Dorner manhunt: ‘We’re all just stressed,’ Big Bear resident says
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By nightfall Thursday, many Big Bear residents had barricaded their doors as they prepared for a long, anxious evening.
‘We’re all just stressed,’ said Andrea Burtons as she stocked up on provisions at a convenience store. ‘I have to go pick up my brother and get him home where we’re safe.’
Even before authorities had confirmed that the torched pickup truck discovered on a quiet forest road belonged to suspected gunman Christopher Dorner, 33, officials had ordered an emergency lockdown of local businesses, homes and the town’s popular ski resorts. Parents were told to pick up their children from school, as rolling yellow buses might pose a target to an unpredictable fugitive on the run.
About 125 officers were deployed to follow Dorner’s tracks and conduct door-to-door searches. But by late Thursday, the search had proved fruitless.
Authorities said they had reduced the number of officers searching on foot Thursday evening and were relying heavily on aerial support. Nonetheless, they assured residents that the search would continue through the night.
‘The person responsible for that is still on the street and we don’t know what he’s going to do,’ said Cindy Bachman of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. ‘We know what he’s capable of doing ... and we need to find him.’
Dorner, 33, 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 as federal, state and local authorities intensified their search.
Authorities said they found a rambling manifesto published on what they believe is Dorner’s Facebook page that threatened ‘unconventional and asymmetrical warfare’ against police and named at least 40 officers and others.
Dorner has no apparent ties to Big Bear, authorities said.
The ongoing search could be complicated by a winter storm expected to hit the area on Friday. The National Weather Service predicted between 4 and 9 inches of snow, with wind gusts up to 50 mph and less than a quarter-mile visibility at times.
Bear Valley residents were asked Thursday to stay inside their homes and not to answer their doors except for people they know or uniformed law enforcement.
Craig and Christine Winnegar of Murrieta found themselves caught up in the lockdown by accident. Craig brought his wife to Big Bear as a surprise to celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary. Their prearranged dinner was canceled when restaurant owners closed their doors out of fear.
‘It’s definitely scary,’ Christine Winnegar said.
-- Joseph Serna, Phil Willon, Kate Mather and Monte Morin
Photo A SWAT team enters a home on Club View Drive in Big Bear on Thursday, searching for former LAPD Officer Christopher Jordan Dorner. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times