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Rogue ex-police officer eludes manhunt in Calif. mountains

A San Bernardino County Sheriff SWAT team returns to a command post at Bear Mountain near Big Bear Lake, Calif.

Associated Press

A San Bernardino County Sheriff SWAT team returns to a command post at Bear Mountain near Big Bear Lake, Calif.

New York Times

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — The search for the former Los Angeles police officer wanted in three killings continued throughout the day here Friday, even as a blizzard covered the mountains with a foot of snow. But as no new traces of the suspect were found, the authorities wondered if he had somehow slipped through their fingers.

Law enforcement agencies from across Southern California had been on a regionwide manhunt since early Thursday for Christopher Dorner, 33, a former Navy reservist sought in connection with the shooting deaths of three people and the attempted shootings of several other police officials as revenge for being fired from the Los Angeles force.

Over the course of the week, since the first killing on Sunday, Dorner had been spotted all over Southern California, from Riverside to San Diego. His trail seemed to lead to Big Bear Lake on Thursday, when a burned-out pickup truck found at the base of the mountain was identified as belonging to Dorner.

Law enforcement followed tracks from the vehicle into the woods. With only a few routes in and out of town, they were confident they had Dorner cornered.

More than 100 law enforcement officers have spent the last two days combing the area, going door to door overnight, taking special care to investigate remote cabins and other vacation homes whose owners were away, and scanning the area by helicopter.

But they have been unable to turn up any new clues, Sheriff John McMahon of San Bernardino County said at a news conference Friday.

"We searched all night; we did not discover any additional evidence," McMahon said. "We will continue searching until either we discover that he left the mountain, or we find him."

"We don't have any evidence to suggest that he is or is not here," he added.

For the second day in a row, local schools were closed, keeping schoolchildren and their yellow buses off the mountain roads in the midst of the search.

Still, as the search continued without new evidence, and the ski resort reopened, life in the town began to return to normal. Skiers and snowboarders flocked to the mountain to take advantage of the fresh powder. And both local residents and visitors expressed growing skepticism that Dorner was — or ever had been — in town. Instead, many thought the pickup truck was a diversion.

"He left the car here to attract everyone here," said Yvette Blunt, 66, a Big Bear Lake resident. "That way, he can go somewhere else."

Rogue ex-police officer eludes manhunt in Calif. mountains 02/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:30pm]
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