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Ex-cop manhunt: Police tell Big Bear area residents to stay indoors

February 7, 2013 |  6:27 pm

Authorities urged residents in Big Bear and surrounding mountain communities to stay off the streets as they continue a sweeping manhunt for a former L.A. police officer linked to the deaths of three people and who is believed to be targeting police officers.

Suspect Christopher Jordan Dorner's truck was found burning on a forest road. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said officials connected the vehicle identification number on the burned vehicle to Dorner, 33, the subject of an intensive hours-long manhunt that has stretched across Southern California.

Tracks were found near the truck, but did not lead to the suspect “at this point,” McMahon said.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Multiple agencies, including federal and local ones, remain at scene. About 125 officers have been deployed for tracking and door-to-door searches. Extra patrol cars are also in the community to make sure residents “stay as safe as possible.”

The search will continue as long as possible.

Officials said they are being mindful that the suspect may have set a trap. “Certainly. There’s always that concern and we’re extremely careful and we’re worried about this individual. We’re taking every precaution we can," McMahon said.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Officials declined to stay what, if anything, was found in the burned truck.

Authorities were going door-to-door in the mountain community that includes a total of about 400 homes, of which authorities guessed only about 40% were occupied year-round. Extra patrols were brought in to check vehicles coming and going from Big Bear, McMahon said, but no vehicles had been reported stolen.

"He could be anywhere at this point," McMahon said. When asked if the burned truck was a possible diversion, McMahon replied: "Anything's possible."

Dorner had no known connection to the area, authorities said.

Television footage showed a fatigue-clad SWAT team combing the woods, rifles pointed, and the burned truck being towed away. Federal authorities later ordered media helicopters away from the area.

McMahon called Thursday a "sad and tragic day for all of us in law enforcement."

Several law enforcement agencies are involved in the manhunt for Dorner and alerts have been issued all across California and in Nevada. The Los Angeles Police Department had dispatched units across the region to protect at least 40 officers and others named in a rambling online manifesto that law enforcement officials have attributed to Dorner.

Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2009, is suspected of shooting three police officers, one of whom died, in Riverside County early Thursday.

Dorner also is suspected of killing a couple in Orange County earlier this week who were found shot in a car. One of the victims was the daughter of a former LAPD captain named in the manifesto.

Dorner was believed to be carrying multiple weapons, including an assault rifle.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Searching for suspected shooter

Law enforcement authorities said they were concerned about Dorner's military background and weapons training. The lengthy online message allegedly written by the former Navy Reserve lieutenant threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police.

Dorner received awards for his expertise with a rifle and pistol, according to military records obtained by The Times. He received an Iraq Campaign Medal and was a member of a mobile inshore undersea warfare unit.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, calling the attack a "cowardly ambush," said Dorner is suspected of opening fire with a rifle about 1:30 a.m. Thursday as he pulled up to two police officers waiting at a traffic light.

DOCUMENT: Read the manifesto

The attack was carried out about 20 minutes after Dorner wounded an LAPD officer in a shooting in nearby Corona, police said.

Early Thursday, two women delivering newspapers in Torrance were shot by Los Angeles police who were guarding an officer named in the manifesto.

The women, shot in the 19500 block of Redbeam Avenue, were taken to area hospitals, Torrance Police Lt. Devin Chase said. One suffered a minor wound, and the other was struck twice and listed in stable condition, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters.

"Tragically," Beck said, "we believe this is a case of mistaken identity."


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-- Kate Mather, Andrew Blankstein, Joseph Serna, Robert Lopez and Phil Willon