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October 1, 2014

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Trail of suspected cop-killer Dorner goes cold

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Chris Carlson / AP

San Bernardino County Sheriff, John McMahon talks to the media during a news conference about the search for fired Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Dorner in Big Bear Lake, Calif. Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.

L.A. Former Police Officer Manhunt

California Highway Patrol officers search a truck for former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner at a checkpoint near Big Bear Lake, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Launch slideshow »

LOS ANGELES — The trail of accused killer Christopher Jordan Dorner turned cold Friday as hundreds of law enforcement officers waded through a mountain blizzard hoping to nab the ex-cop accused of waging a deadly war against police.

As night fell at Big Bear Lake, searchers were left wondering if the former Los Angeles Police Department officer had slipped their dragnet and fled the icy mountain peak.

The manhunt resumes Saturday for the 33-year-old fugitive suspected of killing three people, including a cop, and wounding two more while on a revenge-filled rampage across Southern California.

“We don’t know what he’s going to do,” said Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. "The danger is: There is the possibility that he’s still here.

“And the possibility exists that he did leave.”

As snow fell throughout the day, SWAT officers swarmed homes and woods near the 7,000-foot-elevation Bear Mountain ski resort, where Dorner’s pickup was found torched Thursday morning.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said the snowy footprints leading from the burned out truck were likely his.

Riding in armored personnel carriers and snowcats, more than 100 officers canvassed some 200 empty cabins looking for the man suspected of waging a one-man war against those he felt had quashed his police career.

Snow carriers roared. Bloodhounds barked. And police in flak jackets and snow goggles trudged from door to door, tree to tree.

But the search failed to find the 6-foot-tall, 270-pound suspect. He is described as an armed Navy veteran who has rifle and pistol training.

Bad weather grounded helicopters with heat-sensing technology, while schools and ski resorts remained open.

A dozen two-man teams were expected to be on the lookout into early today, Bachman said.

“He could be anywhere at this point,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon. “The search will continue until the suspect has been apprehended or it has been determined that he is no longer on the mountain.”

While authorities endured freezing temperatures in Big Bear, heavily armed police remained on the lookout throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico.

Law enforcement officers were expecting the violent suspect to pop up just about anywhere.

Unconfirmed sightings were reported from Barstow to San Diego, from Downey to a county jail in downtown Los Angeles.

As the burly ex-cop eluded capture in mountains 80 miles east of Los Angeles, local and federal police converged on Dorner’s mother’s Orange County home.

Armed with a warrant, heavily armed officers with the U.S. Marshals Service and Irvine police entered the La Palma home where Dorner had lived, in search of evidence.

Police said Nancy Dorner and her daughter were cooperating.

Residents were on edge knowing someone suspected of killing at least three people this week had been living just down the street. Most hunkered down inside their homes in a neighborhood normally bustling with families.

“They’re scared,” said local resident Kent Castle, who has lived in La Palma 30 years. “It’s a ghost town.”

David Pighin recalled seeing Dorner hanging around the neighborhood.

“He’d park his truck outside. He’d be wearing a military jumpsuit and duffel bag and go inside and not say a thing,” Pighin recalled. “And to find this out, it was quite a shock, to say the least.”

Dorner was believed to be targeting as many as 40 police officers to avenge his firing from the LAPD in 2008, according to a 14-page manifesto he posted on Facebook.

The disgraced officer said he wanted to clear his name.

Dorner wrote in his manifesto that he believes he was unjustly terminated for reporting police brutality and is willing to commit “horrendous murders” and “necessary evil” to change the LAPD.

“The Violence of action will be high,” Dorner wrote. “I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty.”

In a development that sheds new light on Dorner’s personal life, court documents show that an ex-girlfriend of Dorner called him “severely emotionally and mentally disturbed” after the two split.

The documents obtained by the Associated Press on Friday also show the ex-officer unsuccessfully requested a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend, Ariana Williams, in 2006 after he claimed she posted his badge number on a website called Dontdatehimgirl.com.

The posting is signed “anonymous” and calls Dorner “twisted” and “super paranoid.”

Williams denied writing the post. Her attorney didn’t return a call or email Friday.

