The Ex-Cop Everyone is Talking About (and Looking For)
By Jesse B. Gill
Law enforcement agencies say the 33-year-old ex-LAPD officer is a triple murderer. Some folks on the Internet seem to think of him as a real-life Rambo meets folk hero.
Everybody’s talking about him. More importantly, everybody’s looking for him.
The public first became aware of Dorner last week, when police named him as the suspect in the Feb. 3 shooting deaths of 28-year-old Monica Quan and 27-year-old Keith Lawrence. The couple had recently gotten engaged, didn’t seem to have any enemies but for some reason, were found shot to death in Lawrence’s Kia.
Both were shot multiple times, but nothing in the car was disturbed, so police ruled out robbery as a motive. There was no evidence to suggest the happy couple met their end via murder-suicide.
A day later, investigators got their first solid lead—in the form of a rambling manifesto left on what police said was Dorner’s
Facebook page. The manifesto was quickly taken down, but any reader armed with a cursory Google search can find it. It’s long. It says lots of things. But after it was posted and after police got their hands on it, they named Dorner as a person of interest in the deaths of Quan and Lawrence.
Quan, it turned out, was the daughter of Randy Quan, also an ex-LAPD officer who represented Dorner in 2008, when Dorner was fighting to keep his job. In his manifesto Dorner says he lost that fight in a hearing that ended with him being fired for making false statements against another officer. The department labeled Dorner as a bully, he wrote. He sees himself as whistleblower. In the end, he lost a job he really, really cared about.
Dorner claimed he reported his training officer when she allegedly kicked an arrestee in the face for no good reason back in August of 2007. As a result of his blowing the whistle (as he claims), he lost his job. If that’s true. Of course, just about all the claims in Dorner’s manifesto have to be qualified with the phrase “if it’s true,” since killing innocent people can seriously undermine one’s credibility.
And Dorner’s got an explanation for all that, and to be clear, by, “all that,” I mean, “killing innocent people.”
He said because people like Randy Quan sold him up the river, Dorner said he would target them . . . and their families. Which explains the death of Quan’s daughter, Monica and her fiancée, Keith Lawrence.
“I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own,” he wrote. “I’m terminating yours.”
Dorner wrote that he would bring “asymmetrical warfare” to the LAPD, both the people involved in his firing and just about anyone wearing the uniform. A close read of his manifesto leads one to believe that Dorner sees himself as a freedom fighter, battling the corruption he claims has penetrated every level of the LAPD infrastructure.
Freedom fighter or not, by the morning of Feb. 7, every cop in Los Angeles and Irvine was looking for Chris Dorner. Irvine cops wanted him because he allegedly shot two innocent people to death in their city. Los Angeles cops wanted him because he claims the LAPD stole his life and his name from him, and for that, he plans to kill lots of LAPD cops.
He wrote that Caucasian, black, Hispanic, Asian and lesbian LAPD cops are “high value” targets.
Dorner’s manifesto went wide on Feb. 6, with local news channels detailing all of its unsettling details. By the morning of Feb. 7, just about everyone knew where he was—or rather, they knew where he’d be.
By now the timeline is clear. Sometime around 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 6, Dorner tried to steal a yacht from an 81-year-old man in San Diego, with the alleged plan of sailing to Mexico. That plan didn’t work. When Dorner tried to shove off, a rope got tangled up in the propeller of the boat, rendering the boat inert. Dorner then reportedly tied up the old man, took a few items from him then hit the road.
He wasn’t spotted again until just after 1:15 a.m. in Corona. That’s when a couple of LAPD officers learned Dorner was there. The LAPD officers were in Corona as part of a protection detail, there to look over someone specifically mentioned in Dorner’s manifesto as a target.
The officers went looking for Dorner’s vehicle and found it. A late-model Nissan Titan. Gray in color. As they tried to pull Dorner over, he jumped out with a rifle and opened fire. One of the officers was hit—a graze wound to the forehead. He’s expected to be fine.
At a press conference the next day, an LAPD official claimed the officers’ radio car was disabled, so they couldn’t chase Dorner when he hopped back in his truck and sped off.
East. To Riverside.
At about 1:35 a.m., Dorner stopped at a red light at the intersection of Arlington and Magnolia. Across the intersection, a Riverside police cruiser was stopped at the same light. At a press conference later that day, Riverside police chief Sergio Diaz said the two officers inside that cruiser had no idea they were looking at Dorner’s truck, which put them at a significant disadvantage . . . when he ambushed them (allegedly).
Diaz said there was no exchange of gunfire. Dorner’s gun, Diaz said, was the only voice in a one-side conversation, peppering the police cruiser with rounds. Not only did the two officers not have a chance to return fire, they didn’t have a chance to call for help until it was all over.
And it may not have been the officers who called for help. Diaz wouldn’t go into detail—out of caution that Dorner might target the civilians who helped the officers—but said that after this is all over, there will be stories of the heroism of the civilians who came to the officers’ aid.
Despite said heroism, Dorner’s (alleged) attack claimed the life of 34-year-old Michael Craine, an 11-year veteran of the department. Craine was training a younger officer, who was critically wounded in the attack, but is expected to survive.
After the (alleged) attack, Dorner continued east.
Meanwhile, everyone else was losing their damn minds.
LAPD officers on a protection detail in Torrance opened fire on a Toyota Tundra that they claim was driving down a street (where they were watching over another of target named in Dorner’s manifesto). The truck allegedly had its lights out and the cops lit it up with gunfire. Turned out, the truck belonged to two women delivering newspapers. Both women were wounded, but not seriously. They’ve already lawyered up, and it’s probably safe to say they probably have a sizeable settlement to look forward to sometime in the near future.
About 9:30 a.m., San Bernardino County deputies and U.S. Forest Service personnel responded to a fire about a mile and a half away from Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Big Bear Lake. They found a Nissan Titan engulfed in flames. Several hours later, officials confirmed that the vehicle indeed belonged to Dorner.
By then, the media had descended on Big Bear Lake. So had hundreds of sheriff’s and CHP personnel, all scouring the surrounding neighborhoods for some sign of Dorner. They searched more than 400 homes, many of them vacant vacation spots just south of the lake.
The truck was set on fire, and with it, two AR-15 rifles, according to sheriff’s officials. The truck also had a broken axle and as it burned, tracks led away into the snow.
Before the mountain search was even 24 hours old, fresh snow dumped on Big Bear Lake, helping obscure whatever scant clues were left, indicating where Dorner may have gone. The sheriff-led search party scaled back over the weekend, as the trail went cold. Bear Mountain Ski Resort re-opened, as did local schools.
Now, police all over Southern California are back to square one, though they’re mobilizing one of the biggest manhunts in state history. LAPD’s Chief Charlie Beck on Sunday announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Christopher Jordan Dorner.