Dorner manhunt: $1-million reward could jump-start five-day search
Five days into the search for fugitive ex-cop Christopher Jordan Dorner, authorities hope a $1-million reward that will be announced Sunday could jump-start the case.
The frustrating search has spanned from Riverside to Corona to Big Bear to Point Loma in San Diego. There have been numerous false starts, but officials say the heightened publicity has not brought them closer to making an arrest.
Officials said Sunday the search in Big Bear was winding down.
On Sunday morning, authorities received a tip that Dorner may have been spotted down the mountain in San Bernardino, forcing the evacuation of an apartment complex, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
The manhunt for Dorner began last week after the 33-year-old former Los Angeles police officer and Navy veteran allegedly began a deadly campaign that has left three people dead and two others injured. Dorner is believed to be upset over his firing from the police department in 2009.
Dorner's Nissan Titan pickup was found Thursday morning engulfed in flames on a mountain road in the Big Bear area, and law enforcement officials have since focused their search efforts there.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced he was reopening the investigation into the firing of Dorner from the Police Department, the event that apparently sparked his vengeful campaign.
Beck said he was reopening the investigation "not to appease a murderer" but to assure the public his department is fair and transparent. He said he wanted to protect an "increasingly positive relationship with the community" that the LAPD has developed over the last few years.
"I am aware of the ghosts of the LAPD's past and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner's allegations of racism within the department," Beck said in a prepared statement. "...Therefore, I feel we need to also publicly address Dorner's allegations regarding his termination of employment."
Dorner was stripped of his badge in 2009 after a police disciplinary board found him guilty of making false statements against his training officer, Teresa Evans. In August 2007, Dorner accused Evans of kicking a mentally ill man during an arrest in San Pedro.
The internal affairs investigation concluded Evans had not kicked the man and Dorner was lying.
At a news conference Saturday, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith announced a special joint task force was being formed to investigate the Dorner case. Participating agencies include the Irvine and Riverside police departments, the FBI, the U.S. marshal's office and other law enforcement organizations.
Dorner remained a fugitive Saturday despite an interstate manhunt that included SWAT teams, armored-personnel carriers and helicopters with heat-detecting cameras.
In their third day of searching for the 33-year-old Navy veteran, authorities kept their focus on the mountains around Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County.
Dorner's burned-out pickup truck was discovered Thursday morning on a dirt forest service road in the area. The truck's axle was damaged and investigators discovered torched weapons inside the vehicle, law enforcement sources said. Sheriff's SWAT units began scouring the forest for Dorner within hours, but their efforts were slowed by heavy snowfall.
On Saturday, agencies from throughout the region collaborated on an aerial search using two helicopters equipped with infrared cameras that detect heat.
"We can see any person or a rabbit," said helicopter pilot Bill Fitzgerald of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "The only thing that's harder about it here is that the person could be bundled up, so you maybe only get their head or hands."
With the novelty of the manhunt wearing thin and fresh powder thick on the slopes, tourists descended on the resort area Saturday. Visitors enjoying blue skies and 18 inches of fresh snow said they doubted Dorner was near.
"It would be dumb for him to be up here with his torched vehicle," said Kristy Deas, who was visiting with her husband and three children from Edwards Air Force Base. "He's probably somewhere else."
--Joseph Serna, Ari Bloomekatz and Matt Stevens