Legend in His Own Mind: Rampage Killer in California
Welcome to Crime Raven; true crimes, real-life stories from law enforcement and issues crime fighters face. This blog highlights crimes researched by retired Detective Sergeant Mark Rein, using publicly available information, court records and personal recollections. Content may be graphic, disturbing, or violent. Reader discretion is advised. Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
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The warrior parked his truck just off the curb at the west end of the condo complex. He was familiar with the layout, having scouted it twice in the last two days. One was confirmation that the target still lived there. The second surveillance.
It did not surprise him to find out that well; it was a nice place. The towers housed condos and businesses that surrounded courtyards, exercise areas, restaurants, and cafes. The meticulous pocket community is squarely located in the middle of Irvine, the largest planned city in the United States. To the warrior, the effect was simultaneously attractive and repulsive. He wasn't the kind of person who could live there with the beautiful people, but part of him lamented that fact.
Walking away from his truck, the warrior instinctively checked his gear, right forearm brushing against the butt of a pistol concealed under his baggy coat. Badge on the chain, hanging heavy inside his shirt against his chest, left coat pocket weighted with spare magazines.
This operation called for stealth, and the risk of a fight was low. No vest, no bulky radio, no helmet and no boots. This would be in and out. Gone in the dark.
The warrior walked confidently down the sidewalk in front of one tower. Up ahead, the cafe attached to the parking garage seemed almost empty. It was late afternoon on Sunday, super Bowl Sunday. He figured that most of the people lived in these buildings were busy socializing, watching the game or otherwise distracted.
The Warrior knew that the target was away. Pre-Operation Intelligence and surveillance were very useful things. He walked confidently past the cafe and into the side stairwell of the parking garage.
Based on his observations, the security officers were for show only. They lazily repeatedly orbit the buildings and the golf cart. You could set your watch by their rounds. Knowing this, he felt at ease immediately upon leaving the sidewalk.
The warrior kept a casual pace as he climbed to the second floor and walked out onto the open upper deck of the garage. Satisfied that the lot was mostly empty, and the target car hadn't returned. He settled himself in an alcove that allowed him to observe the ground floor entrance and the second level parking deck.
As the sunset against the residential towers, he watched the windows and the balconies above. The lights were coming on up there, but no one was visible or out enjoying the brisk evening air. If somebody called him in, he had the badge and tell them just enough to dissuade them from blowing his operation.
A little after 7:00 PM, the Warrior's patience was rewarded. The white Kia Optima flashed by on the street below, turning into the garage. He listened as the car moved across the first floor, strained up the ramp before emerging into the open air on the second level. It did not surprise him to see two occupants. In the dim light, he couldn't tell for sure, but it looked like the target was in the passenger seat. It was go time.
The warrior was nonchalant in his approach. A normal guy out for an evening walk. It didn't matter. No one was paying attention. The car's dome light was on. They were talking, laughing inside. The black guy was behind the wheel. The Asian woman beside him was pretty, her blue dress attractive, even in the muted interior lights.
The scene of happiness and normalcy gave the warrior a pang of envious desire. He pushed back on the jealousy and replaced it with disdain. He fought to suppress a grin and head shake. Typical, he had caught the campus cop slippin'.
The warrior drew his pistol and, moving up close to the passenger window, pulled the trigger again and again, almost emptying the magazine. Bright flashes, loud pops, and vaporizing glass. The assault was so sudden and devastating, neither man nor woman cried out. They just slumped forward. Their instinctual response to the sudden onslaught was only to turn slightly. When the shooting stopped, a hush of silence rushed in, enveloping the scene. The warrior lean closer, trying to see past the gun smoke that hung in the air like a fog.
As he looked through the jagged holes, bullets made in the passenger window, there was a shocked stillness inside. Bodies languidly shifted. Maybe a quiet moaning, a chuffing gasp. But he had to be certain. Again, he lifted his pistol. This time with precision aim. He placed a bullet in the back of each head just to be sure the message was clear.
The specially fitted pistol made more sound than he had hoped. Echoing through the courtyard, he scanned the buildings above. Saw no movement, no onlookers in the windows. There were no sirens.
The warrior walked away with purpose, retracing his steps using intermittent shadows to his advantage. He needn't have worried. He made it back to the Titan without hearing sounds of alarm. Still no approaching sirens. He disappeared into the California night.
Irvine, California, is in the Los Angeles basin just south of the City of Los Angeles. Irvine has a less urban field than its larger neighbor. It's the largest planned community in the country and boasts verdant parks, desirable neighborhoods with excellent schools and low crime.
On the evening of February 3rd, 2013, the discovery of two of its residents shot to death in a car disturbed the reputation of Irvine being a great, safe place to live. The victims were young professionals who died outside their apartment, an exclusive condominium complex in the heart of the city.
The murder scene was on the second floor of one of the complexes, parking garages. A resident returning home at around 9:00 PM parked near the bodies. That level of the parking garage was open and in full view of the much taller residential and office buildings that lined one side of the multi-building complex.
The 9 1 1 caller, another resident noticed a white Kia Optima parked nearby with the damaged window. Fearing theft, the person walked over and discovered the bodies of a man and a woman slumped over in the front seats, obviously dead.
No one from the surrounding buildings reported the shooting when it occurred, but the occupants with units facing the interior of the complex were witnesses to the aftermath. First patrol units arrived, lights and sirens announcing the event. They secured the scene and blocked the interior roads. Next came the crime scene technicians with their processing equipment in tow. Shortly behind them, the homicide detectives. To the residents of this normally tranquil neighborhood, it looked like an invasion.
The nervous neighbors asked each other, did you see anything? Did you hear anything? No one had. Most said they were here, and they were watching the Super Bowl. Some were out avoiding watching the Super Bowl. The idea that anyone could be murdered right in their midst in Irvine was unsettling.
To the detectives that caught the case, the facts were unusual. This wasn't the kind of place they normally saw people dead in a car. That was often in parks, at stoplights, on streets and in the seedier areas on the periphery of the city. This scene was far from typical, and that raised troubling questions.
How was it that someone could fire more than a dozen nine millimeter rounds in a place as exposed as this, and no one see? The obvious answers were disturbing. Silencer? Was this a hitman?
The Optima's windows were a cloudy mess. Spidered out, penetrated at many points, jagged holes, allowing a glimpse of the grizzly scene inside. A young black man slumped behind the wheel. A young Asian woman beside him. Both shot too many times to count, but what was apparent is that they were each finished with a coup de grâce in the back of the head. All the shots had been at close range, the shattered glass edges peppered with telltale black residue.
What was the crime about? Looking at the woman, her clothing was nice. Her dress, before it became a horror mapping, the flow of blood from her wounds to the pull of gravity had been a pretty powder blue. She had jewelry on, which included a large diamond ring. The man's watch wasn't stolen and there was other property in the car. Probably not a robbery.
It looked like an ambush. It was a properly parked car, and it didn't seem like either of the victims had moved after the shooting started. They quickly identified the victims.
The detectives were stunned to find that they were working on the murder of a fellow officer. The man was 26-year-old Keith Lawrence, an officer with the University of Southern California. It turned out that the second victim was 28-year-old Monica Quan who coached the women's basketball team for California State University Fullerton. Monica and Keith shared an apartment in the complex and had just been engaged to marry a few days prior to their murders.
The detectives spread out to gather information about the setting and the victims. None of the building's residents admitted to knowing anything about the shooting. No one knew of any problem between the residents or why the couple might be targeted? A check of the parking garage access log revealed that Keith had driven into the garage at 7:30 PM. The 911 call came in at 9:10.
