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Christopher Dorner manhunt: Investigators on wild goose chase?

This undated photo released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles officer. (Los Angeles Police Department)
February 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
As the manhunt continues Friday for suspected cop killer Christopher Dorner, there is concern that he might be leading law enforcement on a wild goose chase.

Christopher Dorner manhunt: See a timeline of key events

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the ground and aerial search for Dorner would be suspended overnight Friday and will resume Saturday morning. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department also said that until they find some kind of evidence that Dorner is in fact not in the Big Bear area, they will continue to search for him.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Spokeswoman Cindy Bachman held a 4 p.m. PT news conference from the command station. Bachman said foot tracks were investigated, including ski tracks "associated with" the foot tracks, and were determined not to belong to Dorner.

A cabin six miles from the scene was found with its door kicked in. Authorities determined it was old damage and that there was no recent activity there.

Bachman confirmed that Dorner's mother owns property in Arrowbear, about 35 miles away from the scene. The property is undeveloped and has no structures built on it. Authorities investigated and cleared that site.

The sheriff's command station was moved from a golf course to the Big Bear sheriff's station on Summit Boulevard. The golf course was closer to the site of where Dorner's burning truck was found Thursday.

More than 100 law enforcement officers were conducting a door-to-door search of homes in the area. Sheriff's officials say they have two-man teams searching nearly 400 homes, but they're also warning residents not to open their doors unless they know the person or they see a uniformed law enforcement officer.

San Bernardino County Assistant Sheriff John McMahon told reporters during a Friday briefing that search teams are making sure to check approximately 200 unoccupied cabins in the area.

The only clue that Dorner was even in the Big Bear area was the discovery of his Nissan Titan pickup truck Thursday morning. The vehicle was found burning along a U.S. Forest Service road at about 8:30 a.m. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department later confirmed the truck belongs to Dorner. The truck was to be turned over to Irvine Police, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said.

The discovery of the truck brought local, state and federal law enforcement swarming to the ski resort community. An intense search turned up tracks in the snow leading that abruptly ended.

"Certainly, there has been time to get out of here, but we're not sure if he has in fact left. There's a number of places on the mountain that we haven't got to yet that we're continuing to search," said McMahon.

The search shut down Bear Mountain Ski Resort Thursday and placed local schools on lockdown. All Bear Valley Unified schools were closed Friday as a precaution due to the ongoing search. However, both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts were open.

Authorities hauled Dorner's truck to a San Bernardino crime lab Thursday. Investigators hope evidence found in the truck will provide some clues to Dorner's whereabouts.

Authorities concerned over Dorner's knowledge of police tactics

Authorities say Dorner may be utilizing his knowledge of both police and military tactics to evade capture.

In one of many troubling passages in Dorner's elaborate manifesto, he said "I know your techniques and tactics." It's a message aimed directly at Dorner's former colleagues in law enforcement, making it clear that he plans to use his police training to his advantage.

"If someone's got background in law enforcement, they've trained in tactics, they're going to have the knowledge and ability to predict our actions more than somebody that hasn't," said Mike Parker, a captain with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

So does that mean Dorner has been manipulating the manhunt?

"I think he's telling us, 'Look, I'm not going to follow a blueprint that you think I would predictably follow,'" said Brad Garret, a former FBI profiler and an ABC News security consultant. He says Dorner is probably taking precautions.

"Because of police training and military training, he would maybe do the obvious, like dump his cell phones, perhaps not use his credit cards," Garrett said.

As for an ending to this saga, Garrett says the chances of a peaceful resolution are slim.

"He's either going to get into a shootout with the police, kill himself, or luck might have it that they're able to grab him by surprise," he said.

The public got a glimpse into Dorner's abilities and training in a video from 2005 shown on Eyewitness News Friday night. The video was shot by a man who wanted to remain anonymous. In the video, Dorner is seen as a cadet, and it provides a look into the weapons he may be carrying.

La Palma Home of Dorner's mother searched

Meantime, authorities searched the La Palma home of Dorner's mother on Friday, hoping to find some clues.

"I wouldn't say it's a matter of routine, this is definitely part of our investigative strategy," said Lt. Bill Whalen with the Irvine PD. "This is a residence he was believed to have lived at. It's a residence belonging to his mother, so we're searching for any evidence related to where he might be or in connection with the crimes he is alleged to have committed."

The Irvine Police Department has the lead on the search warrant of the house, which is listed as one of Dorner's last known addresses. They're being assisted by La Palma police, LAPD, U.S. marshals and the FBI. They spent the day carrying objects in paper bags out of the home, while Dorner's mother and sister were inside.

Dorner suspect in double murder, police shootings

The 33-year-old former Los Angeles police officer triggered this massive manhunt after allegedly opening fire on three officers in the Inland Empire on Thursday, killing one.

The slain officer served with the Riverside Police Department, which has set up a fund for those who want to make donations to that officer's family.

You can mail checks to:

Riverside Police Officers Association Assistance Fund (RPOA)
1965 Chicago Ave, Suite B
Riverside, CA 92507

The chain of events began Sunday after an Irvine couple, Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence, were found shot to death inside a car in the parking garage of their apartment complex. Quan is the daughter of an LAPD captain who represented Dorner during disciplinary hearings, which resulted in his dismissal from the department.

Ex-LAPD Officer Chris Dorner manifesto: Read it now

Dorner implicated himself in the weekend retaliation murders in a multi-page manifesto, which also included his intent to restore his reputation by exacting revenge on specific officers he felt had a part in his firing.

Authorities emphasize that Dorner is armed and considered extremely dangerous. If seen, do not attempt to contact him and call 911.


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