Sunday, February 17, 2013

Manhunt For Fugitive Ex-LAPD Officer Comes to Firey End in Southern California Mountain

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Will Lester

The week-long manhunt for former Los Angeles Police officer came to an end this week as the fugitive ex-cop, wanted for two murders in Orange county as well as the fatal shooting of a Riverside, CA police officer, was killed after a running gunbattle and standoff with pursuing officers up in the mountains around Big Bear, CA.

Former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner was the prime suspect in a double homicide in Irvine, CA earlier this month. The victims were found in a parking structure during the early morning hours of Feb 3rd and identified as Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence. Quan was the 28 year old daughter of a former LAPD officer named in Dorner's manifesto. In the screed, Dorner accused then-captian Randy Quan of failing to adequately represent him during disciplinary hearings in which he filed a false complaint against a fellow officer. Dorner was eventually fired from the LAPD.

In the early morning hours of Feb 7th, Dorner is believed to have exchanged fire with LAPD officers assigned to protect an individual named in the manifesto in Corona, CA. One officer was grazed by bullet fragments and Dorner then reportedly made his way to Riverside where he fatally shot a policeman in an ambush and wounded another.

By noon, the burned out remains of Dorner's pickup were discovered outside of Big Bear, CA- a mountainous area dotted with lakes and ski resorts about 110 miles east of Los Angeles. Authorities mounted a search of the area, but by Friday conceded that Dorner could be hundreds of miles away. Police in Nevada and Arizona were alerted and given Dorner's description. A SWAT team in Northridge searched a home-improvement store after recieveing a call saying that somebody matching the fugitive's description was spotted there over the weekend. Police in the Mexican border city of Tijuana also raided a hotel after responding to a tip that Dorner was staying there.

As it turned out, Dorner hadn't venured as far as anyone had anticpated, entering the unlocked door of a nearby condo and taking the owners' hostage when they returned home. After staying in the condo for the better part of 5 days under of staying almost literally under the nose of the police and media the fugitive tied up the couple and stole their Nissan SUV. However, the man was able to free himself and called the police who now had a description of the vehicle Dorner had commandeered.

Almost immediately, Dorner was spotted by California Fish and Game officers patrolling a stretch of California route 38 and a running gunfight ensued where the fugitive ex-cop comandeered another vehicle.
Details of the chase over icy rural roads emerged late Tuesday as authorities pieced together what appeared to be the fugitive's last, desperate movements.

The encounter began about 12:45 p.m. as Dorner was driving a purple Nissan on Highway 38 when he passed a Fish and Wildlife vehicle.

Dorner's car was tucked behind buses when officers saw him and swung their cars around in pursuit. The murder suspect, authorities said, attempted to evade them by turning off onto Glass Road. At some point, they said, Dorner crashed and abandoned the small car.

With officers still in pursuit, Dorner then stopped a truck driven by local resident Rick Heltebrake, ordering him out. Heltebrake, a ranger at a nearby Boy Scout camp, didn't want to leave his dog behind.

Dorner allowed Heltebrake and his Dalmatian, Suni, to get out and then took off, according to an account from a friend of Heltebrake.

Behind the wheel of the stolen truck, Dorner was once again careening down Glass Road and passed another Fish and Wildlife vehicle coming from the opposite direction, officials said. Again an officer recognized Dorner.

That officer radioed his colleagues traveling behind him that Dorner was heading their way in a silver pickup truck.

When Dorner saw a third Fish and Wildlife truck approaching, he rolled down his window and allegedly took aim. Dorner opened fire as the vehicle passed, strafing the truck with a handgun, officials said.

The badly damaged state truck skidded to a halt. A game warden exited the vehicle and fired a high-powered rifle several times as Dorner sped away, according to authorities.

Dorner subsequently crashed that truck, authorities said, and ran into the cabin.
After crashing the truck, Dorner exchanged gunfire with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies in the woods, fatally wounding Deputy Jerimiah McKay, before barricading himself in a vacant cabin. Deputies fired tear gas into the cabin before the structure caught fire and burned down with him still inside.

According to the San Bernardino County Medical Examiner, Dorner died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, most likely as the cabin was burning around him. The remains found in the charred cabin were positively identified as Christopher Dorner on Friday.

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