in the military re-enactment community. Lars Prillaman was part of a World War II "living history" group with him about eight years ago; they played the German side, but did not permit any neo-Nazi or extremist activity. Prillaman said that while there were some "weird people" in the scene, Frein was "a really nice guy."
"I'm sad to hear about this," Prillaman said. "I can't begin to imagine what would have caused someone like him to go down this path."
A 2009 newspaper story about a World War I battle re-enactment for a Marine Corps Museum film quoted an armorer's assistant named Eric Frein, but the production company was unable to confirm if it was the same person.
Jeremiah Hornbacker, who works in film production, said he worked a number of jobs with Frein and was having trouble reconciling what he knew of him with the description given by police.
"Definitely, he could be very critical of the government. He voiced his opinions, had strong feelings — but nothing like, 'I'm going to go out and kill people and commit mass murder,'" Hornbaker said. He said he could not remember what specifically angered Frein but called him "libertarian-leaning."
They last spoke in June, he said, and Frein was upbeat. "He had gotten a job in Delaware and was in the process of moving," he said. "It seemed like he was moving ahead.'