The alleged cop killer’s campaign against cops and their loved ones ranged from Irvine to San Diego, from Riverside to Big Bear Lake.

The violence began Feb. 3, when Dorner allegedly killed 28-year-old Monica Quan and her fiance, 27-year-old Keith Lawrence, in a car near their Irvine home.

Quan, an assistant women’s basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton, was the daughter of a former LAPD captain who had represented Dorner during his police dismissal hearing.

Hours after police identified him as the suspect in the double homicide on Wednesday, he allegedly tried to steal a boat in San Diego. But he was foiled when a line wrapped around the boat’s propeller, officials said.

Early Thursday, police say Dorner shot at two Los Angeles officers in Corona who had been assigned to protect one of the targets he named in his manifesto. A bullet grazed an officer’s head.

Minutes later, police say, Dorner used a rifle to ambush two unsuspecting cops in Riverside, killing a training officer and injuring a rookie.

The incident led police to believe he was armed with multiple weapons, including an assault-type rifle.

That concerned officers whose bulletproof vests can be penetrated by such high-powered weapons, LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.

Now all LAPD officers have been required to work in pairs, to ensure “a greater likelihood of coming out on top if there is an ambush,” he said. “We have no officers alone right now.”

Still, police throughout the region were clearly on edge, apparently contributing to an incident in Torrance where officers shot two unarmed civilians.

Just before dawn Thursday, Los Angeles police guarding a police captain’s home fired on two women delivering newspapers from a pickup that was driving with its lights off. A 71-year-old woman was shot twice in the back, while her 47-year-old daughter sustained a minor injury.

Their truck, a different make and color than Dorner’s, was riddled with bullets, while other cars on the street also sustained damage.

A few miles away, Torrance police officers first rammed, then shot at, another pickup truck.

The older woman in the first incident remained in intensive care Friday.

“They used deadly force without giving anyone in that car an opportunity to surrender,” the women’s attorney, Glen T. Jonas, said. “You have two basic violations of protocol and the result is that because of that, they are endangering citizens.”

But while a small army of law enforcement officers looked for Dorner, a handful of online posters cheered him on.

Some compared him to Rambo. Some to “the black Jason Bourne.” Others said they didn’t endorse his alleged killings, just his cause.

“It’s a perfect story about a person who wanted to just do the right thing but couldn’t catch a break,” an anonymous supporter told the Daily News.

The search for Dorner extended to the Las Vegas area, where property records indicate he has a home. Dorner owns a small two-story, three-bedroom home in a southwest Las Vegas Valley neighborhood.

Clark County property records show he bought the house at 724 Loughton St., near Fort Apache and Blue Diamond roads, in 2007 for about $265,000.

Police and federal agents said they were watching for Dorner, but had no information he was headed toward Nevada. Metro Police has added a second officer in patrol cars as a safety precaution while the search continues.

Across the city, the manager of the Las Vegas gun store that Dorner criticized in his manifesto said he was a customer but never purchased any firearms there.

Tony Melendez, manager of Lock N Load, said all customers’ purchases are confidential, but the store never sold a gun to Dorner because he was a California resident.

“He never purchased any firearms in the store,” Melendez said.

Contributing to this story were Staff Writers Dana Bartholomew, Josh Dulaney, Larry Altman, Andrew Edwards, Mariecar Mendoza, Ryan Hagen, Joe Nelson, Doug Saunders, and The Associated Press.

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  1. Dorner was probably off the mountain before they ever found his truck.

    This guy is NOT stupid. Someone will make a few million dollars off the movie about this in a year or two.

  2. boftx--"This guy is NOT stupid." Maybe not stupid but certainly a dumbass who seems to have an inability to reason.

  3. Gang members spray bullets at a perceived enemy and hit innocent people...

    Torrance police officers riddle a "...different make and color..." pickup, hitting the innocent women inside...

    Is there a difference between these two acts?

  4. My mistake...
    The article says that it was Los Angeles police who shot up the newspaper delivery pickup.
    The Torrance police rammed and shot at another pickup.

  5. I agree, Dorner had his escape figured out before acting. So he's where they wouldn't expect him.