CANADENSIS, Pa. - Nine days after a gunman opened fire in a deadly ambush at a state police barracks, authorities have had no contact with the suspect they describe as a self-taught survivalist despite an intensive search that shut down the heavily wooded community where he lived with his parents.
"Based on our investigation, we know Frein has prepared and planned extensively for months or maybe years," said state police Lt. Col. George Bivens, deputy commissioner of operations, in a statement. "He planned his attack and his retreat -- however, we believe we are closing in on him."
Though a shelter-in-place order had been lifted in the Pocono Mountains community where police have focused their search, they continued to urge residents to be vigilant Sunday as the manhunt continues for Eric Frein.
A state police spokesman said no contact had been made with Frein, who was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list after the Sept. 12 shooting at a nearby police barracks that left one trooper dead and a second wounded.
At a press conference on Sunday, Bivens said police engaged in the search for him have found items that he may have been intending to use including an AK47, an automatic weapon magazine, and ammunition.
He said his agency has a "strong reason to believe he is in the area."
"We are asking the public to use common sense and please avoid going into thewooded areas in and around Barrett and Price townships, as well as the Delaware State Forest area," said Bivens. "We know archery season is right around the corner and hunters might be setting up equipment - so, we are asking you to refrain from that in these areas until Frein is captured.".
Police on Friday descended on the community where Frein, 31, had lived with his parents, ordering residents to stay inside their homes and preventing anyone outside the neighborhood from returning to their homes. Law enforcement officers wearing bulletproof vests and armed with rifles scoured the woods as helicopters buzzed overhead.
There had been reports of gunfire exchange, but Bivens downplayed that, saying there was no exchange between troopers and the suspect and there is no confirmation the shots were related to the case.
Late Saturday night, police lifted their order to stay inside but urged residents to keep doors locked, keep their yards well-lit and report suspicious persons or vehicles. They should also stay out of the dense, boggy woodlands where the search was underway, authorities said.
On Sunday, some residents began getting out of their homes for the first time since Thursday.
"Basically, we were locked in our own house," said Lukasz Drozdzewski, who was washing clothes at a nearby laundromat with his wife and three young sons. "Today's the first day we've been out."
Drozdzewski lost a day of pay Friday when he couldn't drive to work. His sons' school was closed Thursday and Friday because of the manhunt.
Drozdzewski is a little worried for his family's safety, he said, but is ready for life to go on.
"I'm not going to change my life because of one person," he said.
Authorities say Frein used a high-powered rifle to kill Cpl. Bryon Dickson - a married ex-Marine with two sons - and wound Trooper Alex Douglass outside the barracks in Blooming Grove.
Though police described Frein as a survivalist with a grudge against police, some who know him said he has not always played the loner.
Frein joined a group that performed military re-enactments of Eastern European conflicts in the modern era and played a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor - earning him a mention in the movie database IMDb. He also helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.
"He was a very friendly guy to me," said Jeremy Hornbaker, who hired him for the documentary. "We left on very good terms."
Frein's father, retired Army Maj. E. Michael Frein, told police that he had taught his son to shoot. He "doesn't miss," the father told state police during a search of the family home, when he also disclosed that an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope were missing. A copy of the book, "Sniper Training and Employment," was found in his bedroom.
Frein's only known legal problems stemmed from the 2004 theft of some vendor items at a World War II re-enactment in Odessa, New York. He failed to show for his trial, and was arrested in Pennsylvania as a fugitive from justice.
The FBI's Most Wanted poster describes him as 6-foot-1, 165 pounds. State police said he apparently cut his hair into a wide Mohawk in preparation for the attack. He was also described as a heavy smoker.
Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman, said a report of gunfire on Friday night was not linked to the search.