Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

February 11, 2013

Search for fugitive ex-cop sets region on edge

IRVINE, Calif. — Police blocked off a street and stood guard in front of a home in a typically quiet Southern California suburb Sunday, protecting a man they believe has been targeted by a fugitive ex-police officer suspected of killing three people and setting the region on edge by eluding authorities in a sprawling manhunt that has lasted days.

Irvine residents, meanwhile, were left to adjust to life in the midst of a heavy police presence and wonder when things might return to normal.

Authorities have been working to protect dozens of families in the area considered targets based on Christopher Dorner’s Facebook rant against those he held responsible for ending his career with the Los Angeles Police Department five years ago.

Among those the 33-year-old Dorner is suspected of killing is a Riverside police officer, and on the fourth day of the manhunt, authorities put up a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.

“We will not tolerate this reign of terror,” said LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Several tips came in within a few hours after the award announcement, including a reported Dorner sighting that had police surrounding a Los Angeles home improvement store. Police spokesman Gus Villanueva could not immediately say whether the tip was legitimate.  

After days without resolution, Dorner’s fugitive status caused concern among some and downright fear among others in Irvine, an upscale community that the FBI consistently ranks among the safest cities in the U.S.

“If he did come around this corner, what could happen? We’re in the crossfire, with the cops right there,” said Irvine resident Joe Palacio, who lives down the street from the home surrounded by authorities protecting a police captain mentioned in Dorner’s posting.

“I do think about where I would put my family,” he said. “Would we call 911? Would we hide in the closet?”

The neighborhood has been flooded with authorities since Wednesday. Residents have seen police helicopters circle and cruisers stake out schools. Some have responded by keeping their children home. Others no longer walk their dogs at night.

Dorner’s background added to the anxiety. The former LAPD officer also served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and a pistol expert medal. He was assigned to a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records. In his online post, Dorner vowed to use “every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance and survival training I’ve been given” to bring “warfare” to the LAPD and its families.

As tense Irvine residents went on with their lives, police looked into a taunting phone call to the father of the woman they believe Dorner killed last week.

Two law enforcement officers who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation told The Associated Press they are trying to determine whether Dorner made the call telling retired police Capt. Randal Quan that he should have done a better job protecting his daughter.

The bodies of Monica Quan and her fiance were found shot dead last Sunday in Irvine, marking the start of the high-profile case.

Things escalated early Thursday morning, when police say Dorner got into a shootout with police in Corona, grazing an LAPD officer’s head with a bullet before escaping. Authorities believe he then used a rifle to ambush two Riverside police officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other.

About 65 miles away, the manhunt continued in the San Bernardino mountains near the ski resort town of Big Bear, where authorities found Dorner’s burned out pickup truck Thursday. Police have since said they discovered weapons and camping gear inside the vehicle.

The search scaled down as the weekend went on, but a helicopter with heat-seeking technology scanned the area as two-dozen officers went back to some of the 600 cabins they earlier visited door to door.

Meanwhile, police responded to the Sunday afternoon sighting report in Los Angeles, establishing a command post and slowly evacuating a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the city’s San Fernando Valley.  

Villanueva emphasized that the major response was a precaution. He couldn’t say whether Dorner was in the area.

With little apparent evidence pointing to Dorner’s whereabouts, worrisome questions emerged: How long could the intense search be sustained? And, if Dorner continues to evade capture, how do authorities protect dozens of former police colleagues whom he has publicly targeted?

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department has deployed 50 protection details to guard officers and their families who are deemed targets in Dorner’s manifesto.

“It can’t be one guy with a gun in a living room,” Smith said, suggesting that more officers would be necessary to keep families safe.

The department, however, is looking for alternatives if the search for Dorner stretches on, whether it’s reducing the numbers of officers or something else, he said.

There were no plans to reduce protections until Dorner was in custody, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez.

As long as Dorner’s whereabouts are unknown, the police department must provide protection to those named in his rant, said Chuck Drago, a Florida-based police consultant.

“We realize it costs money and it gets expensive, but this is as clear of a threat as you can get,” he said. “We know that if he’s able to get to these targets then he’s probably able to hurt them. The money is always an issue but not when it’s somebody’s life at stake.”

If the search drags on, the LAPD will likely find safe houses for the targeted individuals, much as they would for witness protection participants, instead of posting officers outside their homes, Drago said.

LAPD has remained on either a modified or full tactical alert since the ordeal began, responding only to priority calls and not to those for lesser issues such as public intoxication or business disputes.

Authorities Sunday morning had six cars protecting Capt. Phil Tingirides, who chaired a disciplinary panel that stripped Dorner of his badge. Black and white police cruisers were posted on each end of his street and four more were parked outside his home. At least a half-dozen officers were visibly standing guard.

Meanwhile Palacio, who has to navigate the heavy police presence to get to and from his home, said his family is trying to keep routines normal.

“Life goes on,” he said, “and we’re doing our thing.”

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration _Rich copy.jpg DHS secretary re-evaluating deportation priorities

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. 

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rethinking Pot 420_Rich copy.jpg Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

    Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Submarine Sleep Sched_Rich copy.jpg Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules

    With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the U.S. Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance to life above the ocean’s surface.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Grim work for families as more bodies discovered

    There are no names listed as relatives huddle around signboards to identify bodies from a sunken ferry. Just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP600421099 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 21, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Robot_Rich copy.jpg NASA’s Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Rich copy.jpg Another body pulled from snow in avalanche

    Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results