What your name means to you: Part II

You are back for more. I am guessing I was a little rude in leaving you at the edge of your seat. But for good reason as this story has some key points that I don’t want to gloss over. Or maybe this is the first you have seen of this story. If so, I urge you to go back and read Part I first. The main character truly lost sight of his “Why” because he became too focused on one thing, and one thing only: HIMSELF. To grow you do indeed need to focus on yourself, but you need to focus on giving to others if you want to take your personal growth to a new level.

Back to February 7th. That was a busy day for me. I was already 4-weeks into a 6-week OBGYN rotation. Long hours, a few deliveries, some surgeries and little sleep, with two young children at home and a wife that was already sick and tired of me being a medical student after so many years of not having to go to school. Now my time would be consumed in a different way. My mind was racing at an all time high as I tried to put all of the news I was receiving into perspective. I could not turn on my phone, the radio, the TV or my computer without something about Chris popping up.

After receiving all of those unexpected phone calls, and then talking to one friend who seemed to have some important information, I asked a classmate to look up my name and Chris Dorner’s name in one GOOGLE search. I crossed my fingers that it would come up empty. I wanted to remain out of the picture.

Surge enough, my first look at the evidence. I was startled as I saw picture after picture of Chris and the manifesto; some of the same pictures that I had at home. The words in the manifesto that he used to describe his anger and his plan for revenge; they were beyond disheartening. I was sick to my stomach. I called my wife right away and told her to get home with the girls and stay put. Within minutes of my call, a news van planted itself outside of our home. And our landlord was supposed to come to the house today to do some work. Oh great! A camera was set up on the sidewalk. I could only imagine what my neighbors in a small and quiet suburb of Milwaukee, WI, were thinking. Eventually I would make it back to the house myself to witness this madness.

Many more phone calls kept my phone busy. I locked myself in the house and it was time to watch the news. Chris had achieved exactly what he desired: chaos. As I went from channel to channel, it was all about Chris and the destruction he was causing. And then right there before my very eyes, I was on TV. Chris in his police uniform, me in my khaki’s with one of my arms around him as I congratulated him upon graduating from the LAPD police academy on March 3rd, 2006. It was just a few hours after I had come out of surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. I did not want to miss his special day.

The knocks on the door started coming. I glanced out the window and before I could get up to answer the door, my wife blocked my pursuit and told me to stay put. She did not want me talking; at least not yet. A young 20-something blonde was requesting my story. My wife took care of that. For now I was to remain mute.

Everything was still a blur. After all, we were still on day 1. This would carry on for several more days.

Chris’s words to me from 4-years ago were ringing in my ears. His extreme anger about his good name being ruined kept echoing. I could not block it out.

So why was he so mad? Back in 2008, after Chris had returned from a deployment to the Arabian Gulf (LAPD had allowed him to fulfill a Navy Reserve obligation) he was assigned to Harbor Division in a southern part of Los Angeles, near San Pedro. Not a good area (then again, it is LA). During a night of patrol, he and his partner came across a schizophrenic gentleman and his father outside of an ATM machine. After an exchange of words, Chris’s partner kicked the man several times until he fell to the ground. The man never fought back. The entire thing was caught on camera, at least the voices and sounds, but nothing of a visual perspective, as the camera lens had been covered up by a third police officer’s hand.

For weeks Chris internalized the event. He was disgusted with himself for witnessing such a heinous act by one of his superior officers, and not saying or doing anything about it. Eventually he would come clean. He would cross the thin blue line of the LAPD. He would break the brotherly code. He knew what happened was wrong and he wanted to tell the truth. And that is when the demise of Chris Dorner began.

What I am telling you is all true. I listened to the tapes from the courtroom after Chris was subpoenaed. He was assigned an attorney who was very familiar with LAPD. He was placed on probation. His life was taking a major turn. His mother spent thousands of dollars in court fees to try and bring justice to a man that was only trying to do the right thing. A man who was trying to live up to his good name. A name that would no longer be innocent. That was 2008. That was the last time I saw Chris Dorner with my own two eyes.

Just months before this event I even drove with him to see his newly purchased home in Las Vegas. He planned to stay there on his days off, and then to live at his mother’s home during his assigned work days. He wanted to keep his personal life away from his work life as much as possible. Many police officers do exactly this, and for good reason.

At this point he had killed 2 people in Irvine, CA. A young lady who just happened to be a coach at the university I attended, and whose father was Chris’s attorney. That was Chris’s revenge for someone failing to protect his good name. And the other individual was her innocent boyfriend/fiancée that happened to be in her car with her the night of the Super Bowl, in the parking garage at their apartment.

The story was starting to come together. And it was getting worse by the minute.

No one could find Chris. He was becoming a master of disguise. A driver’s license left near the San Diego airport. A video from a sporting goods store showing him purchasing scuba gear. Another video showing him throwing military gear away in a trash bin behind a building in National City. An older gentleman with a boat who had reported being accosted by a man that fit Chris’s description, with Chris asking the man to take him to Mexico. According to the man, Chris finally gave up and left the area.

At this point there was no clear-cut answer. The authorities wondered if indeed he had gone to Mexico or if he somehow got away on an airplane. The state of California was on high alert, and other states were beginning to join in the action.

Chris would eventually kill 2 more people. But this time he went after those in uniform. While Chris was evading the authorities, I was trying to evade the news outlets. I was offered plane tickets to appear on some big time shows. I could not see the value of putting myself in front of the camera. I knew he was not going to stop because of me urging him to do so.

One of his friends from his college football days went in front of the screen, and after watching him sling a few words, it just made me feel worse. Whether I am right or wrong, I saw the gentleman showcasing himself, trying to look like a hero with his nice tailored suit and the mountains of Salt Lake City in the background. But then again, it is television. I just wanted Chris to stop and turn himself in, but I knew he would not do that. Anyone who read the manifesto knew he was not going to do that. He was going to kill himself before he let someone catch him.

I began to be followed by some reporters each day during my walk to school. It made for quite a long week. I wondered for a moment if Chris had left the state and was headed my way. But that idea did not last long after his truck was found abandoned and lit on fire on a mountainside in Big Bear, CA. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s department, with the aid of other organizations from the surrounding cities and counties, would lead the effort to find this old friend of mine. They would search home after home and come up empty.

What they failed to realize was that one of the very cabins that they had indeed searched, or that they at least thought they searched, had a newly minted murderer within its walls. And through a window he was watching their every move, as the window looked directly upon the control center. This would go on for approximately 4 or 5 days (I can say I truthfully don’t remember). And my situation in Wisconsin was not getting any easier.

I promise I will only keep you hanging for a little while longer. As we take a break at this point in the story please reflect on what your name means to you. It should have never gotten this bad for Chris, but then again I can only speak for myself. Chris had a right to be upset, but he had no right to kill innocent people. We can all agree on that. His ego became his obstacle, and once the dominoes were falling there was no turning back.

I have beaten myself up rather harshly over the past few years because of this situation even though I was out of Chris’s life for the 4-years preceding these events. I have kept wondering if I could have done anything to help him. I felt like I tried, but then again do we ever really know how hard we have truly tried when it comes to making a difference in another’s life? How do we actually measure that?

I will be back soon. Have a blessed day.

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