After 7 weeks living off the land in a rugged state forest, a subdued fugitive, Eric Frein, made his first court appearance Friday in Milford, Pa., on a capital murder charge of killing a state trooper with a high-powered rifle.
For law enforcement in Pennsylvania, the capture of the 31-year-old self-taught survivalist Thursday night by U.S. Marshals was personal. He was placed in handcuffs belonging to the state trooper he is accusing of killing, Cpl. Byron Dickson, and placed in Dickson’s patrol car.
“Now he will face justice,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said.
Frein, wearing an orange jumpsuit and displaying a small cut over his left eyebrow, was taken to the courthouse in Milford in a caravan that included an armored vehicle and police in fatigues carrying weapons.
Handcuffed and subdued, the suspect was taken from a squad car and marched into the courthouse to the cheers of local residents.
The marshals found Frein hiding in the field near a hangar at a small abandoned airport in Tannersville without a gun on his person.
“He was definitely surprised,” said state police commissioner Frank Noonan.
He said Frein was unarmed and “gave up because he was caught and he had no choice but to give up.”
“When they approached it (the hangar), they saw an individual that they thought was Eric Frein, and they ordered him to surrender, to get down on his knees and raise his hands, which is what he did,” Noonan told reporters. “Once they approached him, he admitted his identity and he was taken into custody.”
Noonan said authorities had kept up the pressure to try to capture the fugitive in the woods for fear that if he got into populated areas he might try to kill other police officers or civilians.
“We weren’t going to stop until this fugitive was arrest,” he said. “And I’m glad it ended without any other loss of life, including his.”
Dickson’s family, as well as wounded Trooper Alex Douglass and his family, expressed “relief and gratitude” over Frein’s arrest, Noonan said.
The capture brought widespread relief in the Pocono Mountain communities near the search area, which was on edge during the lengthy manhunt.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin