Sep 19, 2014 7:47 AM
Search for ambush suspect centers on dense woods
The Associated Press
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) Pennsylvania State Police paused to pay tribute to their fallen comrade, then got back to work hunting for the man suspected as his killer a self-taught survivalist they are trying to flush out of dense, swampy northeastern Pennsylvania woodland.
Police say they are eliminating possible hiding places for the suspect, 31-year-old Eric Frein, including hunting cabins, campsites and other occasional residences in the Pocono Mountains. An intense late-night search Thursday concentrated on the area around Frein's parents' home, with roads blocked and residents kept from their homes temporarily.
"We're systemically taking away any opportunities for him for cover and concealment, for any comfort," Lt. Col. George Bivens told reporters Thursday afternoon, hours after the funeral for Cpl. Bryon Dickson.
Frein is charged with killing Dickson, 38, and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass in a late-night ambush outside the Blooming Grove barracks a week ago. As many as 200 law enforcement officers at a time have been casting a wide net around the crime scene, exploring rugged terrain so impenetrable in spots that police choppers can't see through the forest canopy.
Schools in the area will be closed again Friday as authorities look for Frein, who was added Thursday to the FBI's 10 most wanted list. A total of $175,000 in reward money is being offered for information leading to his arrest.
"We have now made the world where he could hide a very, very small place," said Edward Hanko, special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia office.
As the search continued, thousands of law enforcement officers from around the country came to Scranton to pay their respects to Dickson, lining up 10 deep for the funeral procession under a brilliant blue sky. A single bell tolled for more than 20 minutes before the casket arrived, and the sea of uniformed officers stood at attention in silence.
Inside St. Peter's Cathedral, friends and colleagues called Dickson a devoted officer who put his family first.
Dickson "was no ordinary trooper," police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.
The word that best describes Dickson is "impeccable," Cpl. Derek Felsman said during his eulogy. Felsman said his best friend took perfect care of his wife, crafted flawless wood toys for his two sons and always wore a crisp and spotless uniform with gleaming leather boots and belt.
Dickson regularly worked past quitting time to take drunken drivers off the street, Felsman said.
"He held himself to the highest standards as evidenced in every aspect of his life," he said.