Detectives scoured Keith and Monica's lives for clues about why they were targeted. They came up with nothing for Keith. He was well respected at the university and hadn't had any major problems, personal or professional. The same was true for Monica. She was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles Police Department Captain. Monica's father, Randall Quan, could think of nobody who wanted to hurt them.
The only anomaly for Monica was that a man had called into Monica's office at the university with unusual questions. He asked where Monica and her team would stay for a recent away game. The staff member who took the call said the question seemed stalkerish. The caller hung up when asked to identify himself.
With no strong leads, the detectives expanded their search to include random crimes in the area. There had been no suspicious reports of weapons brandishing or road rage leading up to the incident.
They also looked at the victim's families. Randall Quan, Monica's dad, had been involved in gang enforcement and after retirement had become a lawyer representing police officers. None of the gang cases seemed to be related, and nothing jumped out at them about Randall's legal clients, at least not from the recent past.
In the first 48 hours following the Irvine's double homicides, detectives had many questions, but few answers.
The morning after the Irvine murders, 100 miles south in National City and just north of the Mexican border, the janitor of an automotive repair shop looked into the dumpster in the alley and saw many items that looked like military gear. The worker reported the find to local police.
The responding officer expected to see old, worn out, worthless stuff, but was surprised to see new items that included ammunition, a ballistic vest, leather duty belts, holsters, a collapsible baton, an officer's notebook, and a blue LAPD uniform. The uniform had a name tag attached. The name was Dorner. Inscribed in the notebook were two handwritten names and badge numbers. Dorner 37381 and Evans 31050.
A broader search of the dumpster down the alley revealed other valuable equipment, including a tactical helmet, a military backpack, and a nine-millimeter pistol magazine with bullets.
After he recovered the equipment from the dumpster, the officer guessed that someone had stolen the property from one of his colleagues working in the big city to the north. He called LAPD and was told that Dorner was no longer a police officer, but that he could speak to the patrol sergeant, Teresa Evans.
Evans told the officer that she didn't know why the equipment would be in a dumpster in National City. Dorner was assigned to her as a trainee, but was fired from LAPD several years prior. The officer thanked Evans for the information, hung up, and logged the items into the police department's property room.
At the time of the phone call from National City PD, Theresa Evans was 48 and working patrol on swing shift. Mention of the name Dorner was alarming to her. They had history, and it wasn't good.
Christopher Dorner had been Theresa Evans' trainee six years prior. They worked the west side of LA near the water. Dorner hadn't been a model recruit. In the academy, he was a marginal student, and at one point he shot himself in the hand. On the street, Theresa had serious reservations about Dorner's ability to do the job. He didn't possess an aptitude for the subtle and diplomatic communication skills that good cops develop.
He was overconfident, to the point of being unsafe. Worse, he couldn't handle constructive criticism, an essential attribute closely associated with humility that are the keys to success as a police officer. As the training period progressed, Theresa noticed and documented that Dorner was temperamental and angry, to the point of being unstable.
He kept a running tally of even the smallest lights, and as a black man, seemed to attribute every difficulty in his life as stemming from racism. When Teresa voiced her concern to Dorner, he was defensive. As Dorner failed to respond to training, and her critiques became more pointed, Dorner fought back.
He went to internal affairs and filed a use of force complaint against Teresa. In the complaint, Dorner claimed that while on a call, she repeatedly kicked a handcuffed suspect in the chest and face. Because of the complaint, they put Teresa on desk duty, where she remained for a year while they investigated.
The investigation was thorough. Several police officers and civilians were present on the call where the kicking incident was alleged to have occurred. None of them substantiated Donner's complaint. To the contrary, they all dismissed it as a fabrication.
At the conclusion of the review, the LAPD disciplinary board made a stunning move. Their decision was to reinstate Officer Evans to full duty and dismiss Dorner from the police department. This was based on the investigator's findings that Dorner had filed a complaint against his field training officer as retribution for poor training scores.
Six years later, Therese Evans was feeling anxious after just hearing Dorner's name. When he was fired, Theresa thought Dorner was the kind of guy who would try to exact some kind of revenge. That hadn't materialized in the intervening six years. But she would've been happy to never hear his name again. She had no idea why his gear would turn up in the dumpster in San Diego.
Theresa was uneasy as she worked that night. Being placed on desk duty for a year had been a painful time in her career. She ruminated about it for hours.
Back at the station, as the shift was coming to a close, she heard two officers talking about former LAPD Captain Randall Quan. One of the officers needed legal representation on something and Quan's name came up. Another officer said that Quan wouldn't be available because his daughter had just been murdered.
The conversation suddenly held Teresa's full attention. The last time Theresa had seen Randall Quan, he was working as the legal representative for Dorner during the complaint process. She knew that when Dorner had been fired; he blamed his lawyer. Dorner's belief was that Quan, having been an LAPD Insider, had betrayed him.
Teresa didn't believe in coincidences. She reached out to Randall Quan. Upon hearing Donner's name, Quan started talking about how crazy he thought his former client was. He characterized Dorner as having a hero syndrome, meaning that he could do no wrong, and any conflict would be, by definition, caused by evil forces arrayed against him. He was skeptical that Dorner could be involved in the murder. The relationship seemed obscure, particularly because it was six years in the past.
Theresa's next call was to Irvine Police, and she was soon connected to the detective leading the murder investigation. Teresa filled the detective in on what she knew. Admitting it seemed like a long shot, but the not believing in the whole coincidences thing is a common sentiment among good cops. The investigator agreed that the information could be useful and promised to follow up.
To the Irvine detectives working the double homicide, the Dorner tip from LAP D was as good a lead as they'd yet had. The information played into one of the risk possibilities named on day one. The murders could be retribution for something that Monica's father was involved in at LAPD. Still, the Dorner thing seemed pretty stale to have erupted so violently.
Detectives started with background. Aside from being dismissed during field training at LAPD, Dorner looked great on paper. There was no criminal record for him. He was a Navy veteran. He had a house in Las Vegas and owned a Nissan pickup truck. He had a mother and sister living in the LA area.
There were two items that drew the investigator's attention. One, they had involuntarily released Dorner from the Naval Reserve duty just two days before the murders. Two, Dorner owned several firearms including a nine millimeter Glock, the same make and caliber used on the murders. Glock nine millimeter was a fairly popular weapon, but that two was worth follow up.
When the Irvine detectives made it to National City to inspect the cache of Dorner equipment, they discovered that video existed for the alley where the dumpsters were located. On the video, a man matching Dorner's description could be seen coming and going from a Nissan Titan pickup truck to dispose of the property. This happened early Monday morning, and if related, it would've been only a few hours after the shooting a hundred miles to the north.
One detective noted a weird fact. The dumpsters that Dorner used were in full view of the National City Police Department headquarters. He wondered if Dorner was looking for a confrontation.
As Irvine police were considering their new suspect, law enforcement officers across Southern California began passing around a disturbing social media post. It wasn't long before it came to the attention of LAPD Brass. The over 10,000 Word document became known as Dorner's Manifesto.
Parts of the document were ludicrously silly. In the rambling diatribe, Dorner thanked his knee surgeon, criticized President Obama and opined expertly on the first lady's hairstyle. He commented on current celebrity scandals, including Charlie Sheen and Bill Cosby. He ordered Governor Chris Christie to go on a diet and forgave General David Petraeus for his human failings.
Dorner alluded to his belief that he was going to die and listed the TV shows and movies he was sorry to miss: the Walking Dead, Shark Week, and the Hangover three. Other parts of the letter were sad. Dorner felt that because he had grown up in areas where he was the only black person, he was constantly enduringly under a racist attack by the people and organizations around him. He asserted that this had been true through school, through the Navy, and, worst of all, LAPD.
