Trooper hurt in attack testifies

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MILFORD, Pa. – The state police trooper who was shot in the 2014 ambush that killed his colleague said Monday that the “coward” who opened fire left him with debilitating injuries, choking up as he described his long, painful road to recovery.

Trooper Alex Douglass testified in the trial of Eric Frein, charged with opening fire on the Blooming Grove barracks during a late-night shift change on Sept. 12, 2014, killing Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II and critically wounding Douglass.

Frein avoided capture for 48 days before U.S. marshals caught him at an abandoned airplane hangar more than 20 miles from the shooting scene. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including murder of a law enforcement officer and terrorism.

Prosecutors say Frein targeted the troopers at random in an effort to spark a revolution.

Douglass was shot through both hips with a high-powered sniper’s rifle, leaving an exit wound the size of a silver dollar. He has undergone 18 operations to repair the damage but said he still has no feeling below one knee and must walk with a brace.

And he is incontinent, describing a severe burning sensation that feels like “taking a serrated knife and sticking it in your rectum and twisting.”

That’s when the fitness buff who once ran a 50-mile ultramarathon broke down, glancing at Frein and asking for a tissue. Frein looked back at him with a blank stare.

Douglass told jurors he had just got to work and was in the parking lot when he heard two loud bangs and a scream. He drew his gun and began walking toward the front of the barracks, where the mortally wounded Dickson was on the sidewalk.

Douglass said he grabbed Dickson by the leg and was preparing to drag him into the barracks when “it felt like I got hit in the back with a baseball bat.”

“It was probably the worst pain you could imagine,” he said. “It felt like your whole body was on fire.”

The bullet severely damaged his intestine and rectum, shattered his hip and thigh bone and left him with other injuries. He said he dropped from a “solid 180 pounds” to 135 in the months after the shooting. He had his latest surgery two months ago with “possibly more to go.”

Douglass’ testimony was the most anticipated of a trial in which prosecutors have introduced hundreds of pieces of evidence tying Frein to the crime. The prosecution plans to rest its case Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, jurors learned Frein did research on how to escape a manhunt more than a year before the attack. The antigovernment survivalist told police on the night of his arrest that he had planned the sniper attack only a few days earlier, but his internet search history suggests he had been mulling it over for a lot longer.

And, prosecutors say, he wrote a letter to his parents. The letter, read to jurors on Monday, was recovered from a computer thumb drive found at the hangar. Addressed to “Mom and Dad,” it spoke of revolution and said, “The time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men.”

The author wrote: “I tried my best to do this thing without getting identified, but if you are reading this then I was not successful.”

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