Manhunt for ex-cop set to resume in California mountain range
A mountaintop search was to resume on Saturday for an ex-policeman wanted in three California slayings, after authorities interrupted the manhunt during the night as snowfall kept their helicopters grounded.
Former Los Angeles officer Christopher Dorner, 33, has declared war on law enforcement officers and their families in a manifesto posted to the Internet that complains of his 2008 firing from the LAPD.
The hunt for Dorner has centreed on the Big Bear Lake resort in the San Bernardino Mountains after his burning pickup truck was discovered in the area on Thursday. Authorities have acknowledged he may have slipped away undetected.
Snow fell late on Friday around Big Bear Lake, which is about 129km northeast of Los Angeles. The temperature hovered at about -7 Celsius.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the manhunt involving over 100 officers, said in a statement on Friday that because of the weather conditions it would not be sending aloft its helicopters equipped with infrared technology used earlier in the search.
With no air support, the search by officers on the ground was also suspended overnight. But it was set to resume at 7 a.m. local time on Saturday, the sheriff’s department said.
The heavily armed officers participating in the hunt for Dorner have used dogs and armoured personnel carriers equipped with chains.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the mountaintop hunt, which began with officers following tracks that led away from the truck, would press on “until either we discover that he’s left the mountain or we find him.”
The truck turned up in the San Bernardino mountain range on Thursday hours after police say Dorner exchanged gunfire before dawn with two Los Angeles police officers, grazing one, in the nearby city of Corona. The officers were trying to catch up to Dorner’s truck after it was spotted in the area.
About 20 minutes later, he ambushed two more policemen in their patrol car at a stoplight in the adjacent town of Riverside, killing one and leaving the other badly wounded, police said.
A former Navy lieutenant, Dorner is also suspected in the weekend shooting deaths in Irvine of a university security officer and his fiancie, the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain singled out for blame in Dorner’s manifesto for his dismissal from the LAPD.
Police said they were providing extra security for about 40 potential targets mentioned in Dorner’s online declaration, which was posted to Facebook but has since been taken down by the website.
Dorner, who once played college football in Utah, blamed the police department not just for firing him but also for ending his Navy career and the loss of close relationships.