Accused Trooper Shooter Eric Frein Charged With Murder, Related Offenses After Capture

Eric Frein, the survivalist accused of killing a Pennsylvania State Trooper, wounding another and then leading authorities on a seven-week manhunt through the woods surrounding the Pocono Mountains, was formally charged with murder Friday. 

Frein, 31, was escorted into the Pike County courthouse in an orange jumpsuit, avoiding eye contact with the public.

District Court Judge Shannon Muir read the list of charges, describing the murder, saying Frein had shot Cpl. Bryon Dickson with a .308 rifle, possessed two bombs and attempted to kill two others.

The judge asked Frein if he understood the charges and the possibility of the death penalty.

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"Yes, I do," was all Frein said during the hearing.

Frein is accused of fatally shooting Dickson and critically injuring Trooper Alex Douglass in a Sept. 12 ambush outside the Blooming Grove police barracks located along Pa. Route 402 -- the same location he was held after investigators took him into custody. Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin said Thursday night that he plans to seek the death penalty. 

The suspect surrendered to investigators Thursday evening, 48 days after police began their search for the alleged shooter. The manhunt for Frein, who investigators described as an "armed and dangerous" survivalist, crippled communities throughout Pike and Monroe counties -- disrupting tourism in the Poconos-area,prompting school officials to cancel classes, and even threatening Halloween celebrations in some towns. Tonkin said Friday that the search cost around $10 million. 

Frein allegedly held anti-law enforcement views for many years and expressed them both online and to people who knew him. But the source of his alleged vendetta remains unclear. 

"The reason this was so important was because Eric Frein was dedicated to killing law enforcement members," Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said late Thursday.

Frein is facing first-degree murder charges and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction after police discovered pipe bombs during the search. Authorities combing the dense northeastern Pennsylvania woods in search of Frein with the help of dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools followed a trail of items he left behind, including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47 style assault rifle and a journal they say detailed the assault in chilling detail. They believe they spotted him afar several times during the hunt, which they said he appeared to be treating like a game. 

The alleged shooter appeared clean-shaven when authorities captured him Thursday at the Birchwood-Pocono Airpark, an abandoned airplane  hangar, in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. The look was in stark contrast to an image -- depicting Frein with a mohawk -- that was circulated by authorities during their search.

Tonkin said the Pike County Corrections warden will decide whether Frein is housed in the general prison population. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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