Ex-cop Christopher Dorner hunted over California vendetta killings
A fugitive former police officer accused of declaring war on law enforcement in an Internet manifesto and wanted as a suspect in three murders eluded a manhunt for a second day on Friday in the snow-swept mountains east of Los Angeles.
Search teams combed hillsides and homes around a ski area overnight for Christopher Dorner, 33, a former Navy officer presumed by police to
“We don’t know what he’s going to do. We know what he’s capable of doing and we need to find him,” Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, told reporters at the Big Bear Lake resort, about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, late on Thursday.
Police used search dogs and helicopters equipped with infrared equipment in an effort to track Dorner, whose pickup truck was found on Wednesday burning in the snow. But authorities appeared to have lost his trail after nightfall.
As of late Thursday, sheriff’s deputies had gone door to door to about half of the 400 vacation homes in the area without finding signs of forced entry, and no vehicles were reported stolen in the area. A heavy snowfall on Friday morning complicated search efforts.
The California Highway Patrol said early Friday it was checking unconfirmed reports that someone fitting Dorner’s description was spotted driving a white car near the desert town of Barstow, over the mountains about 50 miles north of Big Bear. But Highway Patrol spokesman, Officer Cliff Porter, said the report could turn out to be a false alarm.
Police have said they believe Dorner was carrying multiple weapons, including an assault-style rifle, though the manifesto attributed to the suspect suggested he might be more heavily armed.
“Do not deploy airships or gunships. SA-7 Manpads will be waiting,” the message said, in a reference to a Russian-made shoulder-launched missile system.
“The violence of action will be high…I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) uniform whether on or off duty,” he allegedly wrote.
Police said they had taken steps to protect about 40 potential targets mentioned in the online declaration.
Dorner first came to public attention on Wednesday when he was named as a suspect in the weekend killings of a university security officer and his fiance, college basketball coach Monica Quan, 28, in Irvine, about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. They were found shot to death on Sunday in a car at the top of a parking structure.
Quan was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary action that led to his firing in 2008. Police say Dorner was dismissed for making false statements accusing another officer of using excessive force.
Two Los Angeles police officers assigned to a search detail traded gunfire with him early on Thursday in the city of Corona, east of Los Angeles, police said.
About 20 minutes later, two other officers were ambushed and one of them killed. They had been sitting in their patrol car at a traffic light near Corona in the town of Riverside.
The officer who died, and whose name has not been released by authorities in an effort to protect his family from Dorner, was an 11-year Riverside police veteran. His partner was wounded and was expected to fully recover, police said.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton warned on CBS television on Friday that the burned-out truck was “possibly a diversionary tactic to draw people into that area while he’s actually heading south.”
The FBI said its agents had searched a Las Vegas residence owned by Dorner, who joined the Navy in 2002 and the LAPD in 2005. He was discharged from the Navy Reserves on Friday, two days before Quan and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, 27, were found slain.
Dorner, who once played football for Southern Utah University, blamed the police department not just for firing him but also for the end of his Navy career and the loss of close relationships.
He listed other grievances as well, such as encountering racism both at the LAPD and as an African-American boy growing up in Southern California.
But it remained unclear what led to the violence nearly five years after his firing and three years after his petition to be reinstated to the LAPD was denied by a judge.
Crystal Lancaster, a neighbor in the Los Angeles suburb of La Palma, where Dorner went to high school and his mother still lives, described him to CNN as “a nice, friendly guy, easy to approach.”