Manhunt for ex-police officer sets region on edge
- Article by: JULIE WATSON and ELLIOT SPAGAT
- Associated Press
- February 7, 2013 - 7:53 PM
SAN DIEGO - The massive search for a former Los Angeles police officer accused of going on a killing spree unnerved tens of thousands of people across Southern California, neighboring states and into Mexico: Within hours, mistaken sightings of the suspect set off a lockdown of a Navy base and led to mistaken shootings by police of innocent people whose vehicles matched a description.
Mexican authorities were ready to shoot to kill if they saw Christopher Dorner cross the border. On the U.S. side, tens of thousands of local, state and federal authorities scrambled following a flood of calls from people believing they had spotted the man, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 and vowed "warfare to those in LAPD uniform" in a rambling online manifesto.
Authorities believe he shot to death the daughter of a former LAPD captain and her fiance Sunday in an Irvine parking garage, grazed a Los Angeles policeman during a confrontation Thursday morning in Corona and shot two Riverside police officers in an ambush a short time later, killing one.
The Navy shut down its Point Loma base in San Diego after an active-duty service member at about 9:30 a.m. reported seeing someone matching Dorner's description on base. Military officials said Dorner had indeed checked into a hotel on base Tuesday but left the next day.
Navy spokesman Cmdr. Brian Fagan said the 33-year-old former Navy lieutenant left the reserves with an honorable discharge Friday, and likely used his military ID to get on base.
The Navy lifted the lockdown about midday after dozens of police officers swarmed the base and failed to find him.
Signs of his trail sent authorities scrambling throughout the day from state to state and city to city.
In Los Angeles, officers mistakenly wounded two women in suburban Torrance who were in a pickup in the predawn darkness Thursday. One woman was in stable condition with two gunshot wounds and the other was being released after being treated.
Minutes later, Torrance officers responding to a report of gunshots encountered another dark pickup matching the description of Dorner's, said Torrance Sgt. Chris Roosen. A collision occurred and the officers fired on the pickup.
The unidentified driver was not hit and police later realized they had made a mistake, Roosen said.
"We're asking our officers to be extraordinarily cautious just as we're asking the public to be extraordinarily cautious with this guy. He's already demonstrated he has a propensity for shooting innocent people," said Andrew Smith, the LAPD commander.
Dorner is wanted in the killings of Monica Quan, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence. They were found shot in their car at a parking structure at their condominium Sunday night in Irvine, authorities said.
Quan, 28, was an assistant women's basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence, 27, was a public safety officer at the University of Southern California. There was disbelief at three college campuses, Fullerton, USC, and Concordia University, where the two met when they were both students and basketball players.
On Thursday morning, Dorner's wallet and photo ID and a law enforcement badge were found on a street near San Diego International Airport.
Dorner was believed to be heavily armed and wearing military-style fatigues and body armor.
Mexican authorities closely watched San Diego's border with Tijuana and were prepared to shoot him in a confrontation, said Alfredo Arenas, international liaison for the Baja California state police.
The FBI and U.S. marshals provided constant updates.
"We're keeping tabs with them every five minutes to see if he comes to Tijuana," Arenas said. "If push comes to shove, they advised us to shoot to the head."
Arenas said the Mexican navy was also watching out.
Dorner is suspected of tying up an 81-year-old man and trying to steal his boat at the Southwestern Yacht Club in San Diego on Wednesday night. He fled when he couldn't start the engine.
The yacht club is about five miles from where Dorner's wallet was found, San Diego police said.
On Monday morning, authorities found Dorner's police equipment in a dumpster in the San Diego suburb of National City.
Associated Press writers Jeff Wilson and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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