The most important parts of the manifesto were dangerous, even deadly. The diatribe included a threat to wage unconventional and asymmetrical warfare on LAPD of all ranks, their associates, and their families. He admitted to killing Keith Lawrence, saying he never imagined that he could be a cop killer, but was driven to it. He asserted that his actual target in the shooting was Randall Quan's daughter.
When they read Donner's threats, the LAPD command took the risk seriously and jumped into action. They compiled a list of staff threatened by name and then added those determined to be probable targets. The first list was three dozen people. The second included over 100 people who needed intensive protection. They sacrificed specialty police units for these assignments. Within two hours, hundreds of LAPD officers were crisscrossing Southern California to intercept their assigned protectees.
A few days after the murders in Irvine, the gear dump and the manifesto, San Diego police were summoned to Southwestern Yacht Club for an unusual call. That evening, an 81-year-old man, Carlos Caprioglio, was relaxing on his yacht when a man walked up the dock.
There was nobody else around, but Carlos wasn't worried. Crime was rare in that part of San Diego, particularly at the marina. The first thing Carlos noticed about the big man who was stepping aboard his boat was that he was gripping a black semi-automatic pistol like someone who knew how to use it. The uninvited guest promised Carlos that he wouldn't get hurt if he took the big man to Mexico. He decided cooperation was preferable to being shot.
As Carlos started the engines, the big man began untying the dock lines. Later, Carlos would tell the police he didn't think the guy knew anything about boating because he just threw the ropes loose in the water. As Carlos put the engine into gear, one of those ropes immediately became fouled in the propeller and killed the engine.
The big man became angry, demanding Carlos immediately fix the problem. Carlos explained that the tangled rope was a significant and lengthy repair, and offered his car keys, urging his captor to take the car. Clearly frustrated, the big man bound Carlos' hands and feet, stole his cell phone and fled. It took Carlos a couple of hours to free himself and summoned San Diego Police. After he gave a statement, the officer showed him a photo. Word went out across police departments in Southern California. Dorner was trying to sneak into Mexico.
The manifesto and murders lit a fire with Southern California law enforcement and stimulated a massive all hands manhunt and protection effort. At the Los Angeles Task Force Center, local, state and federal investigators shared information and divided up the work that lay ahead. They brought in psychologists to predict what Dorner's next steps might be.
One of the first tasks was a workup on Dorner's life, which meant talking to his friends and family. The friends who were closest told investigators that Dorner had two sides to his personality. He could be a courteous, considerate, and caring friend one day, and callous and even cruel the next. The friends that lasted the longest knew that you didn't insult or cross him.
Dorner was a guy who kept a tally of even the smallest slights, and could lash out in unexpected ways. A recent friend and a woman who rented a room in Dorner's House said their platonic relationship was solid at first. Dorner was someone she could confide in and thought he was dependable. One night, Dorner called her into his home office and began showing her photos of him and a girlfriend having intercourse. The roommate interpreted Dorner's actions as a buildup to a proposition, but she didn't want to be involved in that way. When she fled from the room, Dorner's reaction was to freak out. He began screaming at her, demanding that she pack up her belongings and leave immediately, which she did.
Another longtime friend, Delani Jackson, was a San Diego police officer who knew Dorner since high school. Delani said he often visited Dorner at his home in Las Vegas. When the Navy released Dorner, Delani went to Vegas to console him. He discovered a friend who was now hostile. Dorner told Delani that he never wanted to see him again, bringing up perceived instances of disrespect, some from the very distant past.
Because Jackson was a police officer, the investigators questioned him about Dorner's weapons. Jackson told them that Dorner had many semiautomatic rifles and pistols, and that over the last year had purchased silencers for some of them. The detectives opined that those purchases were to prepare for the current events. They also thought that the silencer information answered the mystery as to why no one called in the Irvine shooting.
One of the big early questions about Dorner was whether his Navy training gave him the expertise to make good on his threats. He promised to bring the kind of gorilla warfare waged by special units like Navy Seals and Army Green Berets. The answer was that while Dorner had weapons training in the Navy; it was about perimeter defense, not the special warfare tactics that he threatened in the manifesto. The story of Dorner's almost comedic attempt to Shanghai and octogenarian only to be foiled by a rope seemed to lessen the threat.
The psychologist who analyzed Dorner's mental state made ominous predictions. They said that Dorner's writing and actions showed a man who expected to die, who felt that he had nothing to lose and was therefore extremely dangerous. They warned that they should meet any attempt by Dorner to surrender with caution. He was the type who might wanna go out in a blaze of glory.
As guidance, the psychologist cautioned that the public messaging should avoid labeling Dorner as crazy. They suggested that trying to enter into a dialogue about the termination process might buy time to locate him. In response to that analysis, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who is a named Target in the manifesto, publicly released that he would personally lead a review of Dorner's termination file.
In the early morning hours of February 7th, 2013, a tow truck driver getting gas in the LA suburb of Corona recognized Dorner in the Titan truck as it slowly drove past. Not by coincidence, he was able to flag two LAPD cops sitting for one of the protection details. The citizen alerted the officers just as Dorner's truck circled into view. The officers immediately gave Chase as Dorner fled onto the nearby highway.
The patrol car was considerably behind Dorner's truck and no backup had arrived when the fugitive abruptly took an exit. As the patrol car followed down the off ramp, Dorner set up an ambush at the bottom. He fired dozens of rounds into the LAPD car, clearly disabling it before fleeing back onto the highway. Miraculously, only one of the two officers in the car was hit by Dorner's rifle fire. And that was a simple graze wound to the scalp. Dorner riddled the patrol car with armor piercing rounds, rendering it inoperable. The victim officer could not call out on the radio, which caused confusion among cover cars racing their way. That communication delay would be costly.
A few minutes after the shooting in Corona, Riverside police officer Michael Crane and his recruit, Andrew Tachias stopped for the red light at the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington Avenue. The night was quiet and chilly, with patchy ground fog drifting across the roadway. It was Tachias' last day of field training. Crane, the 6'3" former Marine, had high regard for his student, and both regretted the end of their time together.
Suddenly, the cruiser's windshield glass exploded inward. The two officers barely registered what was happening as round after round poured in on them. The source of the gunfire was an oncoming vehicle that had pulled through the intersection a
gainst the red light, stopping a few feet away from the cruiser.
The shooter loosed more than a dozen rounds from his rifle. The telltale shot patterns recorded in the glass made clear the shooter's intent to kill the occupants. When the echo of the shots subsided, the ravaged police car rolled slowly, silently forward. Officer Michael Crane, an 11 year veteran of the Riverside Police Department and father of a 10-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, died instantly as one bullet pierced his badge and then destroyed his heart.
Behind the wheel and on the side of the car, most directly hit with gunfire, officer Tachias began a fight for survival. Someone had grievously wounded the recruit officer in the side, back, legs, and arms. A cab driver, who had stopped at the same light, ran over to the patrol car, shifted it into park, and shouted into their radio, pleading for help. Later, the cabby confirmed Dorner was the shooter.
The officer safety bulletin about Dorner shooting at LAPD and nearby Corona was received too late to warn the officers in Riverside. the Corona and Riverside shootings further set law enforcement and residents of Southern California on edge.
Before the Dorner story had been more of a curiosity on the evening news. After, the murders and the manhunt were regional and national top stories. The coverage only became more frenzied when an LAPD source leaked the manifesto to CNN.
