A fired police officer who threatened to bring “warfare” to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) went on a shooting rampage that left a policeman and two others dead and set off an extraordinary manhunt that had three US states and Mexico on alert.
The search on Thursday for Christopher Dorner led hair-trigger officers to mistakenly shoot at innocent citizens and forced police to guard their own.
However, the focus of police efforts shifted on Thursday afternoon to the snowy mountains around Big Bear Lake, about 130km east of Los Angeles, where police found Dorner’s 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.
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.
“I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” to LAPD officers, on or off duty, the manifesto said.
“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,” it said.
Dorner, 33, had several weapons, including an assault rifle, said police Chief Charlie Beck, who urged him to surrender at a news 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 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.
Police said Dorner implicated himself in the couple’s killings in the manifesto posted on Facebook.
Earlier on 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 reported 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.