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Wounded state trooper is home for holidays

The trooper wounded in the September shootings at the Blooming Grove state police barracks has returned home for the holidays.

Trooper Alex Douglass.
Trooper Alex Douglass.Read more

The trooper wounded in the September shootings at the Blooming Grove state police barracks has returned home for the holidays.

Alex Douglass left a rehabilitation center in New York to spend Christmas with his family in Lackawanna County, said Lt. Chris Paris, commander of the barracks.

"His spirits are up," Paris said Monday.

But Douglass, 32, still has a long road to recovery, and will return to New York after the holidays for surgery and further treatment.

The trooper was shot in a Sept. 12 ambush outside the barracks. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed in the attack, which led to a 48-day manhunt for accused shooter Eric Frein.

"Thank you all so much for your love, well wishes, and support!" Douglass wrote in a message posted on Facebook by his brother.

"I have seen all of your posts and truly appreciate how many of you care about me," Douglass wrote.

The Facebook post also included a picture of Douglass, standing with crutches in front of a Christmas tree.

Frein was arrested Nov. 30 after weeks on the run in the woods of Pike and Monroe Counties.

Defense attorney Michael Weinstein said Monday that Frein "appears to be holding up just fine" at the Pike County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail.

Weinstein last met with Frein on Monday morning, and said Frein's family also visits him often.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 5. The hearing had been rescheduled from a date in December after one of his public defenders withdrew from the case.

Following the withdrawal of attorney Robert Bernathy, attorney William Ruzzo of Luzerne County was appointed to work with Weinstein.

Ruzzo is "a fine lawyer," Weinstein said. The two men are currently defending another capital case together in Monroe County. Their client, Rockne Newell, is charged with killing three people when he opened fire at a Ross Township supervisors meeting last year.

The many charges against Frein include murder and terrorism. He allegedly told detectives in the hours after his arrest that he wanted to "wake people up" to his concerns about government.

Officials said the 31-year-old Canadensis man spent years planning his attack and retreat into the Poconos woods. The manhunt for Frein cost the state police more than $11 million and also included help from the FBI, U.S. marshals, and other agencies.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin is seeking the death penalty in his case against Frein.

Paris, the commander at the Blooming Grove barracks, said he and Douglass have not discussed whether the trooper will return to work.

"We're not anywhere near those discussions right now," Paris said. "He is still undergoing medical treatment on a daily basis and physical therapy."

The mood among troopers at the Blooming Grove barracks is somber this week, as Christmas approaches and they think of Dickson and Douglass.

"But we're supporting each other," he said. "We're trying to find what the new normal is."