Search for barracks ambush suspect a 'needle in a haystack'

MILFORD, Pa. (AP) " After a manhunt that spanned more than 300 square miles of rugged Pocono Mountains terrain and involved as many as 1,000 law enforcement officers, U.S. marshals who captured an anti-government survivalist wanted in a deadly police ambush were taking no chances.

Scott Malkowski of the U.S. Marshals Service told jurors Monday that a marshal put his boot on the back of Eric Frein's head to control him after the suspect surrendered at an abandoned airplane hangar.

Frein, 33, is charged with capital murder in the sniper attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass. He spent 48 days on the run before his capture more than 20 miles from the state police barracks where prosecutors say he opened fire on Sept. 12, 2014.

Frein has pleaded not guilty.

Law enforcement officials on Monday described a painstaking, slow-going manhunt for Frein, a sharpshooter who prosecutors say had ambushed state police at distance using a high-powered rifle and scope.

State Police Major George Bivens told the jury that trying to capture Frein was like looking for the "proverbial needle in a haystack."

"We were looking for one person who did not want to be found," said Bivens, who delivered frequent on-camera briefings during the manhunt to update a jittery public about the progress of the search.

The manhunt was complicated by the fact that aircraft couldn't see through the dense foliage. Additionally, Frein was armed and had left two bombs at a wooded campsite discovered by law enforcement officials, Bivens said.

Trooper James Hitchcock testified about the three crumpled, damp notebook pages police found in a trash bag at the base of a cliff about 100 yards from Frein's campsite. The pages were from a journal written in the suspect's hand in which the gunman described how he "got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it," watching one of his victims fall "still and quiet."

The journal's writer went on to describe how he ran to his Jeep after the ambush and tried to flee with the headlights off, but inadvertently drove it into a swamp and had to make his escape on foot.

A resident found the Jeep three days after the ambush and alerted police, who recovered Frein's driver's license and Social Security card, as well as shell casings that matched those found at the shooting scene. The Jeep was registered to Frein's parents and used by him.

Testimony wrapped up early Monday in observance of Passover. Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said outside court that he anticipates resting his case next week.

Prosecutors have said Frein ambushed the police in hopes of sparking a revolution. He faces a potential death sentence if he's convicted.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 May 2017 21:24:21 Processing Time: 301ms