Dorner manhunt: New focus on videotape, Mexico
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Tuesday that detectives were examining videotape that might show accused killer Christopher Jordan Dorner purchasing scuba gear at a Sport Chalet store in the South Bay days before his alleged killing spree began.
[Updated, 8:48 a.m. Feb. 12: Law enforcement sources told The Times that officials have confirmed the man in the video is Dorner. He spent $5 to $10 to fill up a scuba tank, the sources said. Investigators have also reviewed store receipts.]
The video was posted on the TMZ website Monday night. Sport Chalet Chief Financial Officer Howard Kaminsky declined to comment late Monday on a report that Dorner bought scuba gear at a Torrance store earlier this month. He referred all inquiries to LAPD media relations.
The video shows a man calmly walking through the store selecting various items that appear to be scuba equipment, then checking out.
The manhunt is now entering its sixth day.
"It is frustrating. We are hoping something will break loose," said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman at a morning press conference.
Meanwhile, an associate of Dorner's was being tracked by investigators, according to court records that suggest the fugitive former police officer may have received help as he eluded a massive law enforcement dragnet.
Dorner, 33, a former LAPD officer, has evaded authorities since Wednesday night when he was named as the suspect in the slaying of an Irvine couple, a crime that preceded a wave of violence and a law enforcement dragnet across California and Nevada.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court raises the possibility that Dorner may have been assisted by an associate identified as "J.Y."
Marine Corps investigators had "been tracking the movements of J.Y., a known associate of Dorner," according to an affidavit filed with the complaint by a U.S. marshal.
As part of a surveillance operation of the associate, Marine and San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators were watching a property last Thursday in the San Bernardino Mountains owned by a family member of J.Y., the records show.
The investigators found a burning pickup truck nearby that turned out to be the vehicle allegedly used by Dorner in a Riverside County attack hours earlier that left one police officer dead and two others wounded, according to the court records.
The criminal complaint, filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, does not detail the exact relationship between J.Y. and Dorner, a former Navy Reserve lieutenant.
The records do provide new details as to why federal authorities developed "probable cause" that Dorner may have been trying to flee to Mexico as law enforcement authorities were widening their dragnet.
Dorner allegedly attempted to steal a boat in San Diego and, after subduing the captain, said he was taking the vessel to Mexico, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in federal court in Los Angeles. Dorner is accused of telling the captain that he could recover his boat in Mexico.
"The attempt failed when the bow line of the boat became caught in the boat's propeller, and the suspect fled," according to the affidavit by inspector U.S. Marshal Craig McClusky.
After authorities interviewed the boat captain early Thursday, they found Dorner's wallet and identification cards at the San Ysidro border crossing. That same day, a guard at the Point Loma Naval Base told authorities he had spotted a man matching Dorner's description trying to sneak onto the base, according to the court records.
Federal authorities told The Times on Monday night that the court papers, filed late last week, reflected their thinking at the time, but they stressed that Dorner could be anywhere.
On Monday, hundreds of officers across Southern California were searching for the fugitive across several counties. Investigators said they were sifting through 800 clues, which began pouring in after authorities announced a $1-million reward for information leading to Dorner's capture.
Dorner allegedly threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, that Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.
The records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities Wednesday, three days after the slaying of the two Irvine victims, one of them the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.
The federal document also provides new details on Dorner's alleged attack against officers in Riverside County early Thursday.
The first shooting was in Corona after an eyewitness reported a person matching Dorner's description at a gas station to an LAPD officer who was in the area to protect one of the officials Dorner had threatened, according to the court records.
"When the officer drove by the gas station, the suspect exited his vehicle and fired an assault rifle at the officer, hitting the officer's vehicle," according to the court records.
The LAPD later said the officer received a graze wound.
About 30 minutes later, Dorner opened fire on two Riverside police officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other. The officers "were in the area searching for Dorner," the court document said. That account conflicts with a statement provided to the media by Riverside police officials, who said the officers were simply stopped at a red light and not looking for Dorner.
— Ari Bloomekatz, Matt Stevens, Robert J. Lopez and Andrew Blankstein