Big Bear Lake, CA, February 10, 2014 – In February of 2013, many of us began following the news of a disturbed, disgruntled ex-cop as he crisscrossed southern California: A pair of murders in Irvine, an attempted boat theft in San Diego, an officer shot in Corona, and a fatal ambush in Riverside. It was chilling to watch Christopher Dorner’s path of vengeance, even from afar. And then, he was in our neighborhood.
On Thursday, February 7th, CNN published Dorner’s manifesto, in which the former Navy marksman said his killing spree was in retribution for his wrongful termination from the LAPD. The same day, his Nissan Titan was found abandoned and on fire in the San Bernardino National Forest. The County Sheriff’s Department set up a command post in the nearby parking lot of Bear Mountain Resort, and began a massive manhunt aided by SWAT teams with snowcats and, when the heavy snow allowed, aerial searches. Schools in the Bear Valley Unified School District went on lockdown, and did not reopen the next day.
On Sunday the 10th, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner’s arrest and conviction. Meanwhile, searchers in Big Bear continued to trudge through the forest in knee-deep snow, and check hundreds of empty vacation cabins.
Local children went back to school on Monday, but were in another lockdown by Tuesday at 1pm, after a woman reported to sheriffs that she and two others had been tied up by Dorner that morning. The site was a vacation condo where the fugitive had apparently hidden for days, directly across from the Bear Mountain command center.
All three routes off the mountain were sealed off, as law enforcement vehicles pursued Dorner in the stolen truck that he raced down Highway 38 toward Redlands. Dorner ultimately holed up in a Seven Oaks cabin, exchanging hundreds of rounds of gunfire with officers before taking his own life, and that of 35-year-old Deputy Jeremiah MacKay–a father of two who had previously been stationed in Big Bear.
This story is the first in a series of three that will air this week on KBHR.