Police have swarmed through the ski resorts of Big Bear after reportedly finding a burning pick-up truck belonging to the former colleague who has terrorised southern California’s police in a bloody vendetta.
A huge manhunt for Christopher Jordan Dorner shifted to the mountain resort east of Los Angeles on Thursday as television pictures showed a truck burning amid snow and pine trees. Police across California and Nevada were put on high alert.
Schools and stores in Big Bear were put on lockdown shortly after midday local time and ski resorts were evacuated on suspicion the scenic area was now a hideout for the fugitive accused of a series of shootings that have left three dead and two wounded.
Sergio Diaz, the police chief of Riverside, south of LA, called the former LAPD officer “depraved” and of “abandoned mind and heart” after two separate shootings early on Thursday left one officer dead and another two wounded, one seriously.
Dorner, 33, declared “war” against former colleagues and their families in a manifesto posted online. It named at least 40 people as targets, prompting roadblocks and protection details across parts of southern California.
His first alleged victims were Monica Quan, 28, a basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, 27, a public safety officer at the University of Southern California, who were found shot dead in their car on Sunday night.
Quan’s father, a former police captain, had represented Dorner at a 2009 police tribunal which upheld a decision to fire him in 2008. Dorner was found to have falsely accused a female colleague of beating a vagrant. He then accused his defence team of negligence.
This week, five years later, the former navy reservist allegedly took revenge using his skills as a trained marksman.
“The violence of action will be high … I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty … you will now live the life of the prey,” Dorner wrote.
The rambling online manifesto also included appeals and advice to celebrities such as Larry David, Charlie Sheen, Tim Tebow and Ellen De Generes.
After Sunday’s shooting he allegedly tried to hijack a boat to take him to Mexico but it suffered engine trouble. Police say he next surfaced at 1.30am in Corona where two LAPD officers were providing protection for someone named in the manifesto. One suffered a graze to the head during the shootout.
A short while later Dorner allegedly ambushed two officers waiting at a red light in Riverside, killing one, a veteran, and wounding the other, a trainee.
With dawn yet to break police lashed out but picked the wrong targets. Officers from the Hollywood division shot up a pick-up truck in Torrance, thinking it was Dorner’s grey Nissan, only to find they had wounded two women who were delivering newspapers. They were taken to hospital.
A few minutes later officers in another part of Torrance opened fire on another pick-up driven mistaken for Dorner’s. No one was injured.
Twitter erupted with complaints of trigger-happy police. Local television urged people to avoid using pick-ups until the crisis passed.