The shootings happened in the early hours of February 7th. Later that morning, Sheriff's deputies in Big Bear Lake, a mountainous area, 100 miles east of Los Angeles, responded to an old forestry road on the side of a mountain for a report of a burning truck.
When the flames were out, the deputies confirmed it was Dorner's Titan pickup truck. It looked like he had intentionally torched the vehicle after it had gotten stuck in deep snow. The truck contained charred remnants of several weapons, ammunition, and camping gear. The discovery kicked off the largest manhunt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains anyone could remember. Checkpoints blocked major access roads in and out. Search teams, dogs, and helicopters scoured the hillsides and buildings for days.
There was no sign of Dorner on February 8th, ninth, 10th, or 11th. The lull stretched law enforcement to the max. They didn't have the luxury of only focusing in the big bear area. Dorner could be anywhere. In fact, witnesses had reported seeing him in various places around the country.
A package sent to Anderson Cooper of CNN added to the drama. The box contained an LAPD challenge coin, a memento given to Dorner by former LAP D, chief William Bratton. The coin was recognizable despite having been perforated several times by rifle rounds.
By February 12th, with still no sign of the most wanted man in California, a sense of normalcy was creeping back into the big bear area. Signs of the manhunt were still everywhere, but locals were starting to believe that Dorner had either frozen to death on a mountainside or left the area all together.
The morning of February 12th was the day that Jim and Karen Reynolds, a semi-retired couple who managed a 13 room hotel just down the road from where Dorner dumped his truck, restarted cleaning out rooms. At noon, the couple opened the door to Unit 2 0 3 and found themselves face-to-face with Dorner.
The fugitive ordered them into the room at gunpoint and closed the door behind them. Once inside, Dorner bound the couple using zip ties. Jim Reynolds wondered how the fugitive could have been hiding out in one of their rooms the entire time. He quickly pieced the timeline together.
He and Karen had been cleaning rooms on the day Dorner had burned his truck. That happened just up the hill, maybe a five-minute walk. Dorner had slipped into the room and locked the door. Jim and Karen each thought the other had secured it because there was no sign of forced entry.
From room 2 0 3, Dorner had watched the massive search unfold. Up the street, he could see the vehicles and helicopters arriving and departing the command post. The room also had cable tv, so Dorner would've also been able to monitor the news. A few minutes after he took the Reynolds hostage, Dorner decided it was time to leave. He took the couple's car keys, loaded up his gear, and drove away. The getaway car was a purple Nissan Rogue.
Once they were sure Dorner was gone, it took Karen Reynolds a little over 15 minutes to free herself from the zip ties. She found her cell phone and dialed 911. The call came into dispatch center just before 12:30 PM.
Within minutes, officers from the multi-jurisdictional task force were locking down the big bear area. They had been searching for days, and even the officers who weren't from the area were now well oriented. A bright purple SUV should be an easy to spot.
Several officers were hastily set up a roadblock on Highway 38 when the suspect vehicle tucked up behind two school buses drove past their location. When he saw officers scrambling into their cars to pursue, Dorner turned into a residential area. The officers combed through the neighborhood. They found the Nissan where the driver had lost control and crashed into a stand of trees. No one was inside.
On a nearby street, a man driving a Dodge pickup slowed for a stop sign and found himself looking into a face he had seen so many times on flyers and tv over the last week. The fugitive aimed his rifle at the man and ordered him out of the vehicle.
As Dorner was trying to slip back out onto the highway, one of the police units recognized him. A hail of gunfire went in each direction, but no one was hit. Dorner sensed that the massive search party was converging on his location, so he drove off the roadway, ditching the truck behind a log cabin.
The police teams, realizing they had their quarry hemmed in, began cordoning off the surrounding blocks. The buildings in the area were primarily unoccupied vacation cabins.
A few minutes after Dorner was last seen San Bernardino, sheriff Detective Alex Collins parked his vehicle on a roadside and ventured along the slope's shoulder. The truck had yet to be found and everyone was spreading out, trying to locate it. From his vantage point on the road, he was scanning the slopes above him when he saw a flash. Dorner's first bullet ripped through Colin's face, shattering his upper teeth, splitting his tongue, and destroying half his lower jaw. The second hit him below his left knee, the third and fourth blasts through his left arm and chest.
Deputy Jeremiah McKay was standing close to Collins when he collapsed onto the road. McKay instinctively followed his partner down and crawled to cover behind their vehicle. A helicopter swooped overhead. The pilot witnessed the shooting but was unclear where the rounds were coming from.
McKay tried to give a description which required him to look at the cabin. As he was transmitting to the helicopter, Dorner fired a shot. The bullet entered the top of McKay's chest at a downward angle, killing him instantly.
As the two deputies lay in the roadway, other officers were carefully guided into the perimeter positions around the cabin by the helicopter crew. With the interior perimeter secure, a hasty rescue plan came together. After several failed attempts, the rescue team members were able to deploy enough smoke grenades to allow the extraction of the casualties. They confirmed Deputy McKay was dead while Detective Collins was medevaced to the nearest trauma center.
The siege of the cabin lasted several hours. The officers tried to communicate from behind cover, but Dorner did not respond except with gunfire. In some of these exchanges, law enforcement fired tear gas canisters back, but it was clear that Dorner was not ready to surrender.
During one particularly long period of silence. The officers wondered if Dorner had taken his own life. Shortly before 4:00 PM an armored vehicle with a grapple attachment arrived. The operator drove up to the cabin and ripped a section of the wall away, exposing part of the interior of the house. Dorner, apparently fearing a SWAT team entry, deployed his own smoke grenade, probably from the basement.
As the February sun sank low on the horizon, the decision was made to deploy canisters of CS gas into the cabin. These canisters are more effective than tear gas used earlier, but they had an ignition source that, if left to burn, could light the house on fire. Despite the risk, seven Cs canisters were shot into what remained of the structure. A few seconds later, a single gunshot sounded from inside the cabin.
Dorner didn't come out. The officers watched as white Cs poured out and created noxious clouds around the cabin. Still no Dorner. After a few minutes, the white cloud began to turn gray, then black. Soon flames licked up the walls, progressing until the entire structure was fully engulfed.
The next day, charred human remains were removed from what was left of the cabin's basement. An autopsy revealed that the last gunshot heard was the sound of Dorner putting a nine millimeter bullet through his brain. Ballistics confirmed that the same weapon was used in the murders that killed Keith Lawrence and Monica Quan. An AR 15 found in the cabin was matched to the shooting scenes of Michael Crane, Andrew Tachias, Jeremiah McKay and Alex Collins.
Transitioning to the discussion, Mark, how did this get on your radar?
Mark: Well, this case caught my attention for several reasons, because it involved police and LAPD in particular. I wanted to understand whether this was an LAPD organizational issue or if it was primarily the offender or what was going on.
Marcy: Talk about your interest in LAPD.
Mark: I have an interest in history in general, and that extends to how policing has evolved over time, to what exists now. LAPD actually plays a large disproportionate role in the development of modern organized and professional policing.
Some people hear that might think about some of the well-known problems that the media has covered over the last 50 years involving LAPD. And I'm not in any way trying to say those problems aren't legit. But what is true is despite the problems, a lot of that organization, the training and professional standards that departments follow across the region, across the Western, United States were developed in, Southern California and at LAP D. I think for the most part, our profession is better for that advancement.
Marcy: Why do you think LAPD had such a role in the development of modern policing?
Mark: Well, I think part of it's just because of sheer need. The population of Southern California in particular has exploded. People there wanted professional police departments instead of crazy guns slingers. Part of that is the Hollywood effect. Dating back into the early 20th century television shows popularized the image of the straight arrow, l LAPD officer, detective. They became America's cops. That image has tarnished in recent years, but it hasn't entirely gone away. It's kind of an enduring fiction.
