Philadelphia News & Search
MILFORD, Pa. – Trooper William Fells had finished his duties for the day and sat down to watch TV for the last few minutes of his shift at the state police barracks in Blooming Grove when he heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot.
Others in the room did not react. “I thought maybe someone dropped something, I misheard it, and I went back to flipping through the channels on the TV,” he said.
When a dispatcher came to tell him two troopers had been shot and he looked out to see them lying on the ground, he said, he began shouting “expletives.”
Then Fells, who had served as a Marine, jumped into action.
His testimony about panicked moments inside a barracks under siege night came on the second day of the death penalty trial of Eric Frein, who is accused of the sniper-style attack on the barracks in September 2014 that killed one trooper and wounded another.
Fells and other troopers testified Tuesday morning, recounting the disbelief and panic that spread through the barracks as they learned of the shooting and rushed to secure the building and rescue their colleagues.
“My thought was … somebody was trying to take over the barracks,” Trooper Robert Golden, who was also there that night, testified. “This was an attack. This was an attack on our barracks.”
Frein, 33, is charged with first-degree murder, terrorism, and other crimes in the death of Cpl. Bryon Dickson and the shooting of Trooper Alex Douglass at the barracks that night. Frein, of Canadensis, Monroe County, eluded capture during a 48-day manhunt in the Poconos, drawing national attention and more than 1,000 law enforcement officers to Pike and Monroe counties. A jury from Chester County is hearing the case, and will be sequestered in Pike County for five nights a week during the weeks-long trial.
Frein, who is not expected to testify at trial, sat listening intently to witnesses Tuesday morning and taking notes on a legal pad. He smiled at his mother as he was led out of the courtroom for a lunch break.
Troopers testified Tuesday morning that they did not rush to aide Dickson, who lay bleeding on the sidewalk outside the barracks, because several of them had experience as Marines and knew that snipers began attacks by shooting one person to draw more outside.
Some troopers stood with guns and shields at entrances and in stairwells.
Others dragged Douglass, who had crawled into the lobby, inside. They pulled a car up to provide a shield while they rescued Dickson from the sidewalk.
One trooper began packing Douglass’ wound, which was on his hip. Douglass – who will testify later in the trial – asked for water and appeared to be going into shock.
Jurors heard Douglass’ voice Tuesday morning, on an audio recording from state police radio of the panicked attempts to rescue Douglass and Dickson.
“Where’s the f-ing ambulance?” Douglass is heard yelling as another trooper rushed to but down blinds to secure windows.
Dickson, meanwhile, was unresponsive as fellow troopers performed CPR. But, some testified, they sensed that he was already dead when they brought him inside.
“I remember slapping Dickson in the face and yelling, ‘Dickson, are you there?’” Golden, who dragged him inside the barracks, testified. “Just looking in his eyes, there was nothing. There was nothing in his eyes at all.”
Because Golden and Dickson both served in the Marines, Golden said he wanted to cover his body with a flag – “it’s just the proper way to take care of our dead.”
There was no flag in the barracks, so Golden asked another trooper to bring him a yellow state police blanket.
On the first day of trial Tuesday, jurors heard a detailed and graphic account of the shooting from prosecutors during opening arguments and emotional testimony from a state police dispatcher who first discovered Dickson had been shot and saw him mouth the words “help me” to her as he lay on the sidewalk in front of the state police barracks.
The trial will continue Wednesday afternoon with more witness testimony.
Philadelphia News & Search