One of the largest manhunts in California history has tracked a rogue ex-cop to a snowy ski resort.
As a winter storm barrels down on Big Bear Mountain, local, state, and federal authorities are still frantically searching for Christopher Jordan Dorner, who has allegedly killed three people, including a police officer, during a rampage meant to unleash "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against his former colleagues.
Dorner, 33, eluded police for hours yesterday along the streets of Los Angeles and Orange counties, turning the areas into veritable war zones. On one occasion, he opened fire with a rifle on officers in Corona who were tasked with protecting one of his would-be targets. One of the officers was grazed in the head.
Soon after that, in nearby Riverside, Dorner ambushed two local police officers who were stopped at a red light. He fired inside the vehicle, hitting both officers in the chest, killing one and injuring another.
During the chaotic manhunt, LAPD officers mistakenly fired on two women who were delivering newspapers, thinking that their truck matched Dormer’s. One is in stable condition with two gunshot wounds to her back; the other was released with minor wounds. Los Angeles Police chief Charlie Beck Thursday called the shootings “a case of mistaken identity.''
Dorner is believed to be carrying an assault rifle and plenty of high-intensity magazines. Asked if Dorner knows what he's doing, Beck replied at a press conference on Thursday, "Of course he knows what he’s doing; we trained him." And according to a manifesto posted on his Facebook page Wednesday night, he doesn’t plan to be taken alive.
By late Thursday afternoon—somehow without being noticed—Dorner had ended up in the Big Bear resort area, where he set his Nissan pickup truck on fire on a forest road and then apparently hoofed it into the mountains. “We followed his tracks through the forest until we lost them,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon. “Our folks are doing everything we can to catch this guy.”
Once police realized that Dorner was there, schools were locked down, as was the resort.
Hundreds of officers, including a SWAT team and search dogs, combed the area while others knocked on the homes that are peppered throughout the woody region, searching to see if the expert marksman had taken shelter in one of the abandoned or vacant properties. Helicopters equipped with infrared equipment flew over the area.
“He may have found a place to sleep last night,” said McMahon.
McMahon said police are somewhat hampered in their efforts today to find Dorner because of falling snow and freezing temperatures. Because of the poor visibility and snowy conditions, helicopters were replaced by 100 officers on foot and snowcats.
One hope is that the winter storm is also making things more difficult for Dormer—if he is still in the mountains, that is. Asked at a press conference if he believed Dormer was still in the area or if the burning truck was just a strategic diversion, McMahon responded: “I can’t tell at this point.”
Also unclear is just how many weapons Dorner is carrying. According to his manifesto, he mentioned having a Russian-made shoulder-launched missile system.
"Do not deploy airships or gunships,” he allegedly wrote. “SA-7 Manpads will be waiting."
"The violence of action will be high,” he continued. “I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty."
In the rambling manifesto, Dorner said he was fired after he reported that his training officer had kicked a mentally-ill suspect named Christopher Gettler in 2007. However, the LAPD disagreed, and accused him of lying. A Los Angeles Police Department Board of Rights hearing found that Dorner lied and he was terminated for making false statements in 2009. Dorner then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of California and lost. The appeals court found that the board made the right determination when they found Dorner “not credible.”
In another part of the rambling message, Dornan issues a plea to journalists to look at his police and life long record. “I want you to investigate every location I resided in growing up. Find any incidents where I was ever accused of being a bully. You won’t, because it doesn’t exist. It’s not in my DNA. Never was…I want all journalist to utilize every source you have that specializes in collections for your reports. With the discovery and evidence available you will see the truth. Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared.”