What I can say is that many aspects of my job were improved over the latter half of the 20th century with contributions of members from that police department and systems of operation that were developed in California.
One of the ones that comes to mind is a generally integrated field training program. That's a good example.
Marcy: Explain a little about what the field training program is.
Mark: Okay. I don't wanna go too deep into it cuz it, you could take forever. In general, as a police recruit, and I'm speaking mainly for professional, kind of medium to large size departments, a recruit goes through an extensive hiring process, which could have a lot of elements where you could be weeded out. A physical evaluation, physical agility evaluation, psychological evaluation, testing to make sure you can write and read. There are a bunch of tests you go through.
Then you're hired and put into a police academy. All states do certified police academies now that have a list of things that their students have to learn, right? To be certified as a police officer in that particular state. The California, police Officer Standards Council is one of the leading states to develop, and one of the first states to have developed those standards.
In my case, I was hired, and put into a police academy and I think I can't remember what my academy was like, 16 or 20 weeks. It was a fairly lengthy process., I think now the Anchorage Police Department Academy is like 25 weeks.
And there it's kind of the, the book learning aspect of training. There's a whole lot to learn. Not all of it's book learning. That's where you do the range and you learn about the law and you learn how to write police reports and how to conduct investigations. But that's all kind of classroom study.
You do, get in, fake fights with other recruits and people they bring in. But it's not the actual street work. So after you graduate from the academy, almost all professional police departments put their new recruits from certification in the academy into a field training program.
When I did field training, it was you spent one month with a succession of three field training officers who were experienced officers who had been selected to train you. And this is basically on-the-job training. In my process, the official name of my process, we used what's called the San Jose model.
One month each with a succession of three field training officers, and then you return back to your primary field training officer for a checkoff, basically that, field training officer evaluates whether or not you've progressed enough to actually become a certified work on your own, police officer.
And eventually you became an FTO or field training officer. Can you describe what that piece was like from the trainer's perspective?
Field training officers are selected from officers who've worked the street, I think was selected when I had four years on. They pick people who know what they're doing and have an interest in training new recruits and hopefully have an interest in making sure professional standards are maintained. There's a training process for the training officer also.
You're paired with an officer that, if you've got a good field training program, they try to pick an officer that they think will do a good job with a particular trainee. If they see a deficiency with a trainee, they try and pair with an officer they think we'll be able to help with that deficiency. If you're the primary field training officer, you get a guy or a woman for four weeks, then they go off to two more, two additional field training officers, and then that you get 'em back for checkoff.
Field training is a intense process. As a trainer, you're trying to make sure that this person is going to do a good job. Knows what they're doing, has taken in the information, at the academy, and now can apply it on the street. This can be a very complicated thing because, you've done a lot of, theoretical, instruction, and now you have to adapt that onto, and that theoretical instruction sometime, can be very black and white, but now you've gotta adapt that information to what you're seeing and what people stories you're telling.
You have to be able to discern, well, is this a domestic violence situation? Does it apply under the law or is it simply an assault? And there's a lot more complicated things you have to do than just that. But applying what you've learned is sometimes difficult and sometimes trainees can't do it.
Marcy: You had trainees with varying levels of experience and aptitude, and backgrounds. Talk a little bit about that.
Mark: You'd get people that had never considered being a police officer prior to going to the academy, and now are coming out and really kind of wide-eyed, because the book learning and the, in the academy thing is more, what they've experienced in the past and now on the street things are, can be very chaotic.
The people that had no experience prior hadn't, really. Thought about being a cop their whole life oftentimes took some time to catch up.
, I would say my best recruit simply because he had a lot of experience coming to me. Actually was an LAPD officer, had worked there for a while, and had quit there and come up. And so I got him and he was like a gift, as a field training officer, because I didn't have to show him a lot. I basically had to orient him to our procedure, what we did, and how it was maybe different from what they had. So there was that big swath of difference.
You could get somebody who's very competent, even somebody who had no experience that was very competent and picked up things quickly. And then you'd have people that just weren't doing well and were not picking up things quickly and had big problems. One of the biggest things is if you have somebody that isn't officer safety conscious. That is one of the fatal flaws. If you're not gonna protect yourself or other people as you go through the job, if you're distracted by what's going on around you, then you can't be a police officer.
Marcy: Well, I seem to recall that you sometimes were specifically given recruits that they thought were having problems around officer safety, where you could try to help figure out if the problem was fixable or if it was a fatal flaw.
When you had a recruit with serious problems, I would imagine it got pretty tense in the car.
Mark: Yes. It could be. For some trainees, this is their lifelong goal is to be a police officer since they were a little kid. If it isn't going well in field training, you can see the, they can sense the incoming. You have to basically document everything you do during a day as a field trainer. You'd document all the training and the experience you have, but the reason for that is at the end, if you're not going to make it, we have to have documented that we tried the kind of remediation efforts we went through and documented exactly why we could not sustain your career as a police officer.
You had recruits that got on the street, and it wasn't what they thought it was gonna be, and they realized over time that this just wasn't for them., we had officers being shot; we had officers that were killed on duty. And when you have recruits that come into that environment, even the ones that hadn't actually gone to some of these horrible calls, it's big news in the community. They start evaluating whether they really wanted to do this. Their families start really evaluating whether they want their loved one to do this. And sometimes, they decide to leave, which I saw.
Marcy: Do you think that folks that are having problems? Do you think that they're realizing that the job is not for them?
Mark: Yes. I mean, there's some recruits that have, that are introspective. We had a guy way back. I'm dating myself here, but we had a guy who came from the Department of Corrections organization. And, he just wasn't picking it up and he decided that he was gonna leave.
And at that time, there were computer chips, different speeds. A low end computer chip was a 2 86, and then you had 3 86, and the Pentium chip, right? Well, this recruit at the time, he decided this just wasn't the job for him because he wasn't picking it up.
Said, I guess I'm just a 2 86 in a Pentium world,. And he quit. So that's kind of sad, but that's, sometimes you, they just realize it's not something, you have to have a personality that goes along with this job. You have to be flexible and adaptive. And that's just not everybody can do it.
Marcy: Do you think this is what happened with Dorner? I mean, the guy was in the Navy; he seemed really squared away, but, but he also didn't seem to be introspective enough to recognize where his shortcomings were.
Mark: Yeah, I had problem recruits and problems we tried to fix. I never had a recruit like Rebel and go to internal affairs as retaliation. I can see how that happened. The emotions can get very high. Sitting in a car with a guy, where this is happening, is not a comfortable thing for either person. These are people sometimes that they don't make it, they're just crushed.
FTO is when you really can see how adaptive a person is. Can they take what they learned in that Calm Academy class and apply it in the chaos of the streets? You often see somebody that did just fine at the academy and can't function well on FTO.
About Dorner, one thing I know is that people with serious mental illness can get along in the world well. They say that a significant number of our top business people are narcissists, psychopaths, sometimes even sociopaths., but here was a guy who's playing to his image. Like he's a duck swimming in a pond. Above water is just a picture of serenity. Well below, those feet are paddling like crazy.
Marcy: Yeah. But I think we all have a little of that where what we present is not necessarily our internal turmoil.
Mark: Sure., but for a person like Dorner, it's on steroids.
He's a guy who could not handle failure. He didn't believe he could fail. And a guy like that, that facade, it can implode and as a facade falls away.
