A survivalist who threatened mass murder is on the run after a deadly ambush at a state police barracks in Pennsylvania.
Eric Frein, 31, allegedly killed Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass outside the barracks in Blooming Grove late on the night of September 12. Dickson was shot twice and died. Douglass was shot but managed to crawl into the barracks lobby to safety.
Frein also allegedly shot at Communications Officer Nicole Palmer as she attempted to help Dickson. Surveillance video shows four shots were fired at the barracks, spanning 90 seconds.
Here’s what you should know about Frein, the effort to find him, and his capacity to kill.
1. He Made Statements About ‘Mass Acts of Murder’
State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said at a media briefing (watch it above):
This fella is extremely dangerous. We have no idea where he is in the community. … he has made statements about killing law enforcement as well as committing mass acts of murder. He has strong feelings about law enforcement, seems to be very angry with things that go on in our society.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports cops believe Frein held a grudge against the state police.
Suspect identified in PSP shooting as Eric Matthew Frein pic.twitter.com/9mxnUTc40Z
— Eric Deabill (@ericdeabill) September 16, 2014
Frein lived with his parents, E. Michael Frein and Deborah Frein, in Canadensis, Pennsylvania.
Frein’s sister, 18-year-old Tiffany, told NBC her brother is “not a psycho”:
He did something messed up, but he’s still a human and he has feelings. … We’re not trying to protect him. He has to suffer the consequences. But he’s still our family. I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing. I hope it’s a big misunderstanding. … He’s not a psycho. He was a good guy to me, at least. Last time my mom talked to him he was happy. So we don’t know where this is coming from.
In the CNN interview below, Frein’s friend, named Jack, describes him as an “intelligent” person who never showed malice toward police.
Jack disputes the negative connotation of the word “survivalist,” saying Frein was an Eagle Scout.
“He was obviously a big critic of the federal government,” Jack said, “but he never specifically targeted police when he was talking to me. … Most of his aggression was toward the federal government, and I’m curious as to where news sources have been finding these comments about him killing police officers over social media. … Getting ahold of Eric was notoriously hard among our group of friends because of his lack of social media use.”
2. He’s a War Re-Enactor Who Was in a Nazi Movie — & Might Be Acting Out the First ‘Rambo’
Frein is a military buff and war re-enactor with a particular interest in Eastern European armies.
Frein has studied Russian and Serbian and, according to the FBI, “claims to have fought with Serbians in Africa.”
Friend and fellow re-enactor Roman Kamensky tells ABC that “If [Frein is] re-enacting anyone, it’s Rambo from the very first movie,” First Blood, in which Sylvester Stallone’s famed character escapes into the woods and wields his Vietnam-forged combat skills against abusive local lawmen.
3. Frein Is Heavily Armed & Is an Expert Sharpshooter Who ‘Doesn’t Miss’
Police say Frein has at least two guns, including the .308 rifle allegedly used to kill Corporal Dickson.
According to a criminal complaint (read the full document in Fact 5), police interviewed his father, E. Michael Frein, a 28-year military veteran and former Army major. The father said he’d trained Frein to shoot and that his son was an expert marksman who “doesn’t miss.”
The father said two weapons were missing from his home: an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope.
Police think Frein stalked the state police barracks in Blooming Grove, picking the perfect spot for an ambush. At a press conference before Frein was named as a suspect, Lt. Col. George Bivens called the shooter a “coward” and vowed he would be arrested.
4. The FBI Has Added Him to the 10 Most Wanted List
Offering a $100,000 reward for Frein’s capture, the FBI describes him like this:
Frein is known to be a heavy smoker, a weapons enthusiast, and a survivalist. He claims to have fought with Serbians in Africa, and he has studied Russian and Serbian languages. He may have shaved his head on both sides and have long hair on top. He was last seen with no facial hair and was wearing a brown and gold windbreaker, khaki shorts, and sneakers. He was carrying a dark green backpack with black trim. Frein has ties to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Frein has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, assault of a law enforcement officer, reckless endangerment, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, criminal attempt of murder in the first degree, criminal attempt of murder of a law enforcement officer, and possession of an instrument with criminal intent.
CrimewatchPA reports there is a $75,000 local reward for information leading to his capture. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the State Police Tip Line at 866-326-7256 or Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers at 800-4PA-TIPS.
Frein is 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair.
CBS Pittsburgh reports some 200 officers searched the dense forest in the region surrounding the barracks after the shooting.
5. Cops Found a Sniper Manual & ‘Information Concerning Foreign Embassies’
Frein’s car, a green Jeep Cherokee Sport, was found at 8:30 a.m. Monday, September 15, about 2 miles from the police barracks where the shooting took place. Discovered by a local man out walking a dog, the vehicle was partially submerged in a retention pond, with its windows open.
Inside the vehicle police found two spent shell casings matching those used in the ambush, Frein’s Pennsylvania driver’s license, his Social Security card, his game commission range permit, camouflage face paint, flash lights, a black hooded sweatshirt, two empty rifle cases, “military gear” and “various information concerning foreign embassies.”
— Jim Hamill (@JimHamill) September 16, 2014
According to the criminal complaint, the car is registered to E. Michael and Deborah Frein. The parents confirmed to police that Eric Frein used the Jeep as his personal vehicle for the past two years.
Frein lived with his parents at 308 Seneca Lane in Canadensis, about 20 miles from the ambush.
Police searched the home and, in the garage, found additional spent shell casings that matched those used in the ambush and found in the Jeep. In Frein’s bedroom they found an Army sniper manual titled “Sniper Training and Employment.”