Official: Suspect identified in police ambush

Pennsylvania State Police have identified a suspect in the killing of a trooper and the critical wounding of another outside a rural barracks, a man in his 30s who recently lived about 20 miles from the scene of the ambush, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation said Tuesday.

The suspect lived with his parents in Canadensis until a few months ago, said the official, who was not authorized to release the information and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Investigators found his Jeep in a swampy area near the Blooming Grove barracks, where an assailant opened fire with a rifle Friday night, the official said.

The gunman killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass outside the barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, then slipped away.

An arrest warrant will be issued and state police were looking for the suspect, said the official.

Authorities said earlier Tuesday they had made progress in their effort to catch the rifle-toting gunman, obtaining a search warrant connected to the late-night ambush. The office of District Judge Michael Muth confirmed a search warrant was issued early Tuesday. The judge, based in a neighboring county, declined to provide a copy of it or release any details about the location of the search.

Investigators planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

The assailant, using a .308-caliber rifle, opened fire during a shift change. The motive is unknown, but police have said it’s likely the gunman had a grievance against the state police.

Authorities released a likely profile of the gunman on Monday in hopes it might help authorities catch him. The profile indicated the gunman might be an avid hunter or received firearms training — possibly from law enforcement or even the military. It also suggested he regularly visited a shooting range to keep his skills sharp and made several trips to the barracks, picking just the right hiding spot from which he could launch an ambush and make his escape.

Police received hundreds of tips as a nonprofit group increased its reward offer to $75,000 for information leading to the gunman’s capture, and a number of the tips provided “credible information” about the ambush, Lt. Col. George Bivens said. Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers has asked anyone with information to call them or submit tips online.

Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman, said in a statement earlier Tuesday that parts of Route 402, a roadway that runs through a forest near the barracks, were blocked overnight to allow a search of the area without endangering the safety of motorists. He didn’t say what investigators were looking for but said the road was reopened and no one was in custody.

As the manhunt continued, Dickson’s family prepared for his funeral, to be held Thursday at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Scranton. Dickson, a Marine Corps veteran who joined the state police in 2007 and had worked as a patrol unit supervisor in the Blooming Grove barracks since June, is survived by his wife of 10 years and two young sons.

The injured lawman, Trooper Douglass, a nine-year veteran, was conscious and talking for the first time since he underwent surgery. Investigators planned to interview him.

 

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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