Troopers Detail Response To Sniper Targeting Their Barracks

Apr 5, 2017

State police troopers on Wednesday described for a jury how they responded in the chaotic minutes and hours after a sniper targeted their barracks, shooting two troopers from a wooded area across the street during a late-night shift change.

Five troopers gave jurors a dramatic inside look at the Sept. 12, 2014, ambush that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson II and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass, recounting their initial confusion when they heard the first gunshot just before 11 p.m. on what had otherwise been a routine night at the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The testimony came on the second day of a trial for Eric Frein, 33, who's charged in the attack. Frein eluded capture for nearly seven weeks before U.S. marshals caught him at an abandoned airplane hangar.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Frein has pleaded not guilty.

Troopers sprang into action as word spread that Dickson and Douglass had been shot, grabbing shotguns and rifles from a weapons locker and quickly improvising a rescue plan for Dickson, who was lying exposed on the sidewalk in front of the barracks.

Knowing the gunman might still be in the woods — waiting to target anyone who tried to come to Dickson's assistance — the troopers testified that they parked an SUV in front of Dickson and used the vehicle as cover to allow them to drag the mortally wounded trooper into the barracks.

By the time they got him inside, Dickson had turned white, and his mouth and eyes were open. Troopers told the jury they knew he was dead even as they frantically performed CPR and tried to revive him with a defibrillator.

Trooper Robert Golden, a former Marine and combat veteran, testified he slapped Dickson — a fellow Marine veteran — and called his name to try to get a response.

"I was looking for any signs of life. Just looking into his eyes, there was nothing," Golden said.

He said he wanted Dickson's body covered with an American flag but had to make due with a blanket.

"Dickson was a Marine. It's just a proper way to take care of our dead," he said.

Other troopers tended to Douglass, who'd suffered a devastating gunshot wound in his pelvis.

Prosecutors played a radio transmission in which Douglass can be heard breathing heavily and cursing, requesting a drink and asking when an ambulance would arrive. He was eventually flown to a hospital and survived.

Prosecutors have said Frein targeted the barracks at random in an attempt to spark a revolution. Frein called Dickson's slaying an "assassination" in an interview after his arrest and said he wanted to "make a change" in government.