Married LAPD couple recall fearing for family during Dorner manhunt
A married LAPD captain and sergeant trained to expect danger on the job say they experienced a new dimension of fear and anguish when they learned that ex-cop Christopher Dorner might be targeting their six children as well as the two of them.
Capt. Phil Tingirides chaired the Los Angeles Police Board of Rights that recommended Dorner's firing in 2008. Dorner is believed to be responsible for killing four people -- including a police officer and a sheriff's deputy -- and wounding three others in his revenge killing spree.
Dorner died last week of what authorities say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Big Bear area cabin consumed by flames after a gun battle with authorities.
But for several days after Irvine police concluded that Dorner killed the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randy Quan and her boyfriend in Irvine in revenge for his firing, more than 50 LAPD families lived under armed guard.
“I have been with the department for 33 years," Tingirides said Tuesday at a news conference. "I have had a number of threats. … I have been shot at ... but when you get a phone call and they tell you someone is after your family and then within a very short distance of your home they already killed someone's daughter, it made me sick to my stomach.”
“I was very overwhelmed," Tingirides said. "We hear threats all the time but rarely do you get threats so specific."
He said he did not know Dorner outside of the board proceeding.
“I never thought anyone would go to that extent," he said. "When we got the phone call, it was about 4 o’clock on a Wednesday.”
“I get a call from my husband … and there was this fear in his voice and I was driving a black and white. … I was on 4th Street and I literally stopped my vehicle because I could hear the fear in my husband’s voice," she said.
Sgt. Tingirides said at the news conference that she would never forget learning about the threat to her family.
“When I got out of the car and saw the fear in my husband’s eyes, I knew this was serious. I knew my family was a target and my husband a direct target,” she recalled.
She said they were initially in disbelief.
“How can a man who has given so much of soul, heart and compassion to this police department with so much integrity be targeted by someone with less than 100 days on the job,” she said of Dorner’s targeting of her husband.
Phil Tingirides, who is captain of the Southeast L.A. station, said for the next several days they shielded their children from Dorner coverage.
“We had no television because the information coming in was overwhelming for the kids,” he said. “The whole time was about being strong, so we did not instill more fear into our children. … The X-Box got used.”
Emada Tingirides said, “We decided to try top get the children out of the house to instill some normalcy to their every day lives. … The second day, one of daughters is a gymnast, so we had to work out the logistics.”
She says when they left the house they did so under guard by Irvine police.
Their children, ages 10 to 24, had questions, but the couple sought to shielded them from their fears.
“We’d go in the garage and cry because we didn’t want our kids to see the anguish and hurt we were feeling. We decided we would remain strong through out the whole ordeal,” Sgt. Tingirides said.
She said to explain the Irvine police guards, they initially told their 10-year-old daughter there was a crazy man trying to do bad things to LAPD captains.
“That worked for her until Instagram and social media," the sergeant said. "My 10-year old was able to ask me, 'Was the family that was killed in Irvine down the street from us, is it the same man that is hunting us down?' "
"At that point, we began to be very truthful and honest,” she said. “Our oldest son asked, 'What is a sniper?' That is when we decided to shut down the media.”
Sgt. Tingirides, who is black, grew up in South L.A., and her extended family still lives there. An online manifesto attributed to Dorner depicts the LAPD as racist, but Sgt. Tingirides said that was not the department she knows.
She said the only time she experienced racism on the job was while working in West L.A. as a young officer, and it came from a member of the public who allowed only her white partner to enter the family's home
Chief Charlie Beck expressed concern about long-term effects on young children of those targeted who lived for a time with a security net of officers.
“The police department is going to have our behavioral science psychologists available to all these families to try and work through this and ensure these kids having some sense of normalcy," he said.
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-- Richard Winton