I knew a guy professionally where everything seemed fine., working with him regularly, I thought he was a good person. But women who I associated with on the job told me that guy's a creep one said, if that guy was in an elevator and he stepped on, well, I get off., I kinda logged that away, and I later had a professional experience with that guy. Well, it turns out the ladies were right. He had major issues in the morals department.
Thinking about that story came back to me when I read about Dorner, his personal friends, who they talked about his groomed persona, and how it fell away. And he really wasn't what he was pretending to be. In the investigation, I mentioned that he had a high school friend and roommate. There were others, particularly women, he dated. Who knew Dorner could be the Jekyll and Hyde type of guy?
From my perspective, the hero in this story is Teresa Evans, the FTO, like I said a little earlier, when you sit in a car with a trainee for a month, you see them there, how they deal with the chaos and how they deal with stress.
And you can get a feel, you get a sense of what they're really made of.. And my hat's off to Evans. She took her job seriously. As a lot of FTOs do, the path of least resistance there is just to rubber stamp a trainee and move 'em on the, but the burden is you come to an understanding that you're the last gatekeeper before a cop is loosed on the community.
Theresa Evans saw how defective Dorner was, whether he is ex-navy or not. She saw, she sensed what he was in his core, and she did what he could to give him the boot.
Marcy: Doesn't his termination, based on the complaint that he came forward with, have the potential to cast a chilling effect on others speaking out? There's a risk that it could look like a whistleblower issue or reinforce the belief, uh, that cops protect bad cops.
Mark: Yeah, and that happened here.
There are a lot of detractors with LAPD. They were gonna jump on that and said, Dorner is the righteous dude. That's why he did that. Why he filed the use of force complaint.
, that kind of complaint, particularly from an internal source, was a pretty devious move. No one's saying Dorner is a dumb guy. He did this smart. L LAPD has been in the wake of several uses of force scandals and they're sensitive to that kind of complaint. And Dorner used that issue, because he knew it was gonna get attention.
But if you look, he also used it against the entire department. In the manifesto. He knew what the soft spots were, and he tailored those complaints to. How he knew they were gonna be most effective
Marcy: When you investigate complaints, it seems like it might be difficult to make a determination about who's lying.
It's essentially a he said, she said situation a lot of times.
Mark: Yeah. Looking at this, and having investigated complaints, the shocker is that they're able to come to a solid conclusion on Dorner's complaint. Particularly looking at potential politics that could have played a part. I did a lot of internal investigations as a sergeant.
I mentioned before I was involved in criminal aspects when I was a detective, but as a sergeant, you investigate all kinds of complaints that aren't necessarily criminal in nature, in a APD system, you could conclude those investigations with three findings., those three conclusions could be, one sustained., meaning that complaint was a violation of policy and procedure, and the officer did the conduct being alleged.
The next one is exonerated, meaning either the officer didn't do the alleged conduct or did the alleged conduct, but that conduct isn't a violation of policy. And the last finding in the one that's most troubling is not sustained, meaning a determination of whether the officer did the alleged conduct could not be determined.
Right? The not sustained is kind of, it's just hanging out there. It's unsatisfying because you don't know. You can't prove it. Maybe the officer's doing something wrong and maybe not, but we can't, determine one way or the other.
Marcy: Are you surprised that there was enough evidence to prove that Dorner was actually lying?
Mark: I think that in this instance, there had to be significant evidence that he was motivated to lie, and that he did lie based on the people they talked to, the hotel staff that complained about the person that Teresa Evans was supposed to have kicked in the face, from other officers that went to the call.
It was an extensive investigation and I think they had enough inform information and people put giving evidence in that case to say she didn't do it and he's lying. I'm kind of surprised they didn't come with it, not sustained. But like I said, that's just an aspect of how much information and evidence there must have been.
Marcy: Once they determined that he lied, did they pretty much have to fire him then?.
Mark: Yes. In recent years, there have been court findings that require a prosecutor to disclose any information to defense attorneys about any officers involved in their case who have had discipline for, honesty or integrity related violations.
That was a legal finding. The response to this by prosecutors was called Brady or, or Giglio lists. There's basically and, if you are retained as an officer, you actually potentially called a Brady officer, and you have to be disclosed to the defense attorneys in cases. Because you could endanger a criminal case. So departments, when they make this call, okay, we've determined that an officer has lied. They have to think about that. Do we want this officer anywhere close to our criminal cases? You say you have a Brady officer that's involved in a murder defense attorneys are gonna make hay out of that.
In general, police departments, when they catch somebody lying, they can determine they lied. They fire 'em. The Brady thing has happened in the last decade or so, maybe a little longer than that, but for my entire career, the expectation was if you lied during an internal investigation, you probably will be fired.
And I've known several people who were subject to that exact punishment for that reason. That's a long way around saying that. Yes, once the investigation determined that Dorner lied, they had to fire him.
Marcy: What do you think about Dorner's manifesto?
Mark: If you read it, it's long. Like 20 to 30 pages long and it sounds like rantings, every once in a while there's lucid stuff that's like, Ooh, that's scary.
I remember a quote from the LAPD chief when this happened. He didn't know him, but from his writings and what he heard sounded like an injustice collector, meaning that he's someone who blames everyone else for his failings. And having looked at this case closely, I think Beck was right.
Marcy: Do you think Dorner was delusional?
Mark: Hmm. You know, the term legend in his own mind? There were problems from the beginning. He struggled through the LAPD Academy, taking 13 months to graduate.
It usually takes you six months to get through. This means that he was allowed to recycle, during which time he had discipline for fighting with two fellow recruits. And he put a bullet through his own hand. I don't know how that happened, but that would be looked at as a big problem. If you did that, you're trained in firearms, you're trained how to handle a weapon and how not to handle a weapon. And if you put a round through your hand or anybody else, it's a big, it's a big no-no.
I think that after Dorner was fired; he had he bs'd himself kind of into a corner where he had to do something drastic.
He couldn't live with being told that, no, you can't conduct yourself like this. Three of the people he killed were straight up ambushes and had no relation to what he was blaming for his problems in the manifesto.
He's gonna wage an unconventional war against LAPD he only succeeded in grazing the head of one LAPD officer. Everyone else was completely uninvolved. Here are my notes on Dorner war. He terrorized an 81-year-old guy. It would've been pathetic if it wasn't so cruel. Why was he fleeing to Mexico in the first place?
It doesn't seem like the warfare he promised on Lap D., when I think about getting to Mexico, it seems like he's woefully unprepared. What kind of gear was he taking with him? He had he jump on a boat and go, I've seen nothing to suggest he was Spanish speaker. Would he have a south of the Border support network?
I don't think so. Say he runs to Mexico. We will get fugitives back from Mexico all the time. So I don't know what he thought he was doing. And especially murder suspects are coming back from Mexico. We'll be able to find you.
Also, the fleeing to Big Bear is crazy. It was February. Big Bear is high in the Sierra Mountains. You know, man, there's snow. He got his truck stuck in the snow and I think he was just luck. Luck lucked into the unoccupied, open, hotel room. This case is tragic., Dorner himself is a tragic clown. That plan of asymmetrical and unconventional, it sure was, but not in a good way.
Marcy: When you are a police officer, you're always on duty. There are security issues that you address that maybe your average family doesn't necessarily need to think about. Talk about that for a second.
Mark: Yeah. Security is always a concern. You start, you sit in the front seat of the police car and put people in the back and take them to jail.
You get threatened on a regular basis. People you arrest promise you, they're gonna kill you or they're going to do something horrible to a member of your family, usually your wife. At first it's alarming and after a while you get used to it, but you, it be, it makes you vigilant.
