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Entries in California (368)

Thursday
Feb142013

Couple Recounts Being Held Hostage by Christopher Dorner

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The California couple held hostage by Christopher Dorner, the ex-Los Angeles Police Department cop suspected of killing four people, said their ordeal lasted a few minutes but seemed like hours.

Karen and Jim Reynolds said at a news conference on Wednesday that they think Dorner, 33, was holed up in their unoccupied San Bernardino Mountains cabin since Friday, only steps from where cops had set up a command center.

"He said four or five times that he didn't have a problem with us, he just wanted to clear his name," Jim said.  "He said I don't have a problem with you, so I'm not going to hurt you."

Dorner tied their arms and put pillowcases over their heads before fleeing in their purple Nissan.

Before he fled, the couple said Dorner told them that he had been watching them before he took over their cabin.  Dorner told the couple he could tell they were "hard working, good people."

"He had been watching us and saw me shoveling the snow Friday," Jim said.

The two said they left the cabin door unlocked and that could have been the reason Dorner was able to enter undetected.

Dorner remained "calm and meticulous" throughout the harrowing ordeal, the couple said.

The Reynolds were some of the last people to see Dorner before what appears to be his final encounter with police.

Charred remains of the body believed to be Dorner were removed from another cabin high in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear, Calif., on Wednesday, the apparent site of Dorner's last stand.

The Reynolds walked into their cabin around noon Tuesday when they came face-to-face with Dorner.  There was no question in their minds who he was: the suspected cop killer at the center of one of the largest manhunts in recent memory.

"I thought we were dead," Jim said with a nervous chuckle.

The whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes, but felt much longer for the couple.

"It felt like 15 hours with him," Karen said.

The Reynolds finally managed to break free and untie themselves after Dorner escaped with their car.  Jim called 911 on a cellphone he managed to stuff in a couch cushion without Dorner's knowing.

After Dorner fled the Reynolds' cabin, he moved to another cabin in the area where he apparently engaged in a shootout with police, killing one deputy and wounding another, before the building was consumed by flames.

"We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Wednesday evening, although he noted that pyrotechnic canisters known as "burners" were fired into the cabin during a tear-gas assault in an effort to flush out Dorner.

The canisters generate high temperatures, he added.

While the actual cause of the fire is still unknown, the manhunt for Dorner has ceased and the Reynolds' story fills in much of what police didn't know about his whereabouts since he crashed his car and set it ablaze last week.

"The events that occurred [Tuesday] in the Big Bear area brought to close an extensive manhunt," McMahon said.

"I cannot absolutely, positively confirm it was him," he added.

The deceased deputy was identified as Det. Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a 15-year veteran and the father of two children: a daughter, 7, and son, 4 months old.

Dorner is also suspected of killing Monica Quan and her fiance, who were found shot to death on Feb. 3.  Quan was the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who was mentioned as a target of Dorner's fury in his manifesto.

Dorner is also suspected in the shooting death of Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain.  His funeral was Wednesday.

In a 6,000-word "manifesto," Dorner outlined his anger at the Los Angeles Police Department for firing him, and made threats against individuals he believed were responsible for ending his career with the police force five years ago.  Dorner was fired after filing what the LAPD determined to be a false report accusing other cops of brutality.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb142013

Remains Not Yet ID'd, but Sheriff Considers Christopher Dorner Manhunt Over

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(BIG BEAR, Calif.) -- Though they have not yet identified burned remains found at the scene of Tuesday's fiery, armed standoff, San Bernardino, Calif., officials consider the manhunt over for Christopher Dorner, the fugitive ex-cop accused of going on a killing spree.

"The events that occurred yesterday in the Big Bear area brought to close an extensive manhunt," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Wednesday evening.

"I cannot absolutely, positively confirm it was him," he added.

However, McMahon noted the physical description of the suspect authorities pursued to a cabin at the standoff scene, as well as the suspect's behavior during the chase and standoff, matched those of the fugitive.

The charred remains of the body believed to be that of Dorner were removed from the cabin high in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear, Calif., the apparent site of the 33-year-old's last stand. Cornered inside the mountain cabin Tuesday, the suspect shot at cops, fatally wounding one deputy and injuring another before the building was consumed by flames.

"We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out," McMahon said Wednesday night, though he noted pyrotechnic canisters known as "burners" were fired into the cabin during a tear gas assault in an effort to flush out Dorner. The canisters generate high temperatures, he added.

The deputies wounded in the firefight were airlifted to a nearby hospital, where one died, police said.

The deceased deputy was identified Wednesday night as Det. Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a 15-year veteran and the father of two children -- a daughter, 7, and son, 4 months old.

