The manhunt for Christopher Dorner shifted south of the border, with Mexican authorities searching a Tijuana hotel after receiving a tip that the fired Los Angeles police officer could be there.
But the search for the 33-year-old fugitive – suspected of killing three people – turned up empty after law enforcement officials raided the Tapatio Hotel in Tijuana Monday night. U.S. Customs and Border Protection have continued to increase scrutiny of people headed toward the Mexican border this week, especially along the San Ysidro border where Dorner’s wallet and identification cards were found last week.
In a federal warrant filed for Dorner’s arrest, U.S. Marshals state there is probable cause Dorner may have attempted to flee to Mexico. Dorner, who is suspected of killing a Riverside police officer and the daughter of a retired LAPD captain and her fiancé, is also accused of attempting to steal a boat in San Diego Thursday morning but failing after the bow line became entangled in the propeller.
Although the five-day search for Dorner has focused in the Big Bear area, the warrant and the raid in Tijuana show the manhunt’s expanse. Dorner, fired in 2009, accuses the LAPD of corruption and prejudice in an online manifesto in which he names specific officers he claims were responsible for the end of his career. He also makes general threats against others in the department.
More than 1,000 tips have been submitted from the public since officials announced a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest, said Lt. Andy Nieman of the Los Angeles Police Department. The multi-agency task force charged with finding Dorner has been wading through the leads trying to follow up on the most credible, he said.
Meanwhile, Holy Angels School in Arcadia, which has a connection to Dorner, remained closed for the second day Tuesday as a precaution. The school is part of Holy Angels Parish, which is led by the Rev. Michael Evans, brother of a Los Angeles police sergeant who was involved in a 2007 incident mentioned in the online manifesto attributed to Dorner.
The federal search warrant also reveals authorities have been keeping track of some of Dorner’s associates, including a person referred to only as “J.Y.”
The search warrant – filed the day Dorner is suspected of shooting at two patrol cars in Riverside County, killing one officer and injuring two others – does not state “J.Y.” has assisted Dorner in any way. It states “J.Y.’s” family owns property in Arrowbear, near the location where Dorner’s truck was found burning in a wooded area. It also states U.S. Marshals kept track of “J.Y.”, who was found that same day in Costa Mesa.
Speaking to reporters outside LAPD headquarters Tuesday, Nieman said he would not comment on associates of Dorner connected to the manhunt or if Dorner had attempted to reach out to anyone since Thursday.
“This investigation has to stick with what we know,” he said.
The last time authorities confirmed Dorner’s location was the shootings in Riverside County, he said, and the Big Bear area continues to be searched because his truck was found there.
Nieman said Big Bear residents are being asked to go through surveillance video from their homes.
“He was there because his vehicle was there,” he said. The video could “confirm he was truly there and not just his truck was there.”
Investigators in the task force also are looking at surveillance video captured at a Sports Chalet in Torrance two days before the Feb. 3 Irvine shootings of an engaged couple where a man resembling Dorner is seen purchasing several scuba tanks.
Investigators are reviewing the footage, but have been unable to confirm whether the person is Dorner, Nieman said.
On Monday, the Riverside County District Attorney filed the first criminal charges against Dorner, including allegations that Dorner killed Riverside Officer Michael Crain, 34, after firing from his Nissan Titan pickup.
The shooting occurred two days after Dorner is suspected of killling Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence in the parking lot of their Irvine home. Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain who represented Dorner during personnel hearings that led to Dorner’s dismissal from the department.
The federal search warrant also states that at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday – two days after his daughter was killed – retired LAPD Capt. Randall Quan received a call from someone who identified himself as Dorner, who said Randall Quan “should have done a better job of protecting his daughter.”
But officials seem to have traced the call to Vancouver, Wash., and Dorner is not believed to have been in that area because he was spotted in Riverside County just hours earlier.
Authorities are asking anyone with information on Dorner’s whereabouts to call 213-486-6860. Anyone who sees him is asked to immediately dial 911.
By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ/ ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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