Correction: LAPD-Revenge Killings-The Ruins story

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013
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A short while later in nearby Riverside, SWAT team Officer Michael Crain and trainee Andrew Tachias were in the middle of a graveyard shift.

The 34-year-old former Marine had served two tours of duty in Kuwait before joining the Riverside force in 2001. As a Marine, Crain had once taught urban warfare tactics, but on this day he had no time to react.

The two were waiting at a stoplight when someone — believed to be Dorner — raced up and opened fire on them. Tachias, 27, was critically wounded; Crain was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Before dawn, freeway signs lit up statewide with a description of Dorner and his pickup, and a warning that he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Later that morning, authorities found a burned-out pickup truck near the Bear Mountain ski area in the San Bernardino Mountains. The truck, which had a broken axle, was loaded with weapons and camping gear.

Police later confirmed it was the black Nissan Titan Dorner had so religiously buffed and polished.

Tips poured in, topping 1,000 after a $1 million reward was posted on Feb. 9. The Mexican navy went on alert following a report that Dorner had attempted to steal a yacht in San Diego.

Other suspected sightings of Dorner over the week led to authorities mistakenly firing on two newspaper carriers, shutting down a Navy base in San Diego, evacuating a Los Angeles area home improvement store, and raiding at a low-budget motel across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. But the manhunt was centered on the mountains. That was Jeremiah MacKay's territory.

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MacKay's father, Alan, is something of a legend in these hills.

A former captain with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the elder MacKay had played a key role during the 2003 "Old Fire," which burned more than 91,000 acres, killed five people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. The Redlands resident put in 15-hour days, fighting the fire and acting as a department spokesman when needed.

Loftis says the son had initially planned to follow in the father's footsteps. But a few ride-alongs with deputies patrolling the waters of Lake Arrowhead convinced him to go for another type of badge.

The younger MacKay had been putting in 12-hour days searching for Dorner. On Feb. 9, an Associated Press reporter ran across him during a patrol around the lake.

Despite having been on duty since 5 a.m., MacKay and his partner were in good spirits. Standing by the car door in full tactical gear, MacKay tucked the stock of his Mini-14 rifle against his shoulder and practiced sighting down the barrel, aiming playfully at a snowdrift.

"This one, you just never know if the guy's going to pop out or where he's going to pop out," he told a reporter, crinkling his brow and shaking his head. "We're hoping this comes to a close without any more casualties. The best thing would be for him to give up."

The next day, MacKay was excited to see his photo on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. But he chided himself, cousin Kelly Mitchell says, for having what he considered "a smug look" on his face.

Jeremiah and Lynette MacKay married in late 2011. Lynette had a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship; about four months ago, she gave birth to a son.

As a bagpiper for the Inland Empire Emerald Society, MacKay had played at many memorials and funerals for fallen officers. He knew this hunt was perilous, but he knew just as well that Dorner had to be stopped.

And he was determined to be the one who did it.

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Jim and Karen Reynolds were in the process of refurbishing their condo near Big Bear, working on it off and on through the winter season. They had last been there on Feb. 6 and weren't planning to come back until Valentine's Day, but decided to check in early after learning that Dorner's truck had been abandoned nearby.

When they walked into the upstairs living room Tuesday morning, Dorner was waiting for them with his gun drawn. He had been there at least five days — within shouting distance of a command post set up by the people hunting him.

"Stay calm," he shouted. When Karen Reynolds turned to run out, he grabbed her from behind.

Karen Reynolds said Dorner was calm and "very methodical" as he instructed them to sit, then tied their hands and legs.

"I don't have a problem with you," he told the couple. "I just want to clear my name."

Dorner moved the couple to a bedroom and shut the door.

When they felt he had gone, Karen Reynolds managed to get to her feet and, with her hands still tied behind her back, open the door. To her amazement, Dorner had left her cellphone on the living room table.

She picked it up and dialed 911. It was 12:22 p.m. Tuesday.

Dorner had taken off in the couple's purple Nissan SUV. It wasn't long before officers, now alerted, spotted the fugitive.

Dorner managed to evade a group of wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and some sheriff's deputies. But he later crashed the Nissan and struck out on foot.

Rick Heltebrake was driving the perimeter of a Boy Scout camp he watches over when Dorner — his bulletproof vest bristling with rifle magazines — emerged from the tree line.

"I don't want to hurt you," Dorner said in a calm, businesslike voice as he pointed his rifle at the 51-year-old Heltebrake. "Start walking and take your dog."

Heltebrake sensed that Dorner, who stole his truck, was on a mission, and that he wasn't part of the agenda. Suni took his 3-year-old Dalmatian and walked away.

Heltebrake had just called police when he heard gunfire.

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When he left the house that morning, MacKay told his wife that he'd never been happier, Mitchell, his cousin, said. He called her the love of his life.

Hours later, he was on the trail of the stolen pickup.

The fugitive raced 25 miles down the mountain as officers converged. MacKay and his partner, Alex Collins, responded.

Not far up the road from where Dorner had left Heltebrake, some game wardens spotted the white truck speeding erratically. Dorner opened the window and fired.

According to sheriff's department officials, MacKay and his partner followed where they believed the truck had gone. They were unaware that Dorner had crashed it. They spotted tracks in the snow leading to a cabin and got out of their cruiser.

The pair stopped about 30 yards from the cabin to devise a plan when shots were fired. Neither deputy had a chance to return fire. Both were hit multiple times. A doctor told Loftis death for MacKay came instantly or in "just seconds."

Collins survived but has undergone multiple surgeries. A SWAT team arrived quickly and laid down covering fire to allow the officers to be airlifted.

Dorner set off some smoke grenades and prepared to make his last stand. His end game would play out on live television.

Officers from across the region converged on the cabin, cutting off all escape. Four hours after the chase Tuesday, police launched tear gas through the windows.

Around 4:45 p.m., flames and smoke began billowing from the house. Officers then heard the single gunshot from inside.

The manhunt was over.

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In the end, Dorner fell blessedly short of his stated goals.

Despite declaring war on "those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty," the only victim with a direct link to the department was Monica Quan. And it is more than a little ironic that a man lashing out against racial injustice should murder the daughter of the LAPD's first Chinese-American captain.

A joint memorial service for Quan and Lawrence is planned for Feb. 24 at Irvine's Concordia University, where they met. Lawrence — at the request of his father — will be buried in his public safety officer's uniform, said his training supervisor Capt. David Carlisle.

The service had been on hold while Quan's father was in custody to protect him from Dorner's rampage.

On Wednesday, Crain — the father who loved attending his 4-year-old daughter's dance recitals and coaching his son's baseball team — was buried with full honors. His 10-year-old son, Ian, joined officers carrying his father's casket out of the church to the mournful drone of bagpipes.

MacKay's funeral is scheduled Thursday at San Bernardino's San Manuel Amphitheater. The Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, with whom he'd often played, will be there to send him off.

Loftis is having trouble imagining life without his friend. Coming to grips with the depth of Dorner's betrayal is even harder.

"He got the best of us. He took one of the best that we have," he said ruefully. "He lost a job because he didn't deserve it, and he takes these officers' lives, really, for nothing. It was stupid and senseless."

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Julie Watson and Tami Abdollah reported from California; A. Breed reported from Raleigh, N.C. Associated Press writers Greg Risling, Gillian Flaccus, Robert Jablon in Los Angeles; Elliot Spagat in San Diego; Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; and researchers Rhonda Shafner and Susan James in New York contributed to this report.