CHRISTOPHER DORNER MANHUNT

April 10 2013

– All that was left were footprints leading away from Christopher Dorner’s burned-out pickup truck, and enormous, snow-covered mountains where he could be hiding among hundreds of cabins, deep canyons and dense woods.

More than 100 officers, including SWAT teams, were driven Friday in glass-enclosed snow machines and armored personnel carriers to hunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a deadly rampage to get back at those he blamed for ending his police career.

With bloodhounds in tow, officers went door to door as snow fell, aware to the reality they could be walking into a trap set by the well-trained former Navy reservist who knows their tactics and strategies as well as they do.

“He can be behind every tree,” said T. Gregory Hall, a retired tactical supervisor for a special emergency response team for the Pennsylvania State Police. “He can try to draw them into an ambush area where he backtracks.”

As authorities weathered heavy snow and freezing temperatures in the mountains, thousands of heavily armed police remained on the lookout throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico for a suspect bent on revenge and willing to die.

Police said officers still were guarding more than 40 people mentioned as targets in a rant they said Dorner posted on Facebook. He 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.

At noon, police and U.S. marshals accompanied by computer forensics specialists used a search warrant to remove about 10 paper grocery bags of evidence from his mother’s single-story house in the Orange County city of La Palma. Dorner’s mother and sister cooperated with the search, a police spokesman said.

The manhunt had Southern California residents on edge. Unconfirmed sightings were reported near Barstow, about 60 miles north of the mountain search, and in downtown Los Angeles.

Some law enforcement officials said he appeared to be everywhere and nowhere, and speculated that he was trying to spread out their resources.

For the time being, their focus was on the mountains 80 miles east of Los Angeles – a snowy wilderness, filled with thick forests and jagged peaks, that creates peril as much for Dorner as the officers hunting him. Bad weather grounded helicopters with heat-sensing technology.

After the discovery of his truck Thursday afternoon, SWAT teams in camouflage started scouring the mountains.

As officers worked through the night, a storm blew in, possibly covering tracks that had led them away from his truck but offering the possibility of a fresh trail to follow.

“The snow is great for tracking folks as well as looking at each individual cabin to see if there’s any signs of forced entry,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.

The small army hunting him has the advantage of strength in numbers and access to resources, such as special weapons, to bring him in.

In his online rant, Dorner baited authorities.

“Any threat assessments you generate will be useless,” it read. “I have the strength and benefits of being unpredictable, unconventional, and unforgiving.”

Without the numbers that authorities have, Dorner holds one advantage: the element of surprise.

Authorities said they do not know how long Dorner had been planning the rampage or why he drove to the San Bernardino Mountains. Property records show his mother owns undeveloped land nearby, but a search of the area found no sign of him.

It was not clear if he had provisions, clothing or weapons stockpiled in the area. Even with training, days of cold and snow can be punishing.

“Unless he is an expert in living in the California mountains in this time of year, he is going to be hurting,” said former Navy SEAL Clint Sparks, who now works in tactical training and security. “Cold is a huge stress factor. … Not everybody is survivor-man.”

Jamie Usera, an attorney in Salem, Ore., who befriended Dorner when they were students and football teammates at Southern Utah University, said he introduced him to the outdoors. Originally from Alaska, Usera said, he taught Dorner about hunting and other outdoor activities.

“Of all the people I hung out with in college, he is the last guy I would have expected to be in this kind of situation,” Usera, who had lost touch with Dorner is recent years, told the Los Angeles Times.

Others saw Dorner differently. Court documents obtained by The Associated Press on Friday show an ex-girlfriend of Dorner’s called him “severely emotionally and mentally disturbed” after the two split in 2006.

Dorner served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and 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.

The incident led police to believe he was armed with multiple weapons, including an assault-type rifle. That detail concerned officers whose bullet-proof vests can be penetrated by such high-powered weapons, said LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese.

As a result, 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,” Albanese said. “We have no officers alone right now.”

In Big Bear Lake on Friday, residents were on edge about the manhunt even as ski slopes remained open.

“A lot of people are frightened by it,” said Dennis Pitner. “A lot of people are at home locked in their houses and probably won’t come out for a couple more days, maybe even longer.”

– Greg Risling & Tami Abdollah

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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