AN UNPRECEDENTED manhunt was continuing on Saturday across California, Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico, for a homicidal fugitive former police officer who says he has declared war on his former colleagues.
Christopher Dorner, 33, a US Navy veteran, said he was a victim of racism while serving in the Los Angeles police department.
Mr Dorner a trained marksman is suspected of killing three people, including a police officer, in shootings that began last weekend.
Swat teams with dogs and helicopters with infrared equipment fanned out across Big Bear Mountain, a heavily wooded skiing area 120 kilometres from Los Angeles, where his burnt out Nissan Titan ute was found on Thursday. They feared he could be trying to lure them into a trap.
He has claimed to be armed with an arsenal including a Browning .50 calibre sniper rifle, accurate from more than a kilometre, and a Russian-made SA-7 surface-to-air missile.
The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Charlie Beck, said: ''He knows what he's doing. We trained him … he's also a member of the armed forces. It is extremely worrisome and scary.''
At Big Bear, a village of 400 homes, the sheriff's spokeswoman, Cindy Bachman, said: ''We don't know what he's going to do. We know what he's capable of doing and we need to find him.''
Mr Dorner had sent a package to CNN's New York office which arrived on February 1. It contained a commemorative coin, of a type often given to police officers, with several bullet holes in it. A note said: ''I never lie.''
That was a reference to him having been sacked from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. He was accused of making false statements about a female officer after he had accused her of kicking a schizophrenic prisoner with dementia.
In a 20-page ''manifesto'' posted online, Mr Dorner said he was in favour of gun control. He claimed his murderous actions were a ''last resort'' for ''substantial change to occur within the LAPD''.
He also claimed he was racially abused, first at school, and then by two fellow officers who were only given ''slap on the wrist'' 22-day suspensions. He said the force had ''gotten worse'' since the Rodney King beating in 1991, and the Rampart scandal, which involved widespread corruption in the anti-gang unit in the late 1990s. The manifesto also included a hit list of 40 people, including police officers.
Mr Dorner is suspected of shooting Monica Quan, 28, and her partner Keith Lawrence, 27, a public safety officer in Irvine, south of Los Angeles, last weekend. Ms Quan's father was the police captain who represented Mr Dorner at his tribunal when he was sacked.
On Thursday, the eighth anniversary of the day he joined the police force, he was involved in a shoot-out with two officers in the nearby city of Corona in which one officer was injured. He is suspected of ambushing two other officers in their car at traffic lights 20 minutes later, killing one and injuring the other.
In the manifesto, Mr Dorner wrote: ''Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago. I will utilise every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance and survival training I've been given. You have misjudged a sleeping giant.''
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