Tracks in snow lead hunt for LAPD killer Christopher Dorner into Big Bear mountains
Ex-police officer’s burning car found near ski resort as details of bizarre 'manifesto' emerge
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Saturday 09 February 2013
The hunt for a former Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing three people has broadened from the Southern California ski resort of Big Bear to the surrounding mountains.
Police and other law enforcement agencies have been scouring the area since Thursday, when the Nissan pick-up truck that Christopher Dorner, 33, is believed to have been driving was found abandoned and burning on a forest service road. A set of footprints led away from the vehicle.
As heavy snow fell on Big Bear yesterday afternoon, hampering the continuing search effort, the San Bernardino County Sheriff, John McMahon, told reporters that the resort's facilities had been reopened, and that he no longer believed Mr Dorner posed a threat to the townspeople.
There has been no further trace found of the fugitive, whom authorities described as "armed and extremely dangerous", and police had determined that he was no longer in the town.
Mr Dorner, a decorated former US Navy reservist, was fired from the LAPD in 2009 for allegedly lodging a false complaint against his training officer. In a rambling manifesto posted on his Facebook page this week, he detailed a series of grievances against the department, and threatened police officers and their families with "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare".
One of those named in the manifesto was Randy Quan, a retired LAPD captain who was involved in Mr Dorner's dismissal. Last Sunday, Mr Quan's 28-year-old daughter Monica, a popular college basketball coach, and her fiancé Keith Lawrence, 27, were found shot dead in their car in Irvine, Orange County.
On Tuesday, Mr Dorner checked in to a hotel used by naval officers near San Diego. The following night, he allegedly tried to steal a 47ft yacht from an elderly man at a marina, in a bid to flee to Mexico. He was thwarted when a rope lodged in the propeller; the 81-year-old owner escaped unharmed. Mr Dorner's old police badge was found close to the scene.
In the early hours of Thursday, 100 miles away in Riverside County, police gave chase after Mr Dorner's truck was recognised. The suspect opened fire, grazing one officer's head with a bullet, and then fled. Minutes later, two Riverside cops were ambushed at traffic lights nearby. A gunman believed to have been Mr Dorner shot dead one and seriously wounded the other.
Before first light, police in Torrance, south of Los Angeles, had shot two women delivering newspapers in a blue pick-up, which they mistook for Mr Dorner's vehicle. A lawyer acting for 71-year-old Emma Hernandez and her daughter Margie Carranza, 47, called the incident "unacceptable". Hernandez was shot twice in the back but survived. Carranza suffered an injury. Their lawyer Glen T Jonas said: "Two older, small Latina women don't look like a large black man."
On Thursday evening, as the manhunt widened to neighbouring Nevada, drawing in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, a vigil was held at Riverside City Hall for the dead police officer, who was 34. Police were protecting around 40 other police officials named in Mr Dorner's internet post.
Details of that manifesto began to be disseminated on Thursday, when it also emerged that Mr Dorner had sent a hard copy of his screed to the CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper, along with an LAPD gold coin, which he appeared to have riddled with bullet holes.
In the document, Mr Dorner complimented a number of journalists, including Cooper and Piers Morgan, as well as celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, Ellen Degeneres and the chef Anthony Bourdain. He claimed to be in favour of gun control and gay rights, and offered political advice to President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Mr Dorner cited Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" as his favourite piece of music, and lamented that he would be unlikely to see the comedy sequel The Hangover III.
He listed a number of female stars whom he described as "the most beautiful women on this planet," but reserved special praise for Michelle Obama and her haircut. "Off the record, I love your new bangs [fringes], Mrs Obama," Mr Dorner wrote.
"A woman whose professional and educational accomplishments are second to none when compared to recent First Wives."
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