PA state trooper killed in “attack on the government”

Law enforcement from three states search for suspects who ambushed two troopers at a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, killing one and wounding the other.

The slain trooper was identified on Saturday afternoon as Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson. The wounded trooper, who was identified as Alex T. Douglass, was in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery at Geisinger Medical Center in Scranton.

“This is unbelievably heartbreaking to all of us,” Frank Noonan, the Pennsylvania State Police commissioner, said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. “Both of them were young troopers with families.”

The shootings took place around 10:50 p.m. on Friday during a shift change at the barracks in rural Blooming Grove Township, near Scranton, the state police said. By late Saturday afternoon, no one was in custody in the shootings, and Commissioner Noonan said they were searching for “a very dangerous, armed criminal.”

The violence appeared to be aimed at law enforcement, or at “the government”, the commissioner said. There did not appear to be a threat to the public, he said, although he said residents should be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious behavior. The authorities did not believe the suspect was in the area near the barracks because they had conducted an extensive search on Saturday, he said.

Commissioner Noonan confirmed that the state police were interviewing a “person of interest” in connection with the shootings, but said that the person was not considered a suspect, and that they simply wanted to speak with him. The authorities were talking to hundreds of people and would be talking to hundreds more, he said.

At the news conference, Commissioner Noonan declined to say whether more than one suspect had been involved in the shootings. Officials announced that the local Crime Stoppers group had offered a $20,000 reward for information in the case.

“It’s a grave concern to us,” Commissioner Noonan said of the shooting, “and we are putting every resource available to the Pennsylvania State Police or law enforcement in Pennsylvania in action.”

Blooming Grove, a township in Pike County with a population of about 5,000, is about 35 miles east of Scranton and close to Pennsylvania’s border with New York and New Jersey. Law enforcement officials from those states were assisting in the manhunt, which was being conducted on foot and in helicopters. The township has thousands of acres of state forest and game lands.

Local news media reported that Corporal Dickson and his wife, Tiffany, had two sons, one in kindergarten and the other in second grade.

Corporal Dickson graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in 2007 and was stationed for the most of his career with Troop N in Hazleton. Neighbors told The Times-Tribune newspaper in Scranton that he had been assigned to the Blooming Grove barracks within the last few months.

On Saturday afternoon, Gov. Tom Corbett called the shootings a “cowardly act” and said he was praying for Corporal Dickson’s family and for Mr. Douglass’s full recovery. The attack showed that “first responders face constant danger in order that the rest of us may live in peace and safety.”

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