"Our department is grieving from this event," McMahon said. "It is a terrible deal for all of us."

The wounded deputy, identified as Alex Collins, was undergoing multiple surgeries for his wounds at a hospital, McMahon said, but was expected to make a full recovery.

Before the final standoff, Dorner was apparently holed up in a snow-covered cabin in the California mountains just steps from where police had set up a command post and held press conferences during a five-day manhunt.

Since last Thursday, hundreds of cops scoured the mountains near Big Bear, a resort area in Southern California, using bloodhounds and thermal-imaging technology mounted to helicopters in the search for Dorner.

The former police officer and Navy marksman was being hunted as the suspect who allegedly killed a Monica Quan and her fiance, who were found shot to death Feb. 3. Last Thursday, he allegedly gunned down Riverside, California Michael Crain, who was laid to rest Wednesday. Crain's shooting and the discovery of an online "manifesto" pledging to kill dozens of cops, launched the dragnet.

Quan was the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who was mentioned as a target of Dorner's fury in Dorner's screed declaring he was bent on revenge and pledged to kill dozens of LAPD cops and their family members.

The manhunt for Dorner, one of the biggest in recent memory, led police to follow clues across the West and into Mexico, but it ended just miles from where Dorner's trail went cold last week.

But it now appears that Dorner never left the area.

"There were rounds being fired," McMahon told reporters Wednesday evening about the last stand. "It was absolutely incredible. It was like being in a war zone."

McMahon called the deputies at the scene "heroes" for persisting in the face of fire from the cabin, noting, "The rounds kept coming but the deputies did not give up."

Some local television stations broadcast police scanner recordings of the firefight, the chatter punctuated by the sound of automatic gunfire.

"It was horrifying to listen to that firefight and to hear those words," said LAPD spokesman Lt. Andrew Neiman. "'Officer down' is the most gut-wrenching experience that you can have as a police officer."

Over the course of the next five hours, heavily armed SWAT teams with tank-like vehicles surrounded the cabin, even firing tear gas inside, but never entered the building.

Cops said they heard a single gunshot go off from inside the cabin just as they began to see smoke and fire. Later they heard the sound of more gunshots, the sound of ammunition being ignited by the heat of the blaze, law enforcement officials said.

In the 6,000-word "manifesto," Dorner outlined his anger at the Los Angeles Police Department for firing him, and made threats against individuals he believed were responsible for ending his career with the police force five years ago. Dorner's grievance with police goes back five years, when he was fired for filing what the LAPD determined to be a false report accusing other cops of brutality.

The LAPD assigned 50 protection details to guard officers and their families who were deemed possible targets. The LAPD said Wednesday it would maintain the details until Dorner's body was positively identified.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb132013

California Rescuers See Spike in Sick Sea Lion Pups on Beaches

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAGUNA CANYON, Calif.) -- More than 100 sick sea lion pups have washed ashore on California beaches in the past month, say rescuers.

Staff members at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Canyon, Calif. have taken in 38 of the starving pups so far. They say all have been brought in malnourished and in need of medical attention. More continue to come in daily.

“We have handled as many as 108 animals at one time, and are well prepared to handle many more than we have now if need be,” animal care director Michele Hunter said.

Melissa Sciacca, the center’s director of development, said the center treats 200 to 300 animals a year. In terms of the amount of sea lions being washed up on shore, rescuers usually don’t see these type of numbers until springtime, but it’s “nothing to be alarmed about.”

“Each year brings in different numbers. We never really know what to expect,” Sciacca told ABC News. “We typically don’t see these types of numbers until a little later, usually April and May, so it’s possible that our busy season is starting a little earlier this year, which may mean that it will end earlier too.”

PMMC has been in operation for 40 years and primarily rescues sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals.

“We run full diagnostic panels on all of our patients to understand as much as possible what is affecting them,” Sciacca said. “Once the animals are fully recovered and have been given a clean bill of health, we return them to the wild for a second chance at life.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb132013

Christopher Dorner Manhunt: Charred Human Remains Found in Cabin

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Investigators have located charred human remains in the burned-out California cabin where they believe suspected cop killer and ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner was holed up as the structure burned to the ground, police said.

The human remains were found within the debris of the burned cabin and identification will be attempted through forensic means, the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department said in a press release early Wednesday morning.

Dorner barricaded himself in the cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear Tuesday afternoon after engaging in a gunfight with police, killing one officer and injuring another, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which is the lead agency in the action, said on Tuesday night that investigators would remain at the site all night.

