BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — The hunt for a former Los Angeles police officer suspected in three killings continued in snow-covered mountains Saturday as the LAPD’s chief said he would reopen the disciplinary case that led to the fugitive’s firing.
Officials in particular will re-examine the allegations by Christopher Dorner, 33, that his law enforcement career was undone by racist colleagues, Police Chief Charlie Beck said. While he promised to hear out Dorner if he surrenders, Beck stressed that he was ordering a review of his 2007 case because he takes the allegation of racism in his department seriously.
“I do this not to appease a murderer. I do it to reassure the public that their police department is transparent and fair in all the things we do,” the chief said in a statement.
Authorities suspect Dorner in a series of attacks in Southern California over the past week that left three people dead, including a police officer. Authorities say he has vowed revenge against several former LAPD colleagues whom he blames for ending his career. The killings and threats that Dorner allegedly made in an online rant have led police to provide protection to 50 families, Beck said.
A captain who was named a target in the manifesto posted on Facebook told the Orange County Register he has not stepped outside his house since he learned of the threat, and he was taking it seriously.
“From what I’ve seen of (Dorner’s) actions, he feels he can make allegations for injustice and justify killing people and that’s not reasonable,” said Capt. Phil Tingirides, who chaired a board that stripped Dorner of his badge. “The end never justifies the means.”
Saturday was the third full day of a massive multi-agency hunt for Dorner in the San Bernardino mountains, about 80 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, where Dorner’s burned-out pickup truck was discovered Thursday. A scaled-back search party took advantage of a break from stormy weather to search for Dorner using heat-sensing helicopters as vacationing families and weekend skiers frolicked nearby.
A law enforcement officer told the Associated Press authorities found weapons in the truck. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing.
Investigators have been examining the truck to determine if it broke down or was set ablaze as a diversion. Police say the truck had a broken axle. Investigators are trying to determine whether it was already broken when they found it, or whether it was damaged when it was towed away.
On Friday night, authorities served a search warrant and collected evidence from a Buena Park storage unit as part of their investigation. Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of the evidence or say who had rented the unit.
Earlier Friday, another warrant was served at a La Palma house belonging to Dorner’s mother. Officers collected 10 bags of evidence, including five electronic items.
In his online manifesto, Dorner vowed to use “every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance and survival training I’ve been given” to bring “warfare” to the LAPD and its families.
Dorner served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and a pistol expert medal. He was assigned to a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records. He took leave from the LAPD for a six-month deployment to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.
Last Friday was his last day with the Navy and also the day CNN’s Anderson Cooper received a package that contained a note on it that read, in part, “I never lied.” A coin riddled with bullet holes that former Chief William Bratton gave out as a souvenir was also in the package.
Police said it was a sign of planning by Dorner before the killing began.
On Sunday, police say Dorner shot and killed a couple in a parking garage at their condominium in Irvine. The woman was the daughter of a retired police captain who had represented Dorner in the disciplinary proceedings that led to his firing.
Dorner wrote in his manifesto that he believed the retired captain had represented the interests of the department over his.
Hours after authorities identified Dorner as a suspect in the double murder, police believe Dorner shot and grazed an LAPD officer in Corona and then used a rifle to ambush two Riverside police officers early Thursday, killing one and seriously wounding the other.