Mountain Manhunt For Ex-Cop Accused Of Killing 3 Continues
‘He could be anywhere at this point,’ sheriff says
Originally published February 7, 2013 at 10:08 a.m., updated February 7, 2013 at 7:41 p.m.
A fired police officer who threatened to bring "warfare" to the Los Angeles Police Department went on a shooting rampage that left a policeman and two others dead and set off an extraordinary manhunt Thursday that put Southern California on edge, led hair-trigger officers to mistakenly shoot at innocent citizens and forced police to guard their own.
Christopher Dorner's "Manifesto"
Timeline of Key Events
Key events involving Christopher Dorner, the fired Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing at least three people including a police officer in Southern California and posting a manifesto on Facebook outlining plans to kill the families of those he felt wronged him:
- Sunday, Feb. 3: Monica Quan, 28, and Keith Lawrence, 27, are found shot to death in their car at an Irvine, Calif., parking structure. Quan, an assistant women's basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton, was the daughter of a former Los Angeles police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that resulted in his dismissal.
- Monday, Feb. 4, about 9:30 a.m. PST: Some of Dorner's belongings, including police equipment, are found in a trash bin in the San Diego-area community of National City, Calif.
- Wednesday, Feb. 6: Irvine police announce they are looking for Dorner as a suspect in the killings of Quan and Lawrence, and say he implicated himself in the killings in a manifesto posted on Facebook. U.S. marshals and other law enforcement officials, acting on a credible lead, search Wednesday night for Dorner in San Diego's Point Loma area.
- Wednesday, Feb. 6, 10:30 p.m.: A man matching Dorner's description tries to steal a 47-foot boat from a San Diego marina, but the engine won't start. An 81-year-old man on the boat is tied up but unhurt.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 1:30 a.m.: In the Riverside County community of Corona, Calif., two LAPD officers assigned to protect a person named in the manifesto chase a vehicle they believe is Dorner's. One officer is grazed in the forehead during a shootout, and the gunman flees. A short time later, a gunman believed to be Dorner ambushes two Riverside police officers who had stopped at a red light during a routine patrol. One officer is killed and the other critically injured.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 2:18 a.m.: A shuttle bus driver turns in a wallet with an LAPD badge and a picture ID of Dorner to San Diego police. The wallet is found less than five miles from the boat, near San Diego International Airport.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 5:15 a.m.: LAPD officers guarding a manifesto target in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance open fire on a truck they mistakenly believe to be Dorner's. Two women are wounded. A short time later, Torrance police are involved in a second shooting involving a different truck they also mistake for Dorner's. Nobody is hurt.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 8:30 a.m.: Reports surface that authorities are investigating a burned pickup truck near the Big Bear ski area in the San Bernardino Mountains. A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy says there have been no sightings of Dorner but local school officials decide to put schools in lockdown.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:30 a.m.: Authorities in central and northern Arizona are alerted about the manhunt for Dorner along with a description of the vehicle he may be driving.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:40 a.m.: Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego is locked down after a Navy worker reports seeing someone who resembles Dorner. Two hours later, Navy officials say they don't believe Dorner was on base.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 2:30 p.m.: Authorities confirm that the pickup truck found near Bear Mountain ski area at Big Bear Lake belongs to Dorner.
- Thursday, Feb. 7, 3:30 p.m.: San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon announces at a news conference that a door-to-door search for Dorner is under way.
The search for Christopher Dorner had three states and Mexico on alert before shifting Thursday afternoon to the snowy mountains around Big Bear Lake, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where police found his burned-out pickup truck and tracks leading away from the vehicle.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said 125 officers were going door to door and attempting to track the suspect, and that a SWAT team was providing added security to those in the community. Schools were put on lockdown while investigators examined the vehicle and spread out across the area.
"He could be anywhere at this point, and that's why we're searching door to door," McMahon said, adding that the manhunt would continue "as long as we can." A snow storm was expected in the region with temperatures dipping into the teens overnight.
Said LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore: "This complex and violent investigation has led to this mountain."
The pickup was to be processed at a crime lab Thursday evening and examined by investigators from multiple agencies.
Throughout the day, thousands of heavily armed officers patrolled highways throughout Southern California, while some stood guard outside the homes of people police say Dorner vowed to attack in a rant posted online. Electronic billboards, which usually alert motorists about the commute, urged them to call 911 if they saw him.
"I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" to Los Angeles Police Department officers, on or off duty, said the manifesto. It also asserted: "Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared. That's what this is about, my name. A man is nothing without his name."
Dorner, 33, had several weapons including an assault rifle, said police Chief Charlie Beck, who urged him to surrender at a press conference held amid heightened security in an underground room at police headquarters.
"Of course he knows what he's doing; we trained him. He was also a member of the Armed Forces," he said. "It is extremely worrisome and scary."
