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Originally published Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 9:07 PM

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$1 million reward offered in sweeping hunt for ex-LAPD cop

Police are guarding the Southern California homes of dozens of families believed targets of Christopher Dorner based on his Facebook manifesto.

Associated PressThe Associated Press

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IRVINE, Calif. — Police blocked off a street and stood guard in front of a home in a typically quiet Southern California suburb Sunday, protecting a man they believe has been targeted by a fugitive ex-police officer suspected of killing three people and setting the region on edge by eluding authorities in a sprawling manhunt that has lasted days.

Irvine residents, meanwhile, were left to adjust to life in the midst of a heavy police presence and wonder when things might return to normal.

Authorities have been working to protect dozens of families in the area considered targets based on Christopher Dorner’s Facebook rant against those he held responsible for ending his career with the Los Angeles Police Department five years ago.

Among those the 33-year-old Dorner is suspected of killing is a Riverside police officer, and on the fourth day of the manhunt, authorities put up a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.

“We will not tolerate this reign of terror,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Just a few hours after the award announcement, a reported Dorner sighting had police surrounding a Los Angeles home-improvement store, but police spokesman Gus Villanueva could not immediately say whether the tip was legitimate.

After days without resolution, Dorner’s fugitive status caused concern among some and downright fear among others in Irvine, an upscale community the FBI consistently ranks among the safest cities in the U.S.

“If he did come around this corner, what could happen? We’re in the crossfire, with the cops right there,” said resident Joe Palacio, who lives down the street from the home surrounded by authorities protecting a police captain mentioned in Dorner’s posting.

“I do think about where I would put my family,” he said. “Would we call 911? Would we hide in the closet?”

The neighborhood has been flooded with authorities since Wednesday. Residents have seen police helicopters circle and cruisers stake out schools.

Some have responded by keeping their children home. Others no longer walk their dogs at night.

Dorner’s background added to the anxiety.

The former LAPD officer also served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and a pistol expert medal.

He was assigned to a naval undersea-warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records.

In his online post, Dorner vowed to use “every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance and survival training I’ve been given” to bring “warfare” to the LAPD and its families.

As tense Irvine residents went on with their lives, police looked into a taunting phone call to the father of the woman they believe Dorner killed last week.

Two law-enforcement officers who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation said they are trying to determine whether Dorner made the call telling retired police Capt. Randal Quan that he should have done a better job protecting his daughter.

The bodies of Monica Quan and her fiancé were found shot dead last Sunday in Irvine, marking the start of the high-profile case.

Things escalated early Thursday morning, when police say Dorner got into a shootout with police in Corona, grazing an LAPD officer’s head with a bullet before escaping.

Authorities believe he then used a rifle to ambush two Riverside police officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other.

About 65 miles away, the manhunt continued in the San Bernardino mountains near the ski town of Big Bear, where authorities found Dorner’s burned out pickup truck Thursday.

Police have since said they discovered weapons and camping gear inside the vehicle.

Meanwhile, police responded to the Sunday afternoon sighting report in Los Angeles, establishing a command post and slowly evacuating a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the city’s San Fernando Valley.

Villanueva couldn’t say whether Dorner was in the area.

With little apparent evidence pointing to Dorner’s whereabouts, worrisome questions emerged: How long could the intense search be sustained? And, if Dorner continues to evade capture, how do authorities protect dozens of former police colleagues whom he has publicly targeted?

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department has deployed 50 protection details to guard officers and their families who are deemed targets in Dorner’s manifesto.

“It can’t be one guy with a gun in a living room,” Smith said, suggesting that more officers would be necessary to keep families safe.

Authorities Sunday morning had six cars protecting Capt. Phil Tingirides, who chaired a disciplinary panel that stripped Dorner of his badge.

Police cruisers were posted on each end of his street, and four more were parked outside his home. At least a half-dozen officers were visibly standing guard.

The department, however, is looking for alternatives if the search for Dorner stretches on, whether it’s reducing the numbers of officers or something else, Smith said.

There were no plans to reduce protections until Dorner was in custody, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez.

As long as Dorner’s whereabouts are unknown, the department must provide protection to those named in his rant, said Chuck Drago, a Florida-based police consultant.

“We realize it costs money and it gets expensive, but this is as clear of a threat as you can get,” he said.

“We know that if he’s able to get to these targets then he’s probably able to hurt them. The money is always an issue but not when it’s somebody’s life at stake.”

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