In a scenario straight out of movie plot, an ex-Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer is on the run after being accused of killing three people in revenge for the “injustices” he suffered on the force.
Christopher Dorner, 33, is suspected of killing two relatives of a former police captain on Sunday, then shooting three Riverside police officers Thursday, killing one and wounding the others. LAPD officers found his burnt-out truck in the Big Bear Lake region of the San Bernardino Mountains, east of Los Angeles, and are now combing the area amid falling snow and freezing temperatures.
Dorner said in a manifesto posted on his Facebook page his actions were revenge for being unfairly fired from the force in 2008. “I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own. I’m terminating yours,” he wrote. Then he listed the names of police officers he felt had been racist or unjust, including Randal Quan, the former police chief whose daughter was killed, along with her fiancé, in Irvine on Sunday.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stressed the danger of the situation at a news conference yesterday.
“Of course he knows what he’s doing; we trained him,” Beck said. “He was also a member of the Armed Forces. It is extremely worrisome and scary.”
Dorner has been in the Navy since 2002, taking leave from the police department in 2006 and 2007 for deployment in Bahrain. He earned a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert metal while in the Naval Reserves. He said in his manifesto he would “utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance, and survival training I’ve been given.”
The saga began Sunday night, when Quan’s daughter Monica, an assistant women’s basketball couch at Cal State Fullerton, and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, were found shot in their car in their condo’s parking structure. Police found Dorner’s belongings, including police equipment and paperwork, near San Diego. Two days later, LAPD found Dorner’s manifesto online. The department quickly sent security to Dorner’s possible targets and began searching for the ex-cop.
Early Thursday, a Corona resident reported seeing the suspect, and as police followed his truck to a gas station, the driver, believed to be Dorner, fired a rifle. A bullet grazed an officer’s head.
Later, two officers in nearby Riverside were ambushed at a stoplight by a motorist with a rifle. One officer died and the other was seriously wounded.
In Dorner’s manifesto, he detailed all the instances of racism and injustice he said he witnessed while on the force, including being “unfairly” removed after reporting his training officer, Teresa Evans, had kicked a severely mentally ill man in the chest and cheek. Evans had already been worried about Dorner’s conduct and deficiencies in his police work at the time. After three civilian witnesses and a policeman testified they did not see her kick the man, Dorner was fired.
“The Violence of action will be HIGH,” he warns the LAPD, after listing the skills and information he has: “I know your route to and from home. … I know your significant others [sic] routine, your children’s best friends and recess.”
In an ironic twist, Dorner also touted stronger gun control laws to prevent shootings like Sandy Hook and Columbine. He decried his support for gay rights yet also varied in his political views. His two favorite presidents are Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush and he wants either Hillary Clinton or Gov. Chris Christie for president in 2016, according to his manifesto. The document lists journalists he admires, including Chris Matthews and Anderson Cooper, and celebrities from Tim Tebow to Charlie Sheen to Anthony Bourdain.
Cooper received a package from Dorner, containing an LAPD coin with multiple bullet holes in it, a note that said “I never lied! Here is my vindication. Evans kicked the suspect,” and a DVD that Cooper said contains testimony that appears to corroborate Dorner’s claims.
At the same time, Facebook fan pages have sprung up supporting Dorner, with commenters calling him a “hero” and claiming “the police are guilty of murder, he is a good cop dusting the dirt off the table.” Twitter has also exploded with supporters calling for the LAPD to be held to account for its brutality.
During the manhunt, police accidentally shot two newspaper delivery women, mistaking their blue pickup for his. More than 100 officers are now spread out through Big Bear, knocking on doors and checking abandoned homes for the suspect.
“We’re going to continue searching until either we discover that he left the mountain or we find him, one of the two,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said today.