The nearly 10,000-member LAPD dispatched officers to protect more than 40 potential targets, including police officers and their families. The department also pulled officers from motorcycle duty, fearing they would make for easy targets.
"I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I'm terminating yours," the manifesto said.
At one point, officers guarding one location mistakenly opened fire on a pickup truck, believing it matched the description of Dorner's dark-colored 2005 Nissan Titan. Two occupants were injured.
The chief said there had been a "night of extreme tragedy in the Los Angeles area" and that the department was taking measures to ensure the safety of officers.
The search for Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements, began after he was linked to a weekend killing in which one of the victims was the daughter of a former police captain who had represented him during his disciplinary hearing. Thursday was the anniversary of his first day on the job at the department eight years ago.
Monica Quan and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, were found shot in their car at a parking structure at their condominium on Sunday in Irvine. Quan, 28, was an assistant women's basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence, 27, was a public safety officer at the University of Southern California.
Police said Dorner implicated himself in the couple's killings in the manifesto posted on Facebook. They believe he was the one who wrote it because there were details in it only he would know.
In the post, Dorner wrote that he knew he would be vilified by the LAPD and the news media, but that "unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name."
Dorner was with the LAPD from 2005 until 2008.
According to documents from a court of appeals hearing, Dorner was fired from the LAPD after he made a complaint against his field training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans. Dorner said that in the course of an arrest, Evans kicked suspect Christopher Gettler, a schizophrenic with severe dementia.
Richard Gettler, the schizophrenic man's father, gave testimony that supported Dorner's claim. After his son was returned home on July 28, 2007, Richard Gettler asked "if he had been in a fight because his face was puffy" and his son responded that he was kicked twice in the chest by a police officer.
Quan's father, a former LAPD captain who became a lawyer in retirement, represented Dorner in front of the Board of Rights, a tribunal that ruled against Dorner, police said. Randal Quan retired in 2002 and later served as chief of police at Cal Poly Pomona before he started practicing law. Quan did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Dorner said in his online rant that after his dismissal that he lost everything, including his relationships with his mother, sister and close friends.
"Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago," the manifesto said. "I was told by my mother that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I refuse to accept that."
Dorner said he would use all of his training to avoid capture and track his targets.
Dorner also had served in the Naval Reserves, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert medal. He was assigned to a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records, and took a leave from the LAPD and deployed to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.
"I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance and survival training I've been given," the manifesto read. "You have misjudged a sleeping giant."
Earlier Thursday, two LAPD officers en route to provide security to one of Dorner's possible targets, were flagged down by a resident at a gas station in Corona who reporting seeing the suspect. The officers then followed a pickup truck until it stopped. The driver, believed to be Dorner, got out and fired a rifle, police said. A bullet grazed an officer's head.
Later, two officers on routine patrol in neighboring Riverside were ambushed at a stoplight by a motorist who drove up next to them and opened fire with a rifle. One died and the other was seriously wounded but was expected to survive, Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said.
Diaz said news organizations should withhold the officers' names because the suspect had made clear that he considers police and their families "fair game."
The hunt for Dorner also led to two errant shootings in the pre-dawn darkness Thursday.
LAPD officers guarding a target named in the manifesto shot and wounded two women in suburban Torrance who were in a pickup truck, authorities said. Beck said one woman was in stable condition with two gunshot wounds and the other was being released after treatment.
"Tragically we believe this was a case of mistaken identity by the officers," Beck said.
Minutes later, Torrance officers responding to a report of gunshots encountered a dark pickup matching the description of Dorner's, police said. A collision occurred and the officers fired on the pickup. The unidentified driver was not hit and it turned out not to be the suspect vehicle, they said.
In San Diego, where police say Dorner tied up an elderly man and unsuccessfully tried to steal his boat Wednesday night, Naval Base Point Loma was locked down Thursday after a Navy worker reported seeing someone who resembled Dorner.
Navy spokesman Kevin Dixon said a Navy person reported someone matching Dorner's description in the area. Dozens of local police, sheriff's deputies and federal agents were at the base.
The Navy reports Dorner checked into the Navy Gateway Inn on the naval base on Tuesday, Feb. 5 and was supposed to check out the next day, but never did. Brad Fagan, another Navy spokesman, said Dorner was honorably discharged from the Navy Reserve on Friday, Feb. 1. He joined the reserves in July 2002 and earned medals in rifle marksmanship and pistol expertise.
Capt. Terry McManus of the San Diego Police Department said the base lockdown resulted from what authorities believed were credible sightings of Dorner on the base, but the individual was not Dorner.
McManus urged San Diego residents with information about the suspect to call 911 or 619-531-2000.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents shut down some lanes heading into Tijuana at the U.S.-Mexico border and were inspecting cars and questioning southbound drivers as part of the manhunt.
Nevada authorities also looked for Dorner because he owns a house nine miles from the Las Vegas Strip, according to authorities and property records.
Gina Diamante and Guillermo Sevilla contributed to this report.