Dorner could face death penalty as criminal charges filed
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As a massive manhunt for Christopher Jordan Dorner continued Monday afternoon, prosecutors with the Riverside County district attorney’s office filed murder and attempted murder charges against the ex-cop suspected of killing three people, including a Riverside police officer.
Dist. Atty. Paul Zellerbach said Dorner has been charged with one count of murder, with special circumstance allegations in the killing of a peace officer and the discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, in the death of Riverside police Officer Michael Crain, 34, a married father who served two tours in Kuwait as a rifleman in the U.S. Marines.
The special circumstances allegation makes Dorner eligible for the death penalty.
The former police officer also faces three additional counts of attempted murder of a peace officer for allegedly shooting and critically injuring Crain’s partner and firing at two Los Angeles police officers who were in Corona to provide protection to one of Dorner’s alleged targets. One of the LAPD officers was grazed on the head by a bullet.
The surviving officer, whose name has not been released, was ‘in a lot of pain’ and will probably need several surgeries, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz told reporters Monday. It was not yet known if he will be able to return to duty, Diaz said.
Shortly after the press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered all city flags to be flown at half-staff effective Monday afternoon to honor Crain, a spokesman said.
Funeral services for Crain are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Grove Community Church in Riverside. The flags will remain at half-staff until after the services.
Meanwhile, the full-court-press search continued, though beyond several false sightings there has been little success so far in the hunt.
Investigators have received at least 700 tips about the fugitive ex-officer, and police are continuing to dangle a $1-million reward in the hope that someone will step forward. FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop
There have been no confirmed sightings of Dorner since the manhunt began last Wednesday, and the last known evidence pointing to his whereabouts was his burning pickup truck discovered Thursday on a forest road in Big Bear, officials said.
Hundreds of investigators are continuing to follow up on potential leads, Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman said at a media briefing in downtown Los Angeles. The tips are being prioritized based on the information they contain.
Neiman also stressed that the ongoing search at Big Bear, although scaled back, remains a ‘critical piece of the investigation,’ saying authorities would remain on the mountain ‘until we’ve looked in every nook and cranny.’
Neiman said he does not know how much the multiagency manhunt has cost thus far but described it as a ‘substantial cost to the city and taxpayers.’
Investigators have also been in contact with Dorner’s family, Neiman said, and are hopeful that a huge reward announced Sunday would lead to Dorner’s arrest. His mother and sister cooperated with Irvine police on Friday when they searched the La Palma residence believed to be his last known address.
Authorities also continued to keep an eye on border crossings and airfields.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry said they are monitoring all southbound lanes into Mexico, creating hours-long delays during peak crossing times. Agents were also stationed at all pedestrian crossings into Tijuana, said Angelica De Cima, a customs spokeswoman.
Mexican authorities have also bolstered security at the ports of entry and notified local, state and federal police to be on the lookout for Dorner, though there’s no evidence he has crossed the border.
The Transportation Security Administration is also urging pilots and aircraft operators to be alert and to watch for stolen planes or suspicious passengers. The TSA said Dorner received flight training in the military, but the level of his expertise was unclear.
An Arcadia church school connected to Dorner’s LAPD training officer canceled classes Monday as a precaution, officials said, while Big Bear schools reopened after the search there was scaled back.
The shootings attributed to Dorner began Feb. 3 with the deaths of Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.The two had recently become engaged and were sitting in a car in Irvine when they were shot numerous times in the head.
Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner apparently accused online of not representing him fairly at a hearing that led to his firing. In what police said was his posting to Facebook, Dorner allegedly threatened the retired captain and others he blamed for his termination.
Members of the USC community have also set up a memorial in front of the public safety department on campus that will stay in place until Lawrence is buried. Those who knew Lawrence recall him as a young law enforcement officer with a bright future.
More that 50 LAPD families remained under police guard Monday.
‘Our commitment is to finding Mr. Dorner and making this city safe again,’ LAPD’s Neiman said.
-- Los Angeles Times Staff