When Bachman was asked if police thought Dorner was still in the burning cabin, she said, "Right....We believe that the person that barricaded himself inside the cabin engaged in gunfire with our deputies and other law enforcement officers is still inside there, even though the building burned."

Bachman spoke shortly after the Los Angeles Police Department denied earlier reports that a body was found in the cabin, contradicting what law enforcement sources told ABC News and other news organizations.

Police around the cabin told ABC News they saw Dorner enter but never leave the building as it was consumed by flames, creating a billowing column of black smoke seen for miles.

A press conference is scheduled for later Wednesday in San Bernardino.

The sheriff's deputy killed during the shootout with Dorner Tuesday afternoon is believed to be his fourth victim after killing an LAPD officer and two other people this month, including the daughter of a former police captain.

Police received a 911 call at 12:20 p.m. PT that a suspect resembling Dorner had broken into a home in the Big Bear area, taken two hostages and stolen a car.

The two hostages, who were tied up by Dorner but later escaped, were evaluated by paramedics and were determined to be uninjured.

Officials say Dorner crashed the stolen vehicle and fled on foot to the cabin where he barricaded himself and exchanged fire with deputies from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office and state Fish and Game officers.

The deputy who was wounded in the firefight with Dorner Tuesday afternoon is expected to survive, police said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb112013

Possible Sighting of Christopher Dorner Leads to Store Evacuation

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A Northridge, Calif., home improvement store was evacuated Sunday night because of a possible sighting of suspected cop-killer Christopher Dorner, just hours after police announced a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

As helicopters hovered overhead and a command center was established, police searched the Lowe's store and eventually told shoppers they could leave but could not take their cars out of the parking lot.  An "all clear" was called at around 8:30 p.m. local time.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Gus Villanueva said the major response to the possible sighting was a precaution, but couldn't say whether Dorner was in the area.

The announcement of the $1 million reward on Sunday came as authorities in Big Bear, Calif., scaled back their search for Dorner, the disgruntled ex-cop who is suspected in three revenge killings.

"This is the largest local reward ever offered, to our knowledge," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference on Sunday.  "This is an act of domestic terrorism.  This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public.  His actions cannot go unanswered."

The money for the reward was pooled by businesses, government, local law enforcement leaders and individual donors, Beck said.

The reward comes on the fourth day of a manhunt for Dorner, who has left Southern California on edge after he allegedly went on a killing spree last week to avenge his firing from the police force.  Dorner outlined his grievances in a 6,000-word so-called "manifesto" and said he will keep killing until the truth is known about his case.

Dorner's threats have prompted the LAPD to provide more than 50 law enforcement families with security and surveillance detail, Beck said.

Authorities are chasing leads, however they declined to say where in order to not impede the investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb082013

Terror Sting: California Man Arrested in Taliban Car Bomb Plot

Doug Menuez/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Federal agents arrested a California man Friday morning in a terror sting after he allegedly tried to detonate a car bomb at an Oakland bank as part of a Taliban plot.

The FBI said the explosive device that Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, of San Jose tried to use was not operable and posed no threat, and that Llaneza's Taliban contact was actually an undercover agent.

According to authorities, in November Llaneza met with a man he believed was linked to the Taliban and the mujahideen in Afghanistan. At their initial meeting, Llaneza allegedly proposed a car-bomb attack against a bank and making the bombing look like the work of anti-government militias. According to the criminal complaint, Llaneza wanted to spark a government crackdown and a right-wing backlash that would lead to civil war.

Llaneza and his Taliban contact, who was really an informant, then allegedly constructed the bomb inside an SUV parked in Hayward, Calif. On the evening of Feb. 7, according to the complaint, Llaneza parked the SUV outside a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Road in Oakland and then walked to a nearby location, where he met the undercover agent. He was arrested by the South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force after he allegedly attempted to detonate the bomb via cellphone.

Llaneza appeared before a federal judge in Oakland Friday morning, and will return for a bail hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13. He is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb042013

California Bus Crash Leaves Eight Dead, Dozens Injured

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(YUCAIPA, Calif.) -- At least eight people were killed and 38 others were injured when a tour bus collided with two other vehicles in Southern California Sunday night.

The accident happened around 6:30 p.m. on State Route 38 near Yucaipa.  According to officials, the bus, which was carrying a tour group from Tijuana, Mexico, hit a sedan, flipped over and then hit a pick-up truck.

"The bus is overturned.  There's significant damage to the passenger side of the bus.  And obviously quite a bit of debris is kind of thrown and spread out all over the place," said Ronald Walls, a battalion chief for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported at least 17 people were critically injured.

"Some of the victims have been thrown from the vehicle as well.  When it rolled, several of them were ejected from the vehicle as well," Walls said.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash.

