CITY NEWS SERVICE
A Riverside police officer was shot to death today and another was wounded in an ambush that police believe was committed by Christopher Jordan Dorner, the fired Los Angeles Police Department officer wanted for the revenge slayings of a college basketball coach and her fiance in Irvine, authorities said.
The gunman, who fled after shooting, ambushed the two Riverside officers while they were stopped at a red light, said Riverside police Lt. Guy Toussaint, adding that the two were on “routine patrol” and were not searching for Dorner at the time. The shooting occurred near Magnolia and Arlington avenues around 1:20 a.m.
The officer who died was a 34-year-old, 11-year veteran of the force. The wounded officer, who is 27 years old, underwent surgery and is expected to fully recover, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said.
Dorner is African American, 6 feet tall and weighs 270 pounds. He has been driving a gray 2005 Nissan Titan pickup, California license plate 7X03191, Maggard said. At a briefing this morning, police said Dorner apparently switched license plates, possibly to a plate with the following number: 8D83987.
Anyone encountering Dorner should consider him “armed and extremely dangerous” and should not approach or try contacting him but instead call 911 immediately, police said. Irvine police have established a tip line, (949) 724-7192.
Riverside police can be called at (951) 787-7911.
Arlington and Magnolia are closed until further notice for the investigation.
Before the Riverside shooting, a shootout in Corona also believed to have involved Dorner left a Los Angeles police officer with a graze wound to the head but his partner was not hurt, police said. The two officers are assigned to the LAPD’s Newton Station, said Newton Station Sgt. Ike Ornelas.
According to the LAPD, the attack in Corona occurred near the Magnolia Avenue exit from northbound Interstate 15. The officers had gone to Corona to protect someone named as a potential target by Dorner, a U.S. Navy reservist whose last known address was in the 4900 block of Sharon Drive in La Palma.
“A citizen approached the officers and directed them to a vehicle that matched that of Christopher Dorner’s metallic gray Nissan Titan Pickup truck,” an LAPD statement said. The officers saw someone in the truck resembling Dorner, the truck took off and the officers followed it as it entered I-15, the statement said.
“The suspect then opened fire on the officers while they were in their vehicle,” it said. The LAPD officers fired back, but “it is unknown if the suspect was injured during the shooting.”
Dorner was described as wearing camouflage fatigues and using a shoulder-held weapon during the Corona shootout.
In the LAPD board-of-rights hearing that resulted in his termination, Dorner was represented by then-LAPD Capt. Randy Quan, the father of Monica Quan, 28, who was slain with Keith Lawrence, 27, on Sunday, Irvine Police Department Chief David Maggard said Wednesday night.
Quan was in her second season as an assistant coach for the Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team after holding a similar position at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Lawrence, who graduated from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Academy, was working as a patrol officer at USC’s Department of Public Safety.
Autopies showed that both died of multiple gunshot wounds. They were found in Lawrence’s Kia, which was parked at the top of the five-story structure for the building where they lived.
Dorner, 33, posted a multi-page manifesto online Monday, saying he didn’t mind dying because he already died when he was fired from the LAPD, Maggard said. He wrote that it had been his life’s ambition to be an LAPD officer since he served in the Explorer program, and he blamed Randy Quan for his firing.
“I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own … (so) I am terminating yours,” Dorner wrote to Quan.
The LAPD’s elite Metropolitan squad was sent to protect people mentioned in Dorner’s manifesto. Their names were not released.
The LAPD issued a statement Wednesday saying it was taking the threats “very seriously,” implementing “all measures possible to ensure the safety of our LAPD personnel, their families and the Los Angeles community, and will continue to do so until Dorner is apprehended and all threats have been abated.”
Dorner worked as a police officer from Feb. 7, 2005, until Sept. 4, 2008, “when his employment was terminated,” police said. He was fired for allegedly making false statements about his training officer.
A wallet containing Dorner’s badge and identification was found near Lindbergh Field in San Diego early today. It was found along Harbor Drive by a passerby and turned over to police around 2:20 a.m., according to San Diego police Officer Frank Cali.
It was not immediately clear what agency the badge represented or whether it was legitimate, but the identification was clearly for the homicide suspect, he said.
Police were also investigating whether Dorner was involved in an attempted boat-jacking in Point Loma Wednesday night, according to San Diego police Detective Gary Hassen.
Around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a gunman matching Dorner’s description boarded a 47-foot vessel docked in the 2700 block of Qualtrough Street, police said.
