LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles police will re-examine the 2008 firing of an officer wanted in three slayings, the police chief said on Saturday as a massive manhunt for the fugitive stretched from a southern California mountaintop to the Mexican border.
Police Chief Charlie Beck called on the former officer Christopher Dorner, 33, to turn himself in and tell his side of the story. Dorner was dismissed after officials found he had made false statements accusing another officer of using excessive force.
One of the three people Dorner is accused of killing this week is the 28-year-old daughter of a retired police captain who represented him in a disciplinary action that led to his firing. He is also wanted for the killing of the young woman’s fiance and an officer from the town of Riverside.
Dorner posted an online manifesto this week that declared war on law enforcement and complained of his 2008 firing. Some online commentators have expressed support for Dorner and aired grievances against police.
Beck said in a statement he was not re-opening the probe into Dorner’s firing “to appease a murderer.”
“I do it to reassure the public that their police department is transparent and fair in all the things we do,” he said.
Beck’s decision was first reported by local television station KCBS, which carried a lengthy interview with him.
Officials have called on Dorner to surrender.
“He can turn himself in anywhere and he’ll be taken into custody and he’ll be able to get his side of the story out,” LAPD spokesman Commander Andrew Smith told reporters.
Police details in southern California are protecting more than 50 officers and their families who have been threatened by Dorner, after he named specific enemies in the department in his rambling manifesto, Smith said.
Police also plan to bolster their force of officers standing guard at the Grammy Awards in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, he said.
Police have said they believe Dorner has multiple weapons, including an assault-style rifle. He claimed in his manifesto to possess Russian-made shoulder-launched missile systems, but that could not be confirmed.
The hunt for Dorner has centered on the area of Big Bear Lake, a popular ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains about 80 miles (129 km) northeast of Los Angeles, where his burning pickup truck was discovered on Thursday. Authorities have acknowledged he may have slipped away undetected.
Officers have used dogs, helicopters and armored personnel carriers equipped with snow chains to maneuver through the mountains. Over 100 officers have been deployed to the area.
Dorner joined the Navy in 2002 and the LAPD in 2005, and he has received marksmanship training in both jobs.
Federal agents at the border with Mexico were screening vehicles to prevent Dorner from fleeing the country, said U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts. Southbound traffic into the border town of Tijuana was clogged, with the backup extending over 3 miles (5 km) on Saturday.
Police served a search warrant on Saturday at a Buena Park, California, storage locker believed to be tied to Dorner, a Los Angeles police spokeswoman said. The contents of the locker were not disclosed.
Authorities said they have established a task force to find Dorner that includes the U.S. Marshals, the FBI and several local police agencies.
Los Angeles police officers are no longer patrolling solo or on motorbikes, Smith said.
In a Hollywood-style twist, controversial actor Charlie Sheen of television show “Anger Management” addressed Dorner in a video posted to celebrity website TMZ on Saturday. Dorner had praised Sheen and other celebrities in his manifesto.
“I am urging you to call me,” Sheen said in addressing Dorner. “Let’s figure out together how to end this thing.” (Additional reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego and Brandon Lowrey in Los Angeles, Editing by Kevin Gray and Sandra Maler)