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Police believe Dorner took his own life

| February 16, 2013
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(AP) Feb. 15 2013

“The information that we have right now seems to indicate that the wound that took Christopher Dorner’s life was self-inflicted,” sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Lacy told reporters at a news conference.

Authorities initially were unsure whether Dorner killed himself, had been struck by a deputy’s bullet or had died in a fire that engulfed the cabin during the shootout.

The search for Dorner began last week after authorities said he had launched a deadly revenge campaign against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing, warning in a manifesto posted on Facebook that he would bring “warfare” to LAPD officers and their families.

Within days he had killed four people, including two police officers.

He killed the daughter of a former LAPD captain and her fiance Feb. 3 and later a Riverside police officer he ambushed at a traffic light before disappearing into the San Bernardino National Forest near Big Bear Lake where his burned-out truck was found last week.

From there he eluded a huge manhunt for several days until Karen and Jim Reynolds found him inside their cabin-style condo within 100 yards of a command post for the manhunt when they arrived Tuesday to ready it for vacationers.

Dorner, who at the time was being sought for three killings, confronted the couple with a drawn gun, “jumped out and hollered `stay calm,'” Jim Reynolds said at a news conference.

His wife screamed and ran, but Dorner caught her, Reynolds said. The couple said they were taken to a bedroom where Dorner ordered them to lie on a bed and then on the floor. Dorner bound their arms and legs with plastic ties, gagged them with towels and covered their heads with pillowcases.

“I really thought it could be the end,” Karen Reynolds said.

The couple believed Dorner had been staying in the cabin at least since Feb. 8, the day after his burned truck was found nearby. Dorner told them he had been watching them by day from inside the cabin as they did work outside. The couple, who live nearby, only entered the unit Tuesday.

“He said we are very hard workers,” Karen Reynolds said.

After Dorner fled in their purple Nissan Rogue, Karen Reynolds managed to call 911 from a cellphone on the coffee table.

Police have not commented on the Reynoldses’ account. But the notion of him holed up just across the street from the command post was shocking to many, though not totally surprising to some experts familiar with the complications of such a manhunt.

“Chilling. That’s the only word I could use for that,” said Ed Tatosian, a retired SWAT commander for the Sacramento Police Department. “It’s not an unfathomable oversight. We’re human. It happens.”

Law enforcement officers, who had gathered outside daily for briefings, were stunned by the revelation. One official later looking on Google Earth exclaimed that he’d parked right across the street from the Reynoldses’ cabin each day.

Timothy Clemente, a retired FBI SWAT team leader who was part of the search for Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, said searchers had to work methodically. When there’s a hot pursuit, they can run after a suspect into a building. But in a manhunt, the search has to slow down and police have to have a reason to enter a building.

“You can’t just kick in every door,” he said.

Dorner’s body identified

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Investigators determined fairly quickly that the burned human remains found after a shootout in Southern California mountains are those of Christopher Dorner, the ex-police officer suspected in a rampage that left four people dead. But the answer to a second question will likely prove more elusive — how did he die?

Evidence including descriptions from witnesses and the discovery of personal items including a driver’s license had already led authorities to figure that it was Dorner who exchanged heavy gunfire with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies at a cabin Tuesday, killing one person and never leaving as the cabin as it went up in flames.

But on Thursday the issue was officially put to rest when sheriff-coroner’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller announced that dental examination had definitively shown the remains were Dorner’s.

Virtually no other information was released. An autopsy report on the charred body was still being completed, and toxicology tests typically take several weeks to return results.

Chris Dorner’s cause of death still a mystery

That means questions are likely to linger over which of three ways Chris Dorner may have died: Was it the hail of gunfire that came from the deputies outside? Was it suicide by the single shot that was heard from inside the cabin as the flames began to rise? Or was it the flames themselves that engulfed both Dorner and the cabin?

The cause of the flames has remained in question in the days that followed Chris Dorner’s Tuesday death.

After milder tear gas had failed to bring Dorner out, deputies shot pyrotechnic tear gas canisters — called “burners” by deputies over the radio during the standoff and by Sheriff John McMahon at a subsequent news conference — into the cabin.

McMahon would only say that the fire broke out immediately after the canisters were sent in, stopping short of saying that they sparked the fire.

He added that the burning of the cabin “was not on purpose, We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out.” Another news conference was scheduled for later Friday afternoon, but it was not clear what the department intended to reveal.

Police: Chris Dorner researched his victims before killing them

LA Police Shootings Baid Chris Dorners body identified: Autopsy report underwaySuspect Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles officer. Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Police Department)

Meanwhile, court documents show Chris Dorner gathered information on a women’s basketball coach and her fiance before he apparently killed them earlier this month.

The Orange County Register reported that Irvine police believe Dorner researched Monica Quan, 28, and her 27-year-old boyfriend, Keith Lawrence. The records also say Dorner may have had documents containing information about Quan and her family.

Police tied Dorner to the slayings after reading a manifesto he wrote in which he sought revenge against those he believed ended his law enforcement career. Quan’s father represented Dorner during a disciplinary hearing.