The gunman tied up an 81-year-old man who was on the boat at the time and then tried to pull the boat out of its slip. When he could not operate the vessel, he took some article from the victim instead and left, police said.
Los Angeles and Torrance police were involved in two shootings in Torrance today when officers came across vehicles similar to the one sought by authorities in the hunt for a Dorner.
However, neither shooting involved the gunman, according to police.
“Tragically, we believe this was a case of mistaken identity by the officers,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
The first shooting occurred about 5:20 a.m. in the 19500 block of Redbeam Avenue, where Los Angeles police detectives wounded two people who were in a vehicle matching the description of the one being used by Dorner. Beck said the vehicle was being driven “in the area of one of our primary protection details, one of the people that was under the most serious level of threat.”
“The LAPD officers assigned observed a vehicle matching the suspect’s vehicle driving down the street with the lights turned out,” Beck said.
The chief said officers wound up opening fire on the vehicle. Both people inside the vehicle were hospitalized, and one victim was treated for a minor gunshot wound, while the second was being treated for two gunshot wounds, Beck said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the victims were women who were delivering newspapers, and one was shot in the back and one in a hand.
The second shooting occurred about 5:45 a.m. at Flagler Lane and Beryl Street, The Times reported. No one was injured in that incident.
It has been learned that Dorner filed a lawsuit against the LAPD shortly after his termination in hopes of getting his job back, but was rejected by the court.
Dorner filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2009, asking that a judge overturn an LAPD Board of Rights finding that he falsely accused his field training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans, of kicking a suspect in 2007. Dorner was fired in September 2008 based on the board’s findings.
According to a 21-page opinion by a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal denying Dorner’s bid to get his job back, Dorner told LAPD Capt. Donald Deming in 2007 that he “had something bad to report” and expressed remorse for not coming forward sooner. Dorner then told Deming that Evans kicked the suspect twice in the shoulder area and once in the face, according to the appellate court opinion.
Dorner also claimed that Evans told him not to tell anyone what had happened, according to the opinion.
However, the board, after reviewing the evidence, found no evidence that Evans kicked the suspect, according to the appellate court opinion.
“The board found there was evidence that appellant had a motive to make a false complaint, citing Sgt. Evans’ testimony that (Dorner) was going to receive an unsatisfactory probationary rating if he did not improve his performance and the kicks were reported the day after (Dorner) received an evaluation,” the appellate court opinion states. “The board concluded that (he) was not credible and found him guilty of the charges against him.”
In May 2010, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe denied Dorner’s petition asking that he be reinstated to the LAPD. Yaffe’s ruling was affirmed on appeal in October 2011.
During a news conference today, Chief Beck said he had no intention of reinstating Dorner or clearing his name.
“That case was thoroughly adjudicated,” Beck said. “It was reviewed at multiple levels. It went to the ultimate form of review in the LAPD, a Board of Rights, where two command officers and a civilian representative review the entirety of the case as represented by an attorney, and make a judgment.
“You know, I think in the analysis you will find Dorner’s statements to be self-serving and the statements of somebody that is very unhappy with his lot in life.”
Asked what he would say to Dorner, who might have been listening to the live broadcast of the press conference, Beck said, “I would tell him to turn himself in. This has gone far enough. You know, nobody else needs to die.”
Dorner was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy on Friday, two days before the double homicide, a Navy spokesman said today.
Dorner joined the Navy on July 3, 2002, according to the spokesman.
Dorner joined the Naval Reserves in January 2010 and was not assigned to any specific drills or duties, but was on call in case he was needed, the spokesman added. It’s unclear why Dorner, who achieved the rank of lieutenant on Aug. 1, 2006, was discharged from the Navy.
He served six months in Bahrain from November 2006 to April 23, 2007, according to the Navy, and was stationed primarily in San Diego.
Dorner was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Medal, the Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, a Rifle Marksman Ribbon and a Pistol Expert Medal, according to the Navy.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said today that Dorner has no justification for violence.
Speaking in Sacramento, where he was on hand for the introduction of proposed anti-gun-violence legislation, Villaraigosa said Dorner “is apparently a sick individual.”
The mayor said no dispute Dorner could have with the LAPD justifies the type of violence carried out in recent days.
“There’s no beef, there’s no beef that someone can have to kill three innocent people in the way that he has,” Villaraigosa said. “So whatever problem he has is mental. Godspeed to our police officers that we find this individual as quickly as possible.”
Truck Found Burning
Late today, the manhunt was centered in the Big Bear area, where the suspect’s truck was found burning just off a forest road.
