Ex-LAPD Officer, Who Vowed Revenge, Suspected In Murders
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It's been a tense 24 hours in Southern California. The former Los Angeles police officer wanted in connection with three murders is still at large this morning, despite a manhunt that has spanned hundreds of miles.
GREENE: The search for Christopher Jordan Dorner is now focussing on a mountain resort town of Big Bear, some 100 miles east and 6,000 feet above the city of Los Angeles. His truck was found burned on a forest access road near a ski mountain there. Here's San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.
SHERIFF JOHN MCMAHON: I can't tell you whether he's here or not, because I don't know at this point. But we're assuming that he's still in the area because we're continuing to look. And until we find some other information we'll continue our search.
INSKEEP: Christopher Dorner is suspected of shooting three police officers yesterday, leaving one dead. He's also the prime suspect in the murder of a young man and woman last weekend.
NPR's Kirk Siegler is following this story. And Kirk, how is the search going?
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Well, this massive manhunt, Steve, spanned literally all of Southern California yesterday, but it ended - at least for now - in the town of Big Bear, where more than 100 officers fanned out throughout the town in the area, going door to door, and they're also using K-9 units and air patrols, searching the rugged mountains up there. It's a search that's been complicated by a snow storm and very cold temperatures that moved in overnight. As the sheriff there said last night, you know, he could be anywhere at this point - although the schools and the town are set to reopen this morning, Steve, as are the ski areas.
INSKEEP: So who is Christopher Dorner?
SIEGLER: Well, what we know, he's 33 years old. He's a former Naval Reserve officer, and of course and former LAPD officer, who was dismissed from the department after police say he lied about an incident involving alleged police brutality. Dorner spent a couple of years unsuccessfully trying to get his job back. Now, much of what we know about this is still unfolding because a lot of it is contained within his manifesto - according to police - in which he apparently writes: When the truth comes out, the killing will stop.
Indeed, police say Dorner started making good on that troubling pledge this past weekend when they say he murdered the daughter of the former LAPD captain who represented him during his disciplinary hearings. He's also believed to have killed her fiance. Early yesterday morning, police say Dorner ambushed and shot two police officers who were on a regular patrol in Riverside - that's east of LA; he killed one and critically wounded the other. Police say he also shot an LAPD officer in a separate incident yesterday morning, as that officer was providing protection detail for someone Dorner is believed to be targeting in his manifesto.
INSKEEP: Does the LAPD fear that other people maybe targeted by this man, even as he is being hunted?
SIEGLER: They do. There are billboards up everywhere here with Dorner's face on them, and security, especially in front of the LAPD headquarters downtown, is extremely tight. It was there where LA Police Chief Charlie Beck described Christopher Dorner yesterday as armed and extremely dangerous.
CHIEF CHARLIE BECK: Of course he knows what he's doing. We trained him. He was also a member of the Armed Forces. It is extremely worrisome and scary, especially to the police officers involved.
INSKEEP: Kirk, you mentioned the billboards. There must be a lot of tension-building in this situation where this case is in everybody's face in Southern California.
SIEGLER: Well, you can imagine, if this manifesto targeting police officers and their family - police here are very tense, and in fact there was a situation early yesterday morning outside of one of those police protection details I mentioned - and this one was in Torrance, that's south of Los Angeles. Police saw a vehicle passing by slowly that matched the description, they thought, of Dorner's truck, so they fired on it; it turned out the two occupants were reportedly delivering newspapers. They were taken to the hospital, though their injuries are not believed - at least at this point - to be life-threatening.
INSKEEP: NPR's Kirk Siegler is at NPR West. Kirk, thanks very much.
SIEGLER: Glad to do it, Steve.
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