Monday, October 20, 2014

The Manhunt Continues


     It’s maddening. There was a flurry of activity this afternoon, not in the “hot zone” as we had come to expect it, but a little south of that area and much too close to a local school complex. Pocono Mountain East schools include a high school, a junior high school, an intermediate school, and an elementary school on one campus. Very near the school – almost across a road, in fact, is Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Sanofi-Aventis. Almost directly across from Sanofi on a major artery in the county is the Swiftwater Pennsylvania State Police Barracks.
     This campus was one that was closed for a week when the manhunt for accused assassin Eric Frein began in mid-September. We have been told that a “credible sighting” of Frein took place quite near the high school around 9 p.m. Friday, when a local woman was out walking and it would seem shone a flashlight on Frein who suddenly appeared. According to reports, he was within twenty feet of her, and she described him accurately to the law enforcement officers who questioned her. She confirmed that he was carrying a “rifle with a scope” and said he did not threaten her. This happened not far from the football field, and there was a football game taking place at the time.
     Despite this sighting, school officials elected to have the schools on the Swiftwater campus open today. Then ─ just about the time the schools were due to be dismissed ─ there was a huge flurry of LEO activity. According to a reporter for one of the TV channels, “Today's intense Frein search started when a local officer giving his K9 a break saw someone suspicious run into woods in Swiftwater.
     Just before schools began to be dismissed, it appears there was a sizable gathering of LEOs on the scene, including a large number of K9 troops. The high school and junior high school busses left on schedule. The other two schools, as nearly as I can surmise, were held for a time. The high school football and cheerleading teams were bussed to Pocono Mountain West High School for their practice. Whether they were returned to P.M. East to be picked up is uncertain.
     Employees of Sanofi were very much aware of low-flying helicopters. This was very close to a shift change at the company, and some were concerned about getting to their cars safely, or even being able to leave the premises in order to get home. There were news crews all around the area, and one was advised to move away from a particular area for “their own safety.”
     It really began to seem as if the LEOs finally had their man. Many of us were following all this on Facebook, amazingly enough. A local page had been established fairly recently for those most impacted by the search to share what they were witnessing firsthand with others of us who were hungry for news. It was nail-biting time, to be sure. However, the resolution seems to be that once again, Frein slipped away from his pursuers.
     The particular page on which I, as well as many other people, were being made aware of what was happening had 219 members when I joined it. I believe some two weeks later it has over 1,000, and has gone from “public” to “private” to “secret.” Reading the comments .. there were well over four hundred … almost gave us a sense of being there. Some of those commenting were at Sanofi. Some were parents of Pocono Mountain East school students who were agonizing over a child who wasn’t yet safely home. When we had word of a child arriving, I think all of us breathed a sigh of relief.
     The administrators of this page keep a close rein on this group. Minimum speculation, just report what you personally are witnessing. Any members who stray too far are blocked from the group. So what I’ve shared with you I believe is accurate information. The sense of immediacy in following the thread moment-by-moment is difficult to describe.
     Now sunset has come and gone, and the best opportunities for apprehending Eric Frein seem to have once more ended.
     Almost. But not this time.
     Soon. That’s what we all hope for.