‘Let’s move on:’ 10 years after Christopher Dorner siege in San Bernardino Mountains memories wane – San Bernardino Sun


Christopher Dorner is gone and, some San Bernardino Mountains residents say, mostly and preferably forgotten.

Ten years after the rogue ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer made headlines nationwide by waging his deadly reign of terror from Irvine to Angelus Oaks, he has become something of a footnote, a curiosity, a patch of land, except for those whose lives he shattered — and even then, some victims and survivors would rather put the ordeal behind them.

“From our experience here, it’s not that huge of a thing (now). It’s more of a local legend. Everyone has a friend who was involved or heard about it,” said Dylan Hughes, 22, a manager at Chains Required bicycle shop on Big Bear Boulevard.

Hughes said he has lived in the Big Bear area for eight years and only recently learned about Dorner.

“Really it’s kind of just regarding this crazy guy who came up here and tied people up and died by police,” he said.

There’s much more to the story, however.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Christopher Dorner

Dorner was fired in 2008 for making false statements in a report in which he said a training supervisor kicked a suspect. In retaliation, Dorner declared “unconventional and asymmetric warfare” upon a list of LAPD officers and their families in a lengthy Facebook post.

On Feb. 3, 2013, Dorner killed Monica Quan and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, in Irvine, police say. Quan was the daughter of Randal Quan, a former LAPD captain who represented Dorner during his 2008 dismissal hearing.

On Feb. 7, two LAPD officers on a protection detail in Corona were alerted to Dorner’s presence. They engaged in a gun battle, but Dorner escaped. About 20 minutes later, around 1:30 a.m., Dorner ambushed two Riverside officers, police say. Michael Crain was killed and Andrew Tachias, though gravely wounded, survived.

Law enforcement officers inspect a burned out Nissan pickup truck believed to be owned by ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner at Bear Mountain in Big Bear Thursday February 7, 2013.(Staff photo by Will Lester/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)
Law enforcement officers inspect a burned out Nissan pickup truck believed to be owned by ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner at Bear Mountain in Big Bear Thursday February 7, 2013.(Staff photo by Will Lester/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Later that day, Dorner’s burning vehicle was found on a mountain road in the Big Bear area. He took refuge in a complex of rental condominiums that overlooks Bear Mountain Resort, which would become the site of the law enforcement command post. That complex was searched without finding Dorner.

On Feb. 12, the owners of the condos, Jim and Karen Reynolds, called 911 to report that Dorner had tied them up and stolen their car. That car was tracked to Highway 38, where state Fish and Wildlife officers opened fire on Dorner near Glass Road, disabling the car. Dorner then carjacked the pickup of Rick Heltebrake, a caretaker at a nearby Boy Scout camp, and fled into a cabin at 7 Oaks Village on Seven Oaks Road, authorities said.

Dorner opened fire on officers as they arrived, killing San Bernardino County sheriff’s Detective Jeremiah MacKay and wounding Deputy Alex Collins. Officers fired tear gas into the cabin, setting it ablaze. Dorner then killed himself with a single gunshot, according to the autopsy report.

A ceramic angel statue overlooks the burned out cabin which is all that remains of fugitive Christopher Dorner's last stand in Seven Oaks Feb. 15, 2013. (GABRIEL LUIS ACOSTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
A ceramic angel statue overlooks the burned out cabin which is all that remains of fugitive Christopher Dorner’s last stand in Seven Oaks Feb. 15, 2013. (GABRIEL LUIS ACOSTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

The cabin burned down around him.

Immediately afterward, the site became a macabre tourist attraction. The owners at the time of The Oaks Restaurant, located about 10 miles away on Highway 38, kept handwritten maps at the ready and said upwards of 200 people showed up looking for the cabin on the first weekend after the siege. Some sifted through the rubble for souvenirs.

Since then, however, according to the family that purchased the restaurant a couple of years ago, few tourists have inquired.

“It’s rare,” said Vince Lupian, 24, whose brother Samuel is the owner. “Some people ask if this is close to the cabin. What’s more talked about are the officers who passed.”

He finds it “sad” that the area has become known for the tragedy.

“People ask about camping and fishing and I let them know Seven Oaks is known for both and they’ll be like ‘Is that the place where they caught Christopher Dorner?’ ” he said.

His sister, Amy Ruiz, 33, was a server at the restaurant on and off but not when Dorner came to town.

“It’s interesting to me how people will want to see something like that (cabin). Knowing how much tragedy went around it,” she said.

Ruiz said her most indelible memory was her concern for her children who were locked down at Fallsvale Elementary School well into the night. Ruiz walked across the highway from her home to the restaurant, where she sought news from officers who along with media had taken over the property near a roadblock.

“It was chaos,” she said.

Ruiz’s children would later have nightmares that Dorner was trying to break into their home, but those eventually faded.

Ruiz defied orders from her mother, who upon leaving for a trip to Mexico that day had cautioned her children to stay home.

“The first thing I see in Mexico on the news is my daughter (doing an interview),” said Teresa Lupian, 52. “I called right away (and told her) ‘I told you to stay home.’ “

The day would end with the cabin destroyed.

Now, there is nothing left of it to see. Although the cabin owners received a $200,000 settlement from the county, they did not rebuild.

A man who identified himself as Dr. Yu said he purchased the property several years ago and has no plans to add to the existing half-dozen or so cabins. He didn’t want to talk about it in a brief phone interview. Property records say the owner is Byong Y. Yu.

“I want people to forget because so many people come around,” he said.

Other reminders of the tragedy have been lost to history, as well.



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