Police swarmed a California ski area in their search for a fired Los Angeles policeman accused of killing three people and declaring an all-out war on law enforcement officers and their families in a rambling internet manifesto.
Police were drawn to the area on Thursday after the discovery of a burned-out truck belonging to the suspect, Christopher Dorner, 33.
The violence attributed to Dorner began with the weekend slayings of a campus safety officer and his fiancée. The woman was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain who had represented Dorner in disciplinary action that led to his 2008 dismissal and was apparently singled out by the former cop for blame.
It continued on Thursday, resulting in the fatal shooting of a police officer and the woundings of two others.
The manhunt widened in scope and urgency earlier this week when police learnt that Dorner had posted his grievances and threats online in writings they interpreted as a potential hit list.
“This is a vendetta against all of Southern California law enforcement and it should be seen as such,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters.
The search for the suspect stretched from San Diego, where Dorner was believed to have tried to steal a boat on Wednesday night, to the San Bernardino mountains northeast of Los Angeles.
Police descended on a ski area around the resort community of Big Bear Lake, about 160km north-east of Los Angeles, after a truck matching a description of the suspect’s getaway vehicle was found burning in the snow.
Law enforcement confirmed the truck was Dorner’s.
Police had closed in on Dorner on Thursday when two Los Angeles police officers assigned to a search detail traded fire with him in the city of Corona. The head of one officer was grazed by a bullet, police said.
Two other officers were ambushed – one of them killed – about 20 minutes later while sitting in their patrol car in the town of Riverside, about 100km east of Los Angeles.
At a separate news conference, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said he hoped Dorner could be captured without more bloodshed, but warned that he was mobile and extremely dangerous.
“This is a somewhat unprecedented, or at least rare occurrence – a trained, heavily armed person who is hunting for police officers,” he said.
Dorner was presumed to be armed with several weapons, including an assault rifle, Beck said, although his manifesto suggested he may be more heavily armed.
“Do not deploy airships or gunships. SA-7 Manpads will be waiting,” Dorner wrote, in a reference to a Russian-made shoulder-launched missile system. His claim could not be independently verified.
“The violence of action will be high. I will bring unconventional warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty,” Dorner wrote.
“The attacks will stop when the department states the truth about my innocence.”
Dorner first came to the public’s attention on Wednesday when he was named as a suspect in the weekend slayings of Monica Quan, an assistant basketball coach at California State University Fullerton, and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, a University of Southern California public safety officer.
Quan’s father, retired LAPD Captain Randy Quan, had represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that led to his termination from the department for making false statements accusing another officer of using excessive force.
“I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I’m terminating yours,” he wrote in a portion of his manifesto addressed to the senior Quan. – Reuters