At about 2:30 p.m., the truck was confirmed as the Nissan being used by Dorner, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.
That discovery led to a door-to-door search of the area, the lockdown of Big Bear-area schools and closure of the Bear Mountain ski resort.
“We have currently a search going on with guys going door to door as well as our specialized enforcement detail up in the area where the truck was located,” McMahon said.
“We’ll have officers around the clock, at least 15 to 20 additional officers, driving around just to make this community safe until we can bring this to a conclusion,” he said.
Various media outlets at the scene reported that officers were following fresh footprints in the snow near the area where Dorner’s truck was found.
A tow truck was brought in to take the vehicle out of the area, with armed officers surrounding the truck.
The search for Dorner has stretched across a five-county area.
In response to a request from the Orange County sheriff’s union, deputies in patrol cars tonight will be paired with a partner for the duration of the massive manhunt.
Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, sent a letter to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens requesting two deputies per patrol unit.
Sheriff’s officials responded by ordering two-deputy patrols that began at 6 p.m., according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the association.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said the department “has a tactical plan, but we don’t want to release the specifics on it.”
Dominguez wrote in his letter, “Dorner is a highly trained marksman who has already demonstrated his propensity for killing innocent people. He has made it clear law enforcement officers and their families are fair game.”
Noting a statewide officer safety alert, Dominguez added, “We must do everything we can to keep our deputies safe as they assist in this critical operation to find Dorner before any more innocent lives are lost.”
Dominguez said many other law enforcement agencies have switched to two-deputy patrols.
“The safety of our deputies must remain a priority as they engage in this extraordinarily dangerous endeavor,” he wrote.
In his 6,000-word manifesto, Dorner vowed to kill law enforcement officers and rambled about everything from grade school insults to his admiration for first lady Michelle Obama.
“Think before you attempt to intervene. You will not survive,” he warned law enforcement officials in the manifesto, titled “Last Resort” and addressed to “America.”
Dorner wrote about his termination from the LAPD, its impact on his life and why he believes bloodletting is the only way to resolve the perceived injustices he’s suffered.
“I’ve lost a relationship with my mother and sister because of the LAPD,” he stated. “I’ve lost a relationship with close friends because of the LAPD. In essence, I’ve lost everything because the LAPD took my name and knew I was innocent … The attacks will stop when the (Los Angeles Police) Department states the truth about my innocence.”
According to the murder suspect, the proceedings that led to his 2008 firing from the police force were rigged against him. He goes into detail about how his complaint against a fellow officer — now sergeant — alleging brutality against a detainee resulted in his being the target of retaliation by superiors.
“Don’t retaliate against officers for breaking your so-called blue line,” Dorner wrote. “I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered and libeled me … You have awoken a sleeping giant.”
He made clear his desire for revenge against the LAPD and its personnel, but emphasized that any law enforcement official would be fair game.
“The LAPD created this situation,” Dorner wrote. “Outside agencies and individual officers on patrol … if you recognize my vehicle and … you proceed with a traffic stop or attempt to notify other officers of my location, you will not live to see the medal of valor you were hoping to receive for your actions.”
Dorner’s declaration shifted erratically from one subject to another. He hailed his nearly seven years as a U.S. naval reservist as exemplary and blamed the LAPD for the end of that career.
He called attention to several alleged racial insults, starting when he was in first grade and a fellow student provoked him, calling him ‘derogatory racial names.”
“My response was swift and non-lethal,” he said. “I struck him fast and hard with a punch and kick.”
He alleged that two fellow LAPD officers also used the “n-word” in his presence during a bus ride, prompting him to choke one of them until they were separated.
Dorner’s thoughts turned to national politics, and he denounced critics of President Obama, implying they were bigots.
“I love your bangs, Mrs Obama,” the suspect wrote. “A woman whose professional and educational accomplishments are second to none when compared to recent first wives.”
Dorner also praised Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to implement more gun control in the form of a sweeping “assault weapon ban.”
“The time is now to re-institute a ban that will save lives,” he said, rattling off the names of the “small arms” investigators would find in his arsenal.
Dorner recognized his friends and family by name, asking them not feel ill-will toward him, then went back to talking politics and entertainment.
“Hillary Clinton: You’ll make one hell of a president in 2016,” he wrote. “Ellen DeGeneres, continue your excellent contribution to entertaining America. You changed the perception of your gay community … Charlie Sheen, you’re effin awesome.”
Dorner disavowed any religious moorings, referring to the Bible as “that old book made of fiction and limited nonfiction.”