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Christopher Dorner: Experts look for clues to alleged cop killer’s mental state (+video)

As hundreds of law enforcement officers continue to search the San Bernardino mountains for Christopher Dorner, experts and amateurs are delving into the psyche of the alleged cop killer.

By Staff writer / February 9, 2013

This surveillance video image shows Christopher Dorner at an Orange County, Calif., hotel on Jan 28. Hundreds of police officers are hunting for this former Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a deadly rampage to get back at those he blamed for ending his police career.

Irvine Police Department/AP

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As hundreds of law enforcement officers continue to search the San Bernardino mountains for Christopher Dorner, experts and amateurs are delving into the psyche and motivations of the alleged cop killer.

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He may have perished in the mountains east of Los Angeles, without the proper equipment or clothing to survive the harsh wintry weather. Or he may have drawn on his guile and training as a police officer and naval reserve lieutenant with the survival skills to elude capture, by now having left the area for parts unknown – perhaps as far away as Nevada, Arizona, or northern Mexico.

What’s known for sure is that Mr. Dorner burned with rage and the desire for revenge for what he describes in his 11-page manifesto posted on Facebook as a lifetime of racial discrimination leading up to his dismissal from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. And that’s given many observers enough information to examine and discuss the reasons behind what police say is a murderous rampage aimed at law officers.

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Writing on CNN’s website, James Alan Fox, professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, says Dorner’s rhetoric and actions are typical of mass murderers.

“Mass murderers tend to be middle-aged men who see themselves as victims of injustice,” Dr. Fox writes. “Although bitter, resentful and full of despair, they see others, often the former boss or supervisor, as the people who are to blame for their miserable existence. Indeed, the workplace is one of the more familiar venues for mass murder, going way back to the 1980s when ‘going postal’ became part of our everyday vernacular.”

In this case, Dorner’s “workplace” is the community where LAPD officers patrol, and the targets he warns of are those officers’ families. (The first of the three people he allegedly shot and killed was the adult daughter of a retired police captain he had known.)

Professor Fox sees the five people Dorner allegedly shot (two police officers survived) as an example of “murder by proxy.”

“Even when the primary targets are not readily available, others may be viewed as guilty – and may be assaulted – simply because of their association,” Fox writes. “Meanwhile, dozens more among the alleged gunman's hit list of enemies remain on edge and in hiding until it is safe to resurface.”

Until recent years, the LAPD had a longstanding reputation for corruption, racial profiling, and abuse – characteristics Dorner in his manifesto says remain today.

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