Dorner manhunt: Authorities gear up for continued search in Big Bear
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Snow was falling over Big Bear on Friday morning as authorities prepared for another day of searching for the ex-Los Angeles police officer accused of killing three people, wounding two others and threatening ‘unconventional and asymmetrical warfare’ against police.
Officials were at a local command center by daybreak, saying they had searched homes and forest areas past midnight. They readied themselves for a winter storm Friday that is expected to hamper visibility and mobility not only for them, but for fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner -- if he is still out there.
Authorities are expected to provide updates about the massive, multi-agency manhunt for Dorner, 33, at a 9 a.m. news conference. At a briefing late Thursday, officials said they found fresh tracks thought to be Dorner’s but had not yet located him.
PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said 100 officers were staging at the Bear Mountain Resort Friday morning, preparing to deploy teams. The search would focus on forest areas near where a burned-out truck thought to belong to Dorner was found, she said.
Dorner is wanted in connection with a double homicide in Irvine on Sunday and the shooting of three police officers, one fatally, in Riverside County on Thursday. Authorities described him as ‘armed and extremely dangerous,’ and alerts about him were issued across the state and in Nevada.
In a Facebook manifesto police say Dorner wrote, he ranted against Los Angeles Police Department personnel who he said fired him unfairly. He threatened revenge, and ‘unconventional and asymmetrical warfare’ against police and their families, saying he would stalk them ‘where you work, live, eat, and sleep.’
PHOTOS: A fugitive’s life on Facebook
The search moved to Big Bear after the burning truck was found on a forest road. Schools were locked down, as was the Bear Mountain Resort, as a fatigue-clad SWAT team began combing the area. About 125 officers would eventually be used to search homes door-to-door and follow what was believed to be Dorner’s trail.
Bear Valley schools remained closed Friday as the manhunt continued, although area ski resorts were open. Police said they are working to discern a pattern in Dorner’s recent movements. A man matching his description tried to steal a boat about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Southwestern Yacht Club in Point Loma, tying up the elderly owner, threatening him with a gun and saying he wanted to flee to Mexico.
The thief gave up when a rope got tangled in the propeller. Dorner’s old LAPD badge was found a short distance from the boat.
Three hours later, 100 miles away near an offramp of Interstate 15 in Corona, a resident recognized Dorner’s Nissan Titan pickup truck and flagged down LAPD officers who were en route to guarding one of his would-be targets, police said.
After a brief chase, Dorner opened fire with a rifle, grazing one officer in the head with a bullet that came within inches of killing him, authorities said. Police returned fire, but the gunman escaped.
TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer
Minutes later in nearby Riverside, two city police officers were attacked as they sat in their marked patrol car at a red light at the corner of Magnolia and Arlington avenues, police said. Bullets penetrated the windshield and struck both officers in the chest, killing a 34-year-old veteran and wounding a 27-year-old officer he was training. That officer is expected to survive.
It was a ‘cowardly ambush,’ said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz.
Police across the Inland Empire converged on Riverside to help with the manhunt, and officers held rifles and shotguns as they stood guard outside the police station.
‘My opinion of the suspect is unprintable,’ Diaz said. ‘The manifesto I think speaks for itself as evidence enough of a depraved and abandoned mind and heart.’
The names of the officers who were shot have not been released.
At schools near the shootings, some wary parents kept their children home. Other schools were closed.
As news of the shootings crackled across police radios before dawn Thursday, the hunt for Dorner’s Nissan Titan pickup truck intensified.
About 5:20 a.m. in Torrance, two women were delivering the Los Angeles Times from their blue pickup when LAPD officers spotted the truck.
The police apparently mistook the truck for Dorner’s and riddled it with bullets. The women, a mother-and-daughter team, were rushed to a hospital.
FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for rampaging ex-cop
The mother, who is in her 70s, was shot in the shoulder. She was listed in stable condition. Her daughter was injured by shattered glass.
About 25 minutes after that shooting, Torrance police opened fire after spotting another truck similar to Dorner’s at Flagler Lane and Beryl Street. No one was reported hurt.
At a news conference Thursday morning, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called the situation ‘extremely worrisome and scary, especially to the police officers involved.’ Asked what he would say to Dorner, Beck replied: ‘I would tell him to turn himself in. This has gone far enough. No one else needs to die.’
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-- Phil Willon in Big Bear and Kate Mather