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Dorner manhunt: 7 cops mistakenly fired on newspaper carriers

At least seven officers opened fire on a mother and daughter team delivering newspapers, mistaking their blue Toyota Tacoma for the grey pickup being driven by a disgruntled ex-cop suspected of killing three people in a violent revenge campaign, law enforcement sources said.

New details emerged Friday about the early-morning shooting in Torrance that occurred hours after ex-LAPD cop Christopher Jordan Dorner shot three police officers -- one of them fatally.

In an interview with The Times on Friday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck outlined the most detailed account yet of how the shooting unfolded. Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of "a tragic misinterpretation" by officers working under "incredible tension," he said.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

In an online posting authorities attributed to him, Dorner threatened to kill police and seemed to take responsibility for the slaying over the weekend of the daughter of a retired LAPD captain and her fiance.

Beck and others stressed that the investigation into the shooting is in its infancy. They declined to say how many officers were involved, what kind of weapons they used, how many bullets were fired and, perhaps most important, what kind of verbal warnings — if any — were given to the women before the shooting began.

DOCUMENT: Read the manifesto

Law enforcement sources told The Times that at least seven officers opened fire. On Friday, the area was pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs.

It was around 5 a.m. in Torrance on Thursday and police from nearby El Segundo had seen a pickup truck exit a freeway and head in the general direction of the Redbeam Avenue residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

A radio call warned that Dorner might be on his way.

A few minutes later, a truck slowly rolled down the quiet residential street.

As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake.

Residents said they wanted to know what happened.

"How do you mistake two Hispanic women, one who is 71, for a large black male?" said Richard Goo, 62, who counted five bullet holes in the entryway to his house.

Glen T. Jonas, the attorney representing the women, said the police officers gave "no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender" before opening fire. He described a terrifying encounter in which the pair were in the early part of their delivery route through several South Bay communities. Hernandez was in the back seat handing papers to her daughter, who was driving. Carranza would briefly slow the truck to throw papers on driveways and front walks.

Though Beck said he does not doubt the women did not hear any verbal commands, he emphasized that it was still possible the officers did attempt to stop the vehicle before opening fire. After the investigation is completed, Beck and an oversight board will decide if officers were justified in the shooting or made mistakes that warrant either punishment or training.

ALSO:

How long could Dorner survive in the cold?

Dorner manhunt: LAPD gunfire hits Torrance homes, cars

Facebook pages with anti-police sentiments support fugitive ex-cop

-- Joel Rubin, Angel Jennings and Andrew Blankstein

 
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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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