As a police officer in a community, you are paying attention. Usually when you go out in public, you watch for people who get that; I recognize you look, or people that look familiar and you just can't place them. And you keep an eye on what they're doing and where they're going
Marcy: to this day, everybody in our family knows and defers to which seat you're gonna wanna sit in at a restaurant.
And I tend to know where the exits are and kind of where the majority of people are gonna be in a big room anticipating what's gonna make you uncomfortable about situations.
Mark: Yeah, if I go into a restaurant where I'm gonna sit for a while, I try always to face the door with nobody behind me. And if there are people sitting behind me, I look at them before I sit down, and I watch people as they come in and out the door.
Do they look pissed off? Do they look like normal? Do we make eye contact, and doesn't look happy? If any of those things happen, I watch 'em. Now, after retirement, I'm more relaxed. I was more vigilant when I was working. But I pay attention to people that ping my radar. With the Dorner thing, the officers who are most at risk got a security detail.
Some refused it. Family probably was part of those decisions. If I was single, I would've been like, yeah, let that MFA come after me. But with the spouse and kids, softer targets, I bet none of those guys turned down. The protection. The two officers whose car was shot up?
The ones in Corona, I think about whoever that person was; they were protecting, that person had to know. They dodged a bullet, knowing that they were gonna be the first LAPD target in his string.
Marcy: And you did mention that you would've done this protection details a little differently.
Mark: Yeah. In the last half of my career, I was a big proponent of plain clothes and undercover work. That gives you an advantage as an investigator and enforcement if the bad guys are guessing whether you're there or not. A lot of times when I do that, we'd have uniform cars laid back somewhere to back up if we made an arrest or something.
You see things in plain clothes and not in uniform that you'll never see in a marked car. When they put marked LAPD cars in front of the target's houses, those guys are sitting ducks, as evidenced by what happened in Corona. If that, I think it was a tow truck driver hadn't flagged them, they probably would've been killed like the Riverside officers were.
If I was making the call on that, I would've wanted the security details to be in plain clothes in the building, watching and waiting. And who knows, maybe those officers would've been gotten lucky and, Dorner come, try to come in, they're awake, waiting for him, and they would've killed him before he got to the others.
Marcy: Talk about your experience searching for dangerous subjects.
Mark: Yeah. As a police officer, you're searching for people all the time., and you have to approach each situation. Like the guy had it's unknown risk. You don't exactly know how dangerous a person might be at any given time. You're cautious.
, you just don't know whether you're searching for the rare person that's gonna try to shoot you. Two of my friends in separate tragic events, got really unlucky during searches. So you're always on edge. You hear the stories. Maybe somebody like me did and people I worked with did. You know that there are people that you're hunting that will try to kill you? There was a call. I just arrived in an area where an officer, a friend of mine, was chasing a guy through a neighborhood and. I was out on the street waiting to try to intercept and boom. There's a gunshot.
And that guy, I didn't see the guy fire shot, but I heard it. And there, as the guy jumped over a fence and ran across the street, I was half a block away when I heard the shot and the dude sprinted across the street, just up the block from me.
Now that first officer who was chasing, who luckily wasn't hurt, he and I have to go find that dude. Right? And I can tell you, looking for that guy, knowing that he had just fired a shot, knowing he could be hiding anywhere and shoot at us before we saw him. That was, that's scary.
That's, a difficult situation to work under. That guy I'm talking about. Luckily we didn't know it at the time, but he fired the shot. He jumped the fence, and as he jumped the fence, he lost the gun in his hand and it was dark. That would've been nice to know as we're hunting this guy that he had lost the gun.
That guy ultimately we had a dog tracking team, and the guy got bit; it was bad, and he could have surrendered, but he was quiet and didn't surrender and the dog bit him. But it was a happy ending., none of us got hurt.
Here's a story that comes back to my mind, like one of those, like, I need to go change my underwear after the call kind of things., I'm looking for a bank robbery suspect, and he took a bait pack, which means we're able to hone in on him using a sensor.
But there's a problem in this big apartment complex and we can't tell exactly where he is at. So we're kind of looking around and I go to an apartment with a door that's a jar when I knock and I'm like, okay, well, I go in and I start to search and I don't think he's there. I think he's not there.
, it's funny and scary when I think about it to this day. I go into this dark bathroom and I pull back the shower curtain on the tub and that guy is laying on his back in the bathtub looking out up at me when I pulled the curtain open. He caught me slipping.
And definitely if he had wanted to shoot me, he could've, and I'm glad he didn't. Yeah. So looking for people is scary. Looking for anybody is scary sometimes because you don't know. But looking for somebody that you know could very well use the weapon, they probably have to shoot at you, is scarier.
I once went to a shot fired call. And as I'm creeping in, I could hear a guy firing. I didn't know where he was, but he was firing from a second floor. And bullets were skipping through tree branches above me. T. Every shot and, it's not always like on tv.
I've been shot at a couple times where I didn't really know where the shots were coming from, and that's a scary situation.
Marcy: You mentioned that Deputy McKay sacrifice was so significant because he knew Dorner had skills and had just seen his partner go down, but he left his cover so that he could get directions and make sure that the other officers in the helicopter knew where this guy was.
Mark: Yeah. That's a point I wanted to make. That, the times that where people have fired shots, most of the time we get lucky because the shooters are unskilled. In this case, people that were looking for Dorner knew he was skilled. He had obviously just shot somebody.
Before he did that, the people hunting for him probably knew that he was gonna at least get the first shot off, which was accurate. And he did know how to use a weapon., looking for a guy under those conditions, it takes a lot of courage.
Marcy: Now, you told me that the most scared you remember being on duty was actually at the zoo.
Talk about that.
Mark: Yeah, I was sent to Alaska Zoo in the middle of the night because one of the Bengal tigers got loose. I was in Midtown. I had a lot of time, as I'm driving to get to the zoo, which is in South Anchorage.
And my mind is racing like all the ways this could go wrong. All those nature shows I'd ever seen with big cats tearing apart prey. And I'd imagine I'd be tastier than a gazelle and not nearly as fast. But there again, luck was on my side. The tiger just happened to wander back into his enclosure before I arrived.
Marcy: Oh, I do remember that call.
There were some bad shootings that happened that were somewhat related to that hunt for Dorner.
Mark: On the night, the Dorner shot the L LAPD and Riverside cars, two cars driven by completely unrelated civilians were shot in separate situations by police. one of the vehicles of Blue Toyota Tacoma occupied by two Hispanic women who were just delivering newspapers. And their truck was shot more than a hundred times by eight officers who happened across them.
Delivering papers. Luckily, they were not injured, as they dove for cover, but that's a horrible situation. And the second unrelated incident, police fired three times through the front windshield of black Honda Ridgeline, driven by a 38-year-old white male, completely unrelated to Dorner.
Marcy: Those cars. And those people didn't match Donner's description at all. So those officers were just freaking out because of all the stress.
Mark: The only answer to that has to be yes..
We cannot afford to make mistakes like that. As police officers, they do happen., I'll tell a personal story here. My mentor was murdered on duty. I wasn't there. I was a fairly new patrolman just in my mid-twenties. I had very little perspective on life, and I felt like if a great cop I respected could be killed like that, what chance did I have?
I was scared, and I was really pissed. I never acted on the feeling, but I never forgot how on edge I felt when I was on patrol after that for a long time. Much later in my career as a patrol sergeant, I was less than a mile away from an officer who was ambushed by a car who was driving past. That officer was hit numerous times on the side and chest.
And he had just been sitting in his car finishing a call. And the suspect drove by, shot him and sped away. As it happened, myself and a canine officer were first to arrive at that shooting scene.
