CANADENSIS, Pa. – Pennsylvania state police are defending themselves against complaints that they have unfairly denied residents access to their homes during the manhunt for a suspected killer.
The massive search for 31-year-old Eric Frein, who is charged with killing one trooper and wounding another, has resulted in frequent unannounced and indefinite roadblocks in the village of Canadensis. Some people have ended up sleeping in their cars because their neighborhoods were cordoned off.
In a statement Tuesday night, police said they have been "diligent in respecting the rights of the public while working hard to keep both residents and law enforcement personnel safe."
Authorities say Frein ambushed the state police barracks in Blooming Grove on Sept 12, fatally shooting Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass.
Police believe Frein, a Canadensis resident and self-taught survivalist, has been hiding in the dense woods surrounding his neighborhood.
Last week, troopers issued a "shelter-in-place" order that kept some residents from leaving their houses for more than a day; those who weren't already at home could not go back. Residents contend the directive left elderly relatives unattended and pets unfed, and resulted in lost wages for workers who couldn't leave their houses. The American Red Cross opened a shelter for displaced residents from two townships late Monday.
Adam Christmann said he has been kept away from his home at least twice since the search started. As he waited at a roadblock near his house on Monday afternoon, he said that while he understood the importance of the search, he couldn't help but be frustrated.
"We don't know when we can go home, or you don't know if you can get out," Christmann said. "Families are getting separated."
One resident, Bill Mew, said the lengthy manhunt has been nerve-wracking, especially with police choppers circling overhead.
"You start thinking to yourself, is this guy standing outside your front door?" he said. "So you start looking out the windows, and then you think to yourself, that's not such a good idea, in case he's looking back."