LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities in California launched a statewide manhunt on Thursday for a fired Los Angeles policeman who threatened “warfare” on cops and was suspected in a string of shootings that killed three people, one of them a police officer, and wounded two others.
Former officer Christopher Dorner, 33, a U.S. Navy reservist, was suspected in an ambush shooting of two police officers in Riverside, east of Los Angeles, early on Thursday, killing one and critically wounding the other, police said.
He was also suspected of exchanging gunfire earlier in the morning, with two Los Angeles police officers who were on their way to provide protection for a person identified as a potential target of Dorner. One of those two officers suffered a graze wound to the head, but his partner was unhurt, police said.
Dorner had been named as a suspect on Wednesday in the weekend shooting deaths of the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain and her fiance, whose bodies were found on Sunday in the Orange County town of Irvine.
The victims were identified as Keith Lawrence, a University of Southern California patrol officer, and Monica Quan, an assistant basketball coach at California State University Fullerton. Her father, retired Los Angeles police Captain Randy Quan, represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that led to his termination from the department in 2008 for making false statements, Irvine police said.
Dorner was said to be driving a blue pickup truck on Thursday, but San Diego police were investigating an attempted boat theft on Wednesday night by a man matching his description.
The suspect in that incident tied up the owner of a 45-foot vessel moored at the Southwestern Yacht Club in San Diego Bay, but was unable to get the boat’s engine started and fled the scene, police Detective Gary Hassen said. The boat owner was unhurt.
Dorner wrote in a rambling, multi-page manifesto he had posted on Facebook: “The violence of action will be high. ... I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty.”
“The attacks will stop when the department states the truth about my innocence,” it added.
The manifesto, quoted by various news media on Thursday, appeared to have been removed from the social network site on Thursday, but Los Angeles television station KTLA posted a full copy of the document on its website.
The California Highway Patrol issued a “blue alert” on Dorner to law enforcement throughout the state after the Riverside shootings, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.
“The suspect is considered armed and extremely dangerous,” the alert said. “The suspect was involved in multiple shootings with multiple agencies in the Riverside ... area.”
Los Angeles police placed officers on a tactical alert and grounded all motorcycle patrols as a precaution, a police spokeswoman said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that police in Torrance, just south of Los Angeles, were involved in two shootings early on Thursday that occurred when officers encountered vehicles similar to the one Dorner is believed to be driving, but neither shooting actually involved the suspect.
Police told the newspaper that two people struck by gunfire in the first shooting were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries, and no officers were hurt.
Reporting by Steve Gorman and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alden Bentley, Dan Grebler, Steve Orlofsky and Leslie Gevirtz