IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — A $1 million reward for a fugitive ex-police officer wanted in the slayings of three people took authorities to a San Fernando Valley home improvement store but so far prompted no credible leads in the search for Christopher Dorner.
The manhunt for him, coupled with the need for added security at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, left the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department stretched thin. A tactical alert began Sunday afternoon and remained in effect Monday for all city officers, which means they’re staying on duty beyond their shifts.
Besides responding to the usual calls for service, police have been protecting dozens of families in the area considered targets based on Dorner’s Facebook rant against those he held responsible for ending his career with the LAPD five years ago.
Among those Dorner, 33, is suspected of killing is a Riverside police officer, and on the fourth day of the manhunt, authorities put up a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.
“Our dedication to catch this killer remains steadfast. Our confidence remains unshaken,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference alongside police chiefs and mayors from Irvine and Riverside. “We will not tolerate this reign of terror.”
Several tips came in within a few hours after the award announcement, including a reported Dorner sighting that had police surrounding and evacuating a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in LA’s San Fernando Valley, police spokesman Gus Villanueva said. A search of the store yielded no evidence that Dorner was there or had been there.
After days without resolution, Dorner’s fugitive status caused concern among some and downright fear among others in Irvine, an upscale community that the FBI consistently ranks among the safest cities in the U.S.
“If he did come around this corner, what could happen? We’re in the crossfire, with the cops right there,” said Irvine resident Joe Palacio, who lives down the street from the home surrounded by authorities protecting a police captain mentioned in Dorner’s posting.
“I do think about where I would put my family,” he said. “Would we call 911? Would we hide in the closet?”
The neighborhood has been flooded with authorities since Wednesday. Residents have seen police helicopters circle and cruisers stake out schools. Some have responded by keeping their children home. Others no longer walk their dogs at night.
Police also were looking into a taunting phone call to the father of the woman they believe Dorner killed last week.
Two law enforcement officers who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation told The Associated Press they are trying to determine whether Dorner made the call telling retired police Capt. Randal Quan that he should have done a better job protecting his daughter.
The bodies of Monica Quan and her fiance were found shot dead last Sunday in Irvine, marking the start of the high-profile case.
Things escalated early Thursday, when police say Dorner got into a shootout with police in Corona, grazing an LAPD officer’s head with a bullet before escaping. Authorities believe he then used a rifle to ambush two Riverside police officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other.
Police had withheld the names of victims both living and dead victims because of fears of Dorner targeting their families, but on Sunday the Riverside Police Department released the name of the officer killed, 34-year-old ex-Marine and 11 year department veteran Michael Crain.
The Anaheim native and father of two will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery on Wednesday.
Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said police had hoped Dorner would be in custody by now, but they decided to proceed with the identification and public memorial.
“We’re not going to fail our officer and our hero,” Diaz said Sunday. “We’re going to bury him.”