"We're talking to witnesses, we're talking to the parties involved.  There's a possibility of mechanical issues with the bus.  And that's what our multi-disciplinary action team is doing right now at the scene," said Officer Mario Lopez of the California Highway Patrol.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Monday it was also launching a team to investigate the incident.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Calif. School Shooting: Gunman Told Teacher 'I Don't Want to Shoot You'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TAFT, Calif.) -- A California teacher's brave conversation with a 16-year-old gunman who had opened fire on his classroom bullies allowed 28 other students to quickly escape what could have been a massacre.

Science teacher Ryan Heber calmly confronted the teenager on Thursday after he shot and critically wounded a classmate who authorities say had bullied the boy for more than a year at Taft Union High School.

"I don't want to shoot you," the teen gunman told Heber, who convinced the teen to drop his weapon, a high-power shotgun.

Responding to calls of shots fired, campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields arrived at the classroom and helped Heber talk the boy into giving up the weapon.

"This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.  "They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."

One student, who police say the shooter had targeted, was shot.  He was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical, but stable condition, Youngblood said.  He is expected to undergo surgery on Friday.

Two other students received minor injuries.  One suffered hearing loss and another fell over a table while evacuating.  Heber received a wound to his head from a stray pellet, police said.

Police said the teen, whose name has not been made public because he is a minor, began plotting on Wednesday night to kill two students he felt had bullied him.

Authorities believe the suspect found his older brother's gun and brought it into the school just before 9 a.m. on Thursday and went to Heber's second-floor classroom, where a first-period science class with 20 students was taking place.

"He planned the event," Youngblood said.  "Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind.  Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet."

Within one minute of the shooting, a 911 call was placed and police arrived on the scene.  An announcement was made placing the school on lockdown and warning teachers and students that the precautions were "not a drill."

The school had recently announced new safety procedures following last month's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 young children were killed.  Six school staffers, including the principal, were killed as they tried to protect the children from gunman Adam Lanza.

Taft Union High School employs an armed security guard, but he was not on campus Thursday morning.

Youngblood said the student would be charged with attempted murder, but the district attorney would decide if he was to be tried as an adult.

Some 900 students attend Taft Union High School, located in Taft, Calif., a rural community in southern California.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Teacher Talks Shooter into Dropping Gun at California School

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(TAFT, Calif.) -- A California high school teacher is being hailed a hero for talking a 16-year-old shooter into putting down his gun and turning himself in after opening fire on a classroom and wounding another student, police said.

The student victim was taken to a nearby hospital and remains in critical but stable condition, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters on Thursday.

The teacher, whose name has not yet been officially released by authorities, helped evacuate nearly two dozen students out a door at Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif., while calmly engaging the young gunman, who is a student at Taft Union, in conversation.

The teacher and a campus supervisor, who responded to the gunfire and arrived at the classroom, helped convince the teenager to stop shooting.

"They talked him into putting the shotgun down," Youngblood said.

The shooting began around 9 a.m. Thursday in the school's science building and sheriff's deputies were on the scene within one minute of the call.  An armed security guard who is typically at the school was not on campus because he had been snowed in, the sheriff said.

Two other students received minor injuries: One reported hearing loss and the other fell over a table.  The teacher was shot with a pellet, but refused medical treatment, according to police.

The school's 900 students were evacuated from the building and many of them were met by parents within minutes of the first 911 calls.

Thursday's shooting comes less than month after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire on an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

WATCH: Hot-Air Balloon Wedding Crash Caught on Tape

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It was supposed to have been a romantic sunset wedding in a hot-air balloon for Kerin and Jonathan Narcisse.  But romance quickly turned to fear as the couple and 11 others, including their wedding party and the balloon's operator, braced for a crash landing.

One moment Kerin and Jonathan were exchanging their wedding vows, thousands of feet in the air; the next, the newlyweds were on their sides, stranded, in a stranger's backyard.  A member of the wedding party recorded Monday's crash on her cellphone.

The newlyweds had no idea what was happening.

"A couple times he tried to land, we floated over," Jonathan Narcisse said.  "We kept missing landing spots.  Next thing you know, we're descending and I'm thinking, 'How is he going to land here, because there's no place to land.'"

The balloon hit a fence, skidded through some trees, and then stopped.

"I got a little worried when we hit the fence and I thought, 'Well, if the fence doesn't stop us then we're going down this hill,'" Kerin Narcisse said.

Making the ordeal all the more terrifying, the bride's dream of a mid-air wedding was actually the groom's worst nightmare, as it turns out.  He's scared of heights.

"I am," he said.  "Terrified."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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