Slain PA Trooper Eulogized As 'Impeccable' Officer
Cpl. Bryon Dickson was an impeccable officer who put his family first, friends and colleagues said Thursday at the slain state police trooper's funeral as a manhunt for his killer continued 40 miles away.
Dickson "was no ordinary trooper," police Commissioner Frank Noonan told hundreds of mourners gathered at St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton.
Dickson, 38, was gunned down late Friday outside his rural barracks in the Pocono Mountains. The days since have been "a whirlwind ... fueled by stress and gallons of coffee," Noonan said.
Police are still searching for the suspected shooter, 31-year-old Eric Frein. He's charged with killing Dickson and wounding another trooper in an ambush that authorities said was likely fueled by his hatred of law enforcement. Schools near the Blooming Grove barracks shut down a second day Thursday even as police said it's likely law enforcement, not the public, would be the target of any further violence.
Mourners attending Dickson's funeral Mass gathered "in sorrow, disbelief and anger," the Rev. Thomas Muldowney said, but he asked them to focus on the positive impact that Dickson made during his life.
Dickson, a Marine Corps veteran who joined the state police in 2007, had worked as a patrol unit supervisor in the barracks since June.
The word that best describes Dickson is "impeccable," Cpl. Derek Felsman said during his eulogy. Felsman said his best friend took perfect care of his wife, crafted flawless wood toys for his two sons and always wore a crisp and spotless uniform with gleaming leather boots and belt.
He was a "steadfast soldier of the law" who regularly worked past quitting time to take drunken drivers off the street, Felsman said. But he also had a sense of humor.
Working the midnight shift in Philadelphia and unable to spend last Valentine's Day with his wife, Dickson agreed to eat dinner with his pal Felsman. They walked into the candle-lit Italian restaurant and found it packed with couples, love in the air.
"At first, he couldn't believe we were actually getting a bite to eat surrounded in an atmosphere of mushiness and romance. He quickly overcome those thoughts, and then jokingly asked me to ask to sit on the same side of the booth as him," Felsman said, drawing laughter.
Thousands of law enforcement officers from around the country came to Scranton to pay their respects, lining up 10 deep outside the church for the funeral procession under a cloudless blue sky.
A single bell tolled for more than 20 minutes before the casket arrived, and the sea of uniformed officers stood at attention in utter silence.
As Dickson was being laid to rest at a nearby cemetery, the hunt went on for a man police described as a self-taught survivalist who had expressed anti-law enforcement and anti-government feelings for years.
Police named Frein as the suspect after finding his abandoned SUV a couple miles from the barracks. They said it contained his driver's license and spent shell casings matching those at the crime scene.
State police have warned the public that Frein, of Canadensis, is dangerous, saying he has talked about committing mass murder. They are urging residents to be alert and cautious, but Lt. Col. George Bivens also said he believes Frein's "engaged in a personal battle with law enforcement, particularly the Pennsylvania State Police, and will likely stay focused on that fight."