And based on what I saw, I thought the officer was gonna die. I helped get him prepped for transport to the hospital and he looked like he was clinging to life. As the ambulance left, I was hit by that familiar emotion from earlier in my career: fear, but overwhelming anger. Within the next 30 minutes, as the hunt for the shooter became organized, and we started processing the shooting scene, I got calls from my lieutenant, who's not on duty. My captain and the chief.
Marcy: Was that normal?
Mark: No, absolutely not. But this is a very unusual situation. I talk to my lieutenant all the time. But the chain of command in my department was very important. So getting a direct call from the chief or deputy chief was rare.
Marcy: What happened?
Mark: I briefed them. They basically wanna know what the heck is going on, what happened, what do you know?
, so I briefed them, but I also had a recommendation in mind for them, which they followed., the officer who was shot was very well liked and respected on the shift. I told command, this is gonna hit the officers hard. I would recommend that we double them up in cars and that's something we never did.
Marcy: So you mean two officers are riding in every car?.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. I told them, this is ostensibly for safety, but just as important. I wanted the officers to be able to monitor each other for emotional overreaction. That was an important part of our training, that if you see an officer going outta control, you have to step in for everybody's sake.
And, on the night that officer was shot, I wanted that for my people. I didn't want any of them to do anything they wouldn't feel good about down the road or that could overshadow what had just happened.
Marcy: And before we move on, that officer lived.
He had a very long recovery. But he did, but he survived. That whole story is basically to say that police officers must do better than shoot up any car they see, because they're scared. It has to be better, but I can understand how that would happen.
Marcy: what do you think about the announcement that doer's firing was gonna be reexamined?
Mark: I'm sure, and something I read said this, that the people that were involved, all the way from, Theresa Evans all the way up to the people on the board, felt like the chief was stabbing in the back, didn't trust them., and on top of that, their lives were being threatened, but the chief wasn't backing there, judgment.
And the other thing about that is the critics who heard him say that, I'm sure it seemed like, well, it's a mission of guilt. Of course, L LAPD did something wrong with doers firing if they're gonna turnover and review it that easy.
The chief did that based on recommendations from the psychologist, who said that could buy time. And that's, maybe that would distract Dorner or slow him down from what he was doing. And, to me that, that seems like it's worth it.
Marcy: What do you think about Dorner hiding out so close to where he left him?
, burning truck?
Mark:. I've been involved in a few large area searches that were conducted rapidly. You're gonna miss some things, but what you're hoping happens is you get lucky. I don't envy the tasks they had. They had to be assessing the likelihood that he's there. And they're trying to focus his resources on where he might be anticipating to go next.
But I think some of the overestimation of his abilities caused errors there. Like, they thought, this guy's gonna jam outta here and get way out of our perimeter. And, like some slasher movie, the villain is everywhere. You don't expect him to be. But I think if you look at what he actually did, it was too much.
He didn't have the skills., if I had to critique on what they did. What I would say, based on my searching, when they didn't spot him right away, or get any, suspicious man moving across, yards or whatever, or, properties, they should have kept a fairly tight perimeter and like maybe a couple of square miles and meticulously gone through every property, combed through, got in touch with the owner, said, we gotta search your place.
We gotta make sure he is not here and gone through.. They would've gotten him because he went literally less than a five-minute walk down the street, and went to the ground. They would've found him in a very short time had they locked a tight perimeter down and gone over it.
We do that. When we look for kids, we got a missing kid. We always start from the house like, we have to look through your house, because a lot of times we get 'em right here. They are gonna stay, they're gonna go to ground, they're gonna be hiding and they're gonna fall asleep under the bed.
Now we have to make sure so we don't search all over the place for hours. We had to start tight and work our way out.
Marcy: When this manhunt was going on, did you think that Dorner was gonna kill himself?
Mark: Yeah, and the psychologists were right. Dorner was at the end of his rope. Once the manifesto was released, you really can see that.
But this whole thing was a slow motion suicide., I've said that a lot of these events, people do something crazy. Like you hear a teacher that kidnaps one of his students and goes, that's basically an end-of-life type deal. He's done something that is gonna change everything, a suicidal event.
And that's what Dorner did when he killed the two people. That's it. Everything else was going to end up on the way. It ended up with either somebody killing him; him forcing somebody to kill him, or he would shoot himself, which is what happened.
Marcy: How do you feel about the decision to use those flammable gas canisters to try to drive him out of the cabin?
Mark: Yeah, I'm sure that nobody in law enforcement shed a tear for him. But it was controversial. People that were detractors of LAPD and law enforcement in general, who basically said that they were trying to shut him up. He knew things and he would talk if he was captured, and we would know things, right?
I don't think this guy knew anything that he hadn't released and rambled about it in his manifesto. If he had said, I'm gonna surrender, I'm gonna come out. They would've taken him into custody, and sent him to prison.
Short of that, keep in mind he had killed a guy right out in front of the cabin, had badly injured, another one, and would've killed any number of people had he been able to, at any point, short of him surrendering, outright, surrendering him. This is a, what we call a green light situation, or a use of deadly force authorized situation.
You get a shot at this guy, take it. Because who knows what he's gonna do if you don't do that? And from the perspective of the scene commander, he had to be thinking, okay, so the sun setting, it's gonna be dark. He could take advantage of the darkness and something chaotic could happen.
He had to be thinking; I don't want one more person hurt by this guy., and I think that with that in mind, Dorner had the choice of flammable gas going in. You can come out, buddy. Come out, it's your choice or burn to death. And he decided not to surrender.
Marcy: Do you have information about?
some of this aftermath of people that were injured?
Mark: Yeah. The Riverside Police Officer, Andrew Tachias, survived the attack, but was permanently disabled, doesn't have use of his arms. He tried to return to the police department for a short time on administrative duty, but, later medically retired and he had, he was championing, higher pension benefits for police officers that are injured.
My pension, is depending on how much time you served in your earnings and so forth. And so when at the, if you're on FTO when you're injured, your benefits are, pretty low. I know that he, and people that support him have, lobbied California and I don't actually know what progress they've made, for better benefits for people that are injured.
Early in their career. Detective Alex Collins actually has two brothers in the same sheriff's department., he spent two months in the hospital and had to have seemingly endless surgeries. Repaired the injuries that I described when he was shot.
His head was badly damaged, lower. Part of his face and head were badly damaged. And legs and so forth, had pins so lengthy recovery. But he was able to return eventually to work in the sheriff's department's intelligence division.
The two women whose car was shot up, by police, got a four and a half million settlement for the city of Los Angeles. The couple, who was held hostage by Dorner and called in when he stole their purple suv. I loved it. I love that. It wasn't just a white, non-descript car.
It was a purple, brilliant purple. We're gonna find that guy. That couple got the reward money for finding Dorner, which is good. And l LAPD publicly released their conclusions following the review of doer's findings, basically publicly backing up the board for his termination.
Marcy: Still, there were people that supported Dorner during his rampage. They said that LAPD is a corrupt organization and that the people he killed deserve to die. What do you have to say about that?
Mark: The important thing to remember this story is not that it's about an underdog hero fighting back against a corrupt organization. That's what the crazy guy thought. The story here is about a man with psychological problems who chose to become a murderer and a thief.
Dorner stole their lives. Completely innocent people. And even if you buy the LAPD as a corrupt organization, what does that have to do with a young woman who coaches college basketball? What does that have to do with a field training officer in Riverside, California? Dorner's victims had dedicated themselves to public service.
He robbed their families of love and support, and he took from society the benefit of their good works.
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