Prosecutors in Pennsylvania will seek the death penalty in their case against Eric Frein, the prime suspect in a deadly shooting that left one Pennsylvania state trooper dead and another seriously wounded.
Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin made the announcement at a Thursday night press conference, just hours after Frein surrendered to U.S. marshals.
Tonkin said that Frein would be charged with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer, attempted murder, and possession of weapons of mass destruction.
"I intend to seek the death penalty," Tonkin told reporters at the press conference.
Authorities say Frein, a 31-year-old military enthusiast with extensive training as a marksman, ambushed two state troopers during a shift change outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed in the attack.Trooper Alex Douglass, who was seriously wounded, was released from the hospital two weeks ago.
Speaking at the same press conference Thursday night, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said the events leading up to Frein’s capture fell into place after U.S. marshals spotted him near an abandoned airport hangar at the Birchwood-Pocono Airport near Tannersville.
"When they approached it, they saw an individual," said Noonan. "They ordered him to surrender, to get down and raise his hands."
Noonan said Frein, who did not resist, was "definitely taken by surprise."
According to WRIC.com, authorities placed Frein in Dickson's handcuffs and transported him to the Blooming Grove barracks in the slain trooper's squad car.
Authorities had spent the past 48 days searching for Frein in the forests surrounding Canadensis, the village in northeastern Pennsylvania where Frein grew up.
"The reason this took so long -- it’s such a wooded area that he was totally familiar with that he had plenty of places to hide in," said Noonan.
"We weren't going to stop until this fugitive was going to be arrested, and I'm glad it ended without any other loss of life –- including his," Noonan continued.
During the search for Frein, the first breakthrough in the case came in the hours following the shooting, when Frein's jeep was found partially submerged in a wooded area, not far from the police barracks. Ammunition casings found inside the vehicle matched casings found at the scene of the shooting, police said.
Investigators say they believe Frein fled on foot. During the course of the manhunt there were numerous reported sightings of him in the wooded mountain areas, which are popular with tourists and law enforcement repeatedly claimed they were closing in on the fugitive.
On Sept. 24, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens announced Frein had left a trail of used diapers and empty cigarette packs in the forests surrounding Canadensis.
The diapers earned Frein the moniker "Diaper Sniper" and the creation of hashtag #DiaperSniper on Twitter.
Another big development came earlier this month, when police seized a large cache of survival supplies and handwritten notes at a campsite in the area around Canadensis.
According to Bivens, the notes give a detailed first-person account of the deadly ambush.
One of the notes, reads, in part:
"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick. I took a follow-up shot on his head, neck area. He was still and quiet after that. Another cop approached the one I just shot. As he went to kneel, I took a shot at him and he jumped in the door. His legs were visible and still. I ran back to the jeep. I made it maybe half-a-mile from the GL (game land) road and hit a road block. I didn't expect one so soon -- it was only 15 to 20 minutes. I did a k-turn a quarter mile from them and pulled into a development I knew had unfinished access roads. Hearing helos (helicopters), I just used my marker lights, missed the trail around a run off pool and drove straight into it. Disaster. Made half-attempt to stash AK and ran."
Biven’s called the written account of the shootings "cold blooded and absolutely chilling."
"I can only describe Eric Frein’s actions as pure evil," he said.
None of the notes, Bivens said, suggest Frein knew either of the troopers he is accused of shooting.
The search for Frein heightened on Tuesday, when Frein was reportedly sighted at Buck Hill Falls, a private community in the Pocono Mountains. It remains unclear if that sighting helped lead police to Frein Thursday.
Police have not confirmed a possible motive for the shooting of the troopers, but have said Frein previously wrote about his hatred for police and had been planning an attack, possibly for several years.
"He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also to commit mass acts of murder," Noonan said in September. "What his reasons are, we don't know, but he has very strong feelings about law enforcement and seems to be very angry with a lot of things that go on in our society."
Because Frein allegedly targeted law enforcement, authorities remained concerned throughout the manhunt that he might strike again.
"Eric Frein had a mission, and that was to attack law enforcement," Noonan said Thursday. "If he got out of those woods, we were very concerned that he would then kill other law enforcement -- and then civilians."
According to the Tonkin, Frein will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, before Magisterial District Judge Shannon Muir at the Pike County Court House.