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Dorner case: Slain sheriff's deputy was known for his laugh

February 14, 2013 |  2:19 pm

It was Jeremiah MacKay’s laugh -– distinct and loud -- that first caught Edward Knuff’s attention several years ago in a Colton Irish pub.

Knuff and the stocky deputy with the infectious sense of humor met at Liam’s Irish Pub for a meeting of the Inland Empire Emerald Society, a nonprofit that raises money for the families of fallen law enforcement officers.

Now, that organization is raising money for the family of MacKay, 35, a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy based in Yucaipa who was killed in a firefight Tuesday in an isolated area near Big Bear.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Police have said they believe the gunman was Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer bent on revenge over his dismissal from the department in 2009. Dorner is suspected of killing three other people, including Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain.

MacKay, a 15-year veteran of the department, was married and had a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son, according to San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials.

MacKay was a man who “laughs a lot” and “had a great, infectious spirit,” Knuff said of his friend. “He was a little boisterous, always having fun, but not obnoxious.”

WHO THEY WERE: Victims in the Dorner case

MacKay was of Irish and Scottish descent and was known to play the bagpipes, making his cheeks turn red, at meetings of the Emerald Society and other occasions, said Knuff, a commercial photographer.

"He would definitely stand out," Knuff said.

On Saturday, MacKay told an Associated Press reporter he knew the danger he faced as he scoured the mountains for Dorner.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

“You just never know if the guy’s going to pop out, or where he’s going to pop out,” MacKay told the reporter. “We’re hoping this comes to a close without more casualties.”

MacKay graduated from Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead in 1995, a school official said. He was the sergeant-at-arms for the Emerald Society.


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-- Adolfo Flores in Yucaipa and Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles