The former Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing four people in a shooting rampage is most likely dead. The giant manhunt in Southern California for Christopher Dorner is over as the suspect probably killed himself during a standoff with police on Tuesday in Big Bear Lake, near San Bernardino. Cornered in a remote cabin that caught fire after police shot tear gas through its windows, he may have taken his own life with a single bullet -- witnesses said they heard a single gunshot from inside the cabin -- as the wooden building burned.
An official familiar with the investigation and who requested anonymity told the Associated Press that a driver’s license with Dorner’s name has been found near the charred body in the cabin’s ruins.
But even this seeming resolution doesn’t fully close the curtain on the latest high-profile gun tragedy in America. Dorner may be dead, but he left behind a troubling, crazed manifesto containing grave allegations against his former colleagues at the LAPD, whom he accuses of racism and other offenses ranging from stealing money from drug dealers to sadistically hurting civilians in police custody. Allegations so grave, in fact, the Los Angeles Police Department has opened an internal investigation into Dorner’s 2008 dismissal, the pivotal incident that -- at least in the words of the suspect -- led directly to the rampage.
The manifesto has appeared in many locations online, including the Los Angeles Times (warning: strong language), which said the LAPD found it on a Facebook page it believes was Dorner’s.
The manifesto isn’t destined for the annals of literature. It's an 18-page deluge of Pentagon jargon, bureaucratese and soldier-speak that would make even the geekiest Tom Clancy reader have to Google a few of the more obscure acronyms. It's also in large part a lengthy catalog of personal slights and a record of episodes of racism and brutality -- some quite disturbing -- that the writer alleges took place before his eyes and were either ignored or investigated half-heartedly. The document is notable for its deranged, vengeful tone more than for its political content.
(The conservative blogosphere has jumped on Dorner’s positive words for Barack Obama, but this misses the point entirely. Conservatives hoping to find an Obama-supporting, black-power radical in Christopher Dorner will be disappointed to learn he liked George H. W. Bush, too, and openly said that his candidate in 2012 was Republican Jon Huntsman -- and he wrote that he didn’t vote in the last presidential election because his man didn't make it past the primaries.)
But the real story in Dorner’s crazy manifesto may be his enthusiastic, uncompromising support of gun control.
Here is a man who is suspected of having killed four other humans with firearms; who wielded high-power weapons as part of his job, throughout his entire professional life in the Navy and then the police; who describes in detail his cache of assault weapons -- but who also launches into a passionate rant explaining why people should not have those arms.
“In my cache you will find several small arms. In the cache, Bushmaster firearms, Remington precision rifles, and AAC Suppressors (silencers). All of these small arms are manufactured by Cerberus/Freedom Group. The same company responsible for the Portland mall shooting, Webster, NY, and Sandy Hook massacre,” the (alleged) Dorner wrote.
“In the end, I hope that you will realize that the small arms I utilize should not be accessed with the ease that I obtained them. Who in [their] right mind needs a f***ing silencer!!! who needs a freaking SBR AR15? No one. No more Virginia Tech, Columbine HS, Wisconsin temple, Aurora theatre, Portland malls, Tucson rally, Newtown Sandy Hook. Whether by executive order or thru a bi-partisan congress an assault weapons ban needs to be reinstituted. Period!!!,” the manifesto also said.
Sandwiched between a litany of episodes of alleged abuse and a hodgepodge of ranting advice to movie directors, politicians, cyclists, football players and seemingly everybody else in modern American life, the plea of a disturbed gun-toting mass murderer for more gun control sounds even weirder.
But the very fact that it comes from Dorner makes those words seem even stronger. Western culture has long ascribed to dying men, and psychopaths, the ability to speak uncomfortable truths -- and Dorner knew he was not long for this world when he wrote, “Never again should any public official state that their prayers and thoughts are with the family. That has become cliche and meaningless. Its time for action. Let this be your legacy that you bestow to America.”