It’s not easy being James Tully these days.
Not only does the Canadensis, Pennsylvania, man have to walk five miles a day to work because he can’t afford a car, but his route also takes him by the exact place in the Pocono Mountains where police have been searching for fugitive Eric Frein for several weeks.
So, why is that a problem?
Tully, 39, bears such a stunning resemblance to Frein, 31, who’s from the same town, that he’s been stopped more than 20 times by cops and has started carrying his driver’s license and work identification on a lanyard around his neck, he told the Pocono Record in a recent interview.
I m worried about what is going to happen with the next one,” he told the paper. “Is he going to shoot first and ask questions later?”
Frein, a self-trained survivalist, is accused of shooting two state troopers, killing one, at the Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania, state police barracks Sept. 12 before fleeing into the woods.
After reading about Tully’s plight, an acquaintance felt so bad for him she started a GoFundMe site titled “Help James get to work safe” to raise money to buy him a car.
“He seems like an all-around good guy – just trying to work and make a living,” Dawn DiBiese Witchy, 40, tells PEOPLE. “He’s not looking for handouts.”
Though her original goal was $2,500, she’s raised $24,125 in just seven days – and says she’s ending the campaign at Tully’s request.
“It’s amazing the amount of people that have supported him,” says Witchy, a factory worker who lives in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
“It gives you faith in humanity that people are actually willing to help him,” she says. “He’s someone that really needs it and doesn’t ask for it.”
Trooper Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police, says he has no personal knowledge of Tully’s situation.
“I have no information pertaining to any complaints from citizens about this investigation,” Kelly tells PEOPLE. “If anyone has made an official complaint, it will be investigated by our department.”
Meanwhile, the new car couldn’t come soon enough for Tully.
He’s been stopped as many as seven times in one roundtrip walk to work, and one recent incident was particularly scary, he told the paper.
“The driver jumped out [of a silver SUV] screaming like a lunatic,” Tully told the Pocono Record and local TV station WNEP-TV.
“He yelled at me to get down on the ground with my arms out and he demanded my name,” he said.
Tully says he complied, told the man his name “over and over again” and “explained that his identification was on the lanyard on his neck but that he was laying on it,” according to the Pocono Record.
The man drove his knee into his back, Tully told the paper.
“From the minute I saw him with that gun I thought, let me survive this,” he said.
This went on for what seemed like 15 minutes or more until a state trooper who recognized Tully from previous questioning arrived and said Tully was telling the truth about his name, Tully told the paper.
While Tully himself could not be reached for comment (his phone got shut off due to his money woes), Witchy says a neighbor has been helping him get to and from his job at J.A. Reinhardt, a machine shop for the aerospace industry, since that incident.
Meanwhile, Frein continues to elude cops, who borrowed an experimental balloon with cameras from the Ohio Department of Transportation to try to find him before returning it: Kelly says the Poconos’ rugged terrain proved too big a challenge for the balloon.
A possible sighting yielded no trace of the elusive suspected cop killer, Kelly said in a news release Wednesday.
Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers: