Search shifts after possible sighting of Pa. ambush suspect
A woman out for a walk Friday night saw a rifle-toting man with a mud-covered face believed to be suspected cop killer Eric Frein
By Michael Rubinkam
CANADENSIS, Pa. — Police shifted their search and a northeastern Pennsylvania school district tightened security Monday after the suspect in a deadly police ambush was believed to have been spotted near one of its campuses.
A woman out for a walk Friday night saw a rifle-toting man with a mud-covered face near Pocono Mountain East High School in Swiftwater. State police believe the man was Eric Frein, who has eluded capture despite an intense manhunt in the Pocono Mountains.
Authorities had been searching for Frein in the woods around his parents' home in Canadensis, but shifted their primary search area five or six miles to the southwest after Friday night's sighting. Lt. Col. George Bivens said police have put a "tremendous amount of pressure on him" and likely forced him to move.
The high school — Frein's alma mater — and all other schools in the Pocono Mountain School District were open Monday, but took extra precautions in light of the sighting.
Additional officers from the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department were stationed at the district's Swiftwater campus to supplement the lone police officer who normally patrols that location, which, in addition to the high school, includes a junior high and elementary school.
Pennsylvania State Police did not recommend that schools close, district spokeswoman Wendy Frable said.
"We would not bring the students in if we did not have reassurance from police they felt the campus was safe," she said Monday.
The district will not have attendance figures until Monday afternoon, but anticipates that some students will have stayed home, she said.
Bivens said Saturday that authorities do not make a recommendation about whether to close schools, but provide as much information as possible to school officials so they can make their own decision.
Schools closed for several days early in the search because state police had closed roads and buses were unable to provide transportation.
Frein, 31, is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing one trooper and seriously wounding a second. State police have said they believe the self-taught survivalist has a hatred of law enforcement and wants to target police, not the general public.
State police said Monday that blood reportedly found at two homes in the search area is not linked to Frein. DNA testing ruled out any link to Frein in blood droplets found on a covered porch in the area. Material found on a back door at a second home near the first turned out not to be human blood.
Police believe Frein could be breaking into vacant cabins or vacation homes to look for food or take shelter from the elements.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press