Pa. families in manhunt area offer 'thank you' to police

Support from the community, one trooper said, only helps morale as officers continue to patrol the area

By Sarah Scinto
The Times-Tribune

BARRETT TWP., Pa. — Eight-year-old Natalie Winot has watched state police and investigators wandering through her neighborhood for days on end.

The two stationed near her house on the corner of Manor Lane and Bear Town Road demonstrated to her and her brother Nicholas how their bomb-sniffing dogs perform their jobs. Natalie now keeps two trading cards bearing the dogs' photos in her school folder.

She and her family showed the officers how to feed carrots to a people-loving deer they call Cindy. The officers snapped pictures of Cindy to send home to their children.

Natalie wanted to show her support for the officers who have helped her family feel safe during a weeks-long manhunt for a suspected gunman in her neighborhood.

"We wanted to thank the cops for helping us," Natalie said.

She asked her mother to help her paint "Thanks PSP" in blue paint on a white poster board and hang it on the fence in the family's front yard.

Natalie's mother, Victoria Winot, 44, had nothing but praise for the officers that have patrolled neighborhoods and watched houses throughout the manhunt for suspected gunman Eric Frein.

"They've been so friendly and so nice," Mrs. Winot said.

Police have searched for Mr. Frein, 31, of Canadensis, for more than two weeks. Visible Police presence in the areas of Barrett and Price townships near Mr. Frein's Canadensis home has decreased in recent days as they offered few new details on the search.

Mr. Frein has eluded police since a Sept. 12 ambush and shooting at the Blooming Grove barracks which left state police Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II dead and Trooper Alex T. Douglass critically injured.

Trooper Adam Reed said Saturday police believe Mr. Frein remains in a 2-3 square mile area spanning Barrett and Price townships. Despite the length of the manhunt, Trooper Reed says morale remains high among officers.

"We all realize this is a department-wide effort," he said Sunday. "Contributions are being made by many different departments from all over the Commonwealth."

Support from the community, Trooper Reed said, only helps morale as troopers continue to patrol the area.

"Words of support are greatly appreciated and are very encouraging for us," Trooper Reed said, "The public support has been awesome."

Those officers were less visible from local roads on Sunday. State police vehicles drove along Snow Hill Road, their drivers occasionally stopping to check in with the driver of another vehicle.

Some vehicles sat parked on Snow Hill Road with officers watching from the front seats. Still fewer officers stood outside their vehicles with rifles at the ready.

Police warned local drivers to avoid parking on side roads off Snow Hill Road as their search continued in the dense woods surrounding the area.

Brian Winot, 44, said he appreciated the way police have handled the search so far.

"They've gone out of their way to be unintrusive," he said.

Still, the ongoing police presence and the hum of search choppers overhead proved a bit too much for the Winot family — they spent the weekend at their house on Porters Lake to catch a break.

"This weekend was a nice respite," Mrs. Winot said.

Like most local residents, the Winot family hoped to see the search come to an end soon. Natalie had one more message for state police beyond what she painted on her sign.

"Good luck!" she said.

Copyright 2014 The Times-Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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