Shootout or suicide likely fate of L.A. fugitive; ‘Not going to be taken alive’

A massive Southern California manhunt entered its sixth day without running to the ground shooting suspect Christopher Dorner, leading to questions as to how long the former Los Angeles police officer can elude authorities.

One prediction: Not much longer. In all likelihood, Mr. Dorner will either commit suicide or involve himself in a gunfight that ends in his death, said Ron Martinelli, an ex-cop and forensic criminologist who has acted as a consultant for Southern California police departments.

“This is going to end badly,” said Mr. Martinelli, whose consulting practice is based in Temecula, Calif. “Hopefully it ends peacefully, where he goes to a mountaintop or a ravine and kills himself, but this guy is not going to be taken alive.”

Still, Mr. Dorner, 33, has shown a remarkable ability to avoid detection in the face of an all-points bulletin manhunt that has gripped the Golden State. He was officially charged Monday with the murder of Riverside police officer Michael Crain in an ambush last week. He was also charged with attempted murder for attacks on another Riverside officer and two Los Angeles Police Department officers.

“By both his words and conduct, he has made very clear to us that every law enforcement officer in Southern California is in danger of being shot and killed,” Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said.

A former Navy Reserve lieutenant with sniper training, Mr. Dorner is also suspected of killing the daughter of a retired LAPD captain and her fiance as they sat in their car in an Irvine parking lot. The suspect posted a manifesto on Facebook saying he wanted revenge after being fired from the department in 2008.

A multi-agency manhunt involving as many as 600 officers zeroed in on the Big Bear Lake area east of Los Angeles, after Mr. Dorner’s burnt-out truck was found there Thursday. Since then, however, there have been no confirmed sightings of the suspect, despite a $1 million reward for his capture.

Mr. Dorner’s ability to avoid detection has led to comparisons to Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, the focus of a $24 million manhunt who hid in the North Carolina woods for more than five years before he was captured in 2003.

It’s highly unlikely Mr. Dorner will be able to do the same, said Mr. Martinelli. His background and the rambling 11-page manifesto indicate that he’s more interested in picking off his enemies than slipping away into the shadows.

“The biggest mistake he made is he left behind his manifesto. He told us who all of his targets were,” said Mr. Martinelli.

He said the manifesto indicates that Mr. Dorner fits most of the elements of the “Suicide Risk Assessment” profile used by psychologists, including depression, social isolation, isolation from his family, feelings of hopelessness and poor social coping skills.

“What mitigates against him is, No. 1, this guy is severely depressed, he’s not getting much sleep, and this is wearing down on him,” said Mr. Martinelli. “There was a lot of braggadocio in the manifesto, but when you look at it, this guy has been troubled for years.”

The triggering event may have been twofold: He was discharged Feb. 1 from the Navy, three days before the attacks began, and his legal challenges to his firing were going nowhere.

Even if Mr. Dorner did decide to go underground, said Mr. Martinelli, it would be difficult for him to fit in for long in a place like Big Bear, where most of the residents are white and Mr. Dorner is black. That nobody has seen him in Big Bear could mean that he used his truck as a decoy and has since fled the area.

“There are several different scenarios. They may find him propped up against a tree in Big Bear covered with snow with a bullet in his head,” said Mr. Martinelli. “Or he could have escaped the net. He may have fled to Mexico.”

The search for Mr. Dorner, one of the largest in California history, stretches hundreds of miles from the Mexican border to Los Angeles and the San Bernardino mountains.

If cornered, Mr. Dorner is unlikely to surrender. “He’s not going to allow himself to be put in a contained environment taking orders from people he hates,” said Mr. Martinelli.

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