Rogue ex-cop became a folk hero to some

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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LOS ANGELES -- It sounds like the plot line to a movie: A former L.A. cop goes on a violent, rage-filled rampage until he is pinned in a mountain cabin that goes up in flames.

Instead, it was the latest real-life crime story to grip Southern California, a place where fiction frequently blurs with reality and pop culture often plays larger than the truth.

Christopher Dorner's alleged killing spree didn't just terrorize a section of the country -- it captured people's imagination and attention.

As of Monday, the triple-murder suspect had more than 70 Facebook fan pages, some with thousands of "likes."

Many people were going on those pages to call him an American hero, a man of true conviction who was fighting for his beliefs.

Others praised him for attempting to fight injustice and racism "by any means necessary," quoting the expression popularized by Malcolm X during the 1960s Black Power movement.

Even Charlie Sheen asked the missing suspect to give him a call. "Let's figure out together how to end this thing," the star of the TV series Anger Management said in a video posted on the website TMZ.com.

Dorner's shoutout to Sheen, "You're effin awesome," came in a long, rambling manifesto the former cop allegedly posted online in which he accused the Los Angeles Police Department of wrongly firing him, railed against racism and other abuses, and weighed in on his favorite movies and celebrities.

In recent days, Dorner would attack, and then, just like a scene out of a movie, he vanished Rambo-like into the deep snow of a sprawling national forest 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Authorities found his burned-out car with weapons inside last week, but he was then able to evade a search coordinated by the FBI, LAPD and other police agencies. Until Tuesday afternoon.

His ability until then to elude one of the largest manhunts in memory quickly elevated Dorner to folk-hero status among some.

Dorner T-shirts were selling Tuesday for as much as $18. In addition, a photo of a large man who vaguely resembles Dorner and is wearing a T-shirt with the words "Not Chris Dorner, Please Do Not Shoot," has been shared repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter.

"My first thought was this is the stuff movies are made of," said Karen North, a social media expert at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School. But then her second thought, North said, was that unlike the anti-heroes played to such great effect by Sylvester Stallone in the Rambo movies, Dorner had no redeeming qualities.

"He's killed people who are real people with real families and real friends, and he's terrorized entire communities," she said.

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