Police: Rifle used in deadly ambush of Pa. troopers
Governor called killing an assassination and said investigators won't rest until they capture the gunman
By Michael Rubinkam
BLOOMING GROVE, Pa. — The gunman who ambushed two Pennsylvania State Police troopers outside their barracks, killing one, used a rifle and might have had formal firearms training through the military or law enforcement, authorities said Monday.
Releasing a profile of the killer, Lt. Col. George Bivens said investigators are focusing on the possibility that he had an "ongoing issue with law enforcement or the government" and was targeting the Blooming Grove barracks specifically.
Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, 38, was killed and another trooper was critically wounded in the Friday night ambush at the barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. The attacker slipped away. Authorities have been combing the dense forest surrounding the barracks and stopping motorists at checkpoints throughout the area to ask if they saw anything that could help lead to an arrest.
The gunman concealed himself effectively, and Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass had no chance to defend themselves, Bivens said. Dickson was leaving the barracks and Douglass was heading inside when they were shot.
"You are a coward" who "did it from a place of hiding and ran," Bivens said, as if addressing the killer. "I want you to know that troopers are working around the clock to bring you to justice. The act that you committed may have been meant as an act of intimidation. It has not intimidated us. The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to bringing you to justice. We will find you and we will seek justice when we do."
Police continued to keep a tight lid on details about the ambush or the investigation, including the number of shots fired, where the shots originated and whether the troopers were able to return fire.
But Bivens provided the killer's profile in hopes it might help authorities catch him.
The gunman might be unstable and ranted about his dispute with law enforcement to friends or on social media, Bivens said. He probably lived in the area and made several trips to the barracks to formulate his plans. He used a .308-caliber rifle and was probably an avid hunter or had formal training, and regularly practiced at a shooting range to keep his skills sharp.
Several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were helping with the investigation. Authorities were poring over old cases investigated by the two troopers — and by others in the barracks and elsewhere — in hopes of turning up a suspect.
A nonprofit group increased its reward offer to $75,000 for tips about the deadly assault at the remote post in the Pocono Mountains. Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, which posted the reward offer, asked anyone with information to call 800-4PA-TIPS or submit the tip online.
Bivens said police are already following up on a number of tips that provided "credible information" about the ambush.
Dickson's funeral will be held Thursday at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Scranton. His wife of 10 years and two young sons survive the 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.
Douglass, a nine-year veteran, was conscious and talking for the first time since he underwent surgery, and investigators planned to interview him.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett said investigators won't rest until they capture the gunman, and he asked the public to "pray for the soul" of Dickson. The governor, who toured the crime scene, called Dickson's killing an assassination and planned to meet with family members.
"This is an assault that was not only just on the individual troopers, it's an assault on the state police, it's an assault on law enforcement, it's an assault on society," Corbett said.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press