SCRANTON, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A state police official says investigators are testing a .308 caliber rifle recovered from an abandoned airport hangar to see whether it is the weapon used to gun down one trooper and wound another outside a northeastern Pennsylvania police barracks.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports that state police commissioner Frank Noonan also said Saturday that law enforcement agencies may have had to change their strategy had the manhunt for 31-year-old suspect Eric Frein gone on indefinitely.
Frein was captured Thursday by federal marshals near the hanger following a seven-week manhunt in the Pocono mountains.
State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens says authorities found him as part of their door-to-door routine sweep, not via any community tips or sightings.
He is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 12 ambush that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass outside the Blooming Grove barracks. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Gov. Tom Corbett confirmed during a news conference Thursday night that state police used Cpl. Dickson’s handcuffs to bring Frein in.
The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, canceled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors canceled a popular Halloween parade.
Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.
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