Those who knew Christopher Jordan Dorner during college
expressed shock at the news that the former college football player is allegedly
responsible for shootings that have left three people dead and two wounded.
Dorner attended Southern Utah University from 1997 to 2001
and graduated with a bachelor of science with a major in political science and
a minor in psychology, a university spokesman said.
Neil Gardner, an assistant athletic director who works with the student athletes in media relations, interacted with Dorner when he was
on the school’s football team during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Gardner said Dorner
was a backup running back who didn’t play a lot, but was “never a disgruntled
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“When he was in college he was a great kid,” Gardner said. “He was a kid you
hoped would do well. He was polite. I liked him.”
Jamie Usera, an attorney in Salem, Ore., said he met Dorner in the spring of 1998 at
Southern Utah. Usera, who grew up in Alaska, said he and Dorner, an African
American from Southern California, bonded over their shared feelings of culture
shock that came with being outsiders on the predominantly white, Mormon campus.
Usera and Dorner eventually joined the football
team as running backs and became good friends, Usera
said. They shared long hours on the practice field, but neither saw much
playing time and both decided to quit the team after two years.
TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer
The friendship endured throughout their remaining years at
the school. Usera said he introduced Dorner to the world of hunting and other
outdoor sporting. Usera recalled frequent trips into the Utah desert to hunt
rabbits with Dorner.
Nothing about Dorner in college raised any red flags that he was
mentally unstable or capable of such violence, Usera said.
“He was a typical guy. I liked him an awful lot,” Usera said.
“Nothing about him struck me as violent or irrational in any way. He was
opinionated, but always seemed level-headed.”
INTERACTIVE MAP: Searching for suspected shooter
Usera said he and Dorner frequently had lively discussions.
A recurring theme was race relations in the U.S., and the two often had heated
but respectful arguments about the extent of racism in the county, Usera said.