The search for Chris Dorner began last week after authorities said he had launched a deadly revenge campaign against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing, warning in the manifesto that he would bring “warfare” to LAPD officers and their families.

The manhunt for Dorner brought police to Big Bear Lake, 80 miles east of Los Angeles, after his burned-out pickup truck was found abandoned last week. His footprints disappeared on frozen soil and hundreds of officers who searched the area and checked out each building failed to find him.

Dorner was hiding across the street

By TAMI ABDOLLAH, Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner hid in a mountain condominium as a door-to-door manhunt took place outside and, after he finally made his break, apparently killed himself with a gunshot to the head amid a fiery battle with police.

Dorner is believed to have entered the condo through an unlocked door sometime Feb. 7, soon after he arrived in the resort area of Big Bear Lake after killing three people. He locked the door and hunkered down for six days until the condo’s owners came to clean it, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Friday.

Deputies knocked on the door that first night but moved on when they found it locked and with no sign of a break-in, McMahon said.

Condo where Dorner was hiding

“Our deputy knocked on that door and did not get an answer, and in hindsight it’s probably a good thing that he did not answer based on his actions before and after that event,” the sheriff said of Dorner.

When the owners arrived, he tied them up and fled in their car, leading to a chase, a shootout that killed a sheriff’s deputy and, ultimately, Dorner’s death in a remote cabin where he barricaded himself for a last stand.

Police initially weren’t sure if Dorner was killed by one of their bullets or by a fire sparked when they launched incendiary tear gas inside. Now they believe he died by his own hand as the cabin was going up in flames.

“When about a quarter of the cabin was on fire, we heard a distinct single gunshot come from inside the house which was a much different-sounding shot than what he’d been shooting at us,” sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Lacy said.

Dorner was equipped with an arsenal of weapons, including assault rifles with flash suppressors that masked the sound of gunfire and the location it was coming from as he pelted the first two deputies to arrive at the cabin, killing Det. Jeremiah MacKay.

“Our officers had not even pulled their guns out at that point and were not prepared to engage anybody and they were ambushed,” McMahon said.

The next five responding deputies got into a fierce firefight with bullets whizzing through trees. They deployed smoke bombs to block Dorner’s view so they could pull McKay’s wounded partner to safety as other officers provided cover with a hail of bullets, said Capt. Gregg Herbert.

“Every time they tried to move, Dorner was shooting at them,” he said. “There were bullets snapping through the trees.”

Worried he was lying in wait to ambush them, they eventually used heavy machinery to peel back walls and windows to see if they could see Dorner, who used smoke bombs to obscure their view. They eventually resorted to incendiary tear gas, though McMahon said they didn’t intend to start the fire.

The search for the former cop began last week after authorities said the former Navy reservist launched a violent revenge campaign against the Los Angeles Police Department for firing him, warning in an angry manifesto on Facebook that he would bring “warfare” to LAPD officers and their families.

Dorner was dismissed for filing a false report that accused his training officer of kicking a mentally disabled man.

His first victims were Monica Quan and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, both gunned down outside their Orange County condominium Feb. 3. Quan was the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who Dorner said he felt represented the department’s interests over his own before a disciplinary board.

After ambushing and killing Riverside police officer Michael Crain and seriously wounding his partner at a traffic light, Dorner fled to the San Bernardino National Forest, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. His burned-out truck, with a broken axle was found within walking distance of the Big Bear Lake condo where he hid 100 feet across the street from the command post set up for the manhunt.

Dorner entered the condo through a door left unlocked for a maintenance man, McMahon said. He locked it and stayed there as officers went door-to-door checking vacation cabins and condos and used heat-seeking helicopters and metal detectors to search for the fugitive in the forest.

He didn’t appear to be in contact with anyone or have help while on the run, McMahon said.

While some residents have criticized the search for missing Dorner so close by, the sheriff emphatically supported his department, raising his voice and saying deputies “performed flawlessly.”

“Understand we found the door locked at that condominium,” he said. “My instructions were that we were not going to kick the doors open to unoccupied residences or ones where nobody answered.”

It was the condo’s owners, Karen and Jim Reynolds, who finally found Dorner when they arrived Tuesday and unlocked the door that they assumed the maintenance man had locked. Dorner pointed a gun at them, tied them up and fled in their purple Nissan Rogue SUV.

“I really thought it could be the end,” Karen Reynolds said afterward. Even though she was bound, she managed to call 911 moments after he left.

Local game wardens picked up the chase some 20 miles down the road, but Dorner quickly lost them on a side road, where he crashed the SUV and then carjacked a pickup truck from a man at gunpoint.

As he passed other wardens, he fired on them from his open window.

Dorner eventually crashed the truck and ran to the vacant cabin where the fierce gunbattle and standoff lasted hours. Tear gas and fire finally forced the gunman who began the rampage to bring it to an end.

After the distinctive crack of a single gunshot, investigators only heard ammunition popping in the flames as the cabin burned to the ground. Dorner’s body was later found in the basement.

Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus, Greg Risling and John Rogers contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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