Authorities say they’ve narrowed their search around Big Bear for triple murder suspect and ex-police officer Christopher Dorner. Meanwhile, heavy snow is falling on the mountain. That’s keeping a lot of skiers and snowboarders inside.
As snow plows around Bear Mountain Resort try to keep up with the downfall, many skiers and snowboarders have taken refuge inside. A lot of them are talking about the same thing: Christopher Dorner, and whether or not he’s still up here somewhere on the mountain.
“Oh yeah, it’s a huge controversy," said snowboarding instructor Kiana Coyle. Her friends spent much of the night arguing about what might have happened to the fugitive, she said. She thinks he’s still in the area, mostly because there are still so many police here searching for him.
“If we’re already thinking he got a getaway car or he’s already gone, don’t you think they would have thought that, too?” said Coyle
Sean Moughan, also an instructor, thinks the burning truck authorities found was a decoy, meant to distract police from the suspect’s true location.
“My guess is there would be a timer for him to light it on fire. And then, gone,“ Moughan said. ”Or, he’s in a cabin in the area somewhere, eating food. Probably 40 to 60 percent of the cabins in that area are empty.”
Police have said they’re focusing their search on such cabins — about 200 of them — where officers are going door-to-door looking for Dorner. Meanwhile, most people don’t seem particularly nervous that a person described as armed and dangerous is potentially nearby.
“We’re mountain folk. We have guns and artillery in our house," Moughan said.
Brent Tregaskis, general manager of Bear Mountain Ski Resort, says the experience has, nonetheless, burst the town of 5,000 people’s bubble a bit.
“We feel insulated from L.A. in general, and don’t have a lot of that near us,“ Tregaskis said. ”So pretty unusual to have a crime scene and that kind of stuff happen in a little town like Big Bear.”
Then there’s the house-by-house searches police have been doing. Down in the town of Big Bear, a resident, who asked that we not use his name, said police came to his house and asked to search just as he was getting home.
“Pulled out their handguns, and with handguns drawn, swept through my house, checking in every room, came back out and told me it was all clear and all right for me to go inside," the local resident said.
The drama’s been interesting, he said, but maybe not as big a deal as it seems.
Closing on Thursday afternoon when the Dorner search was in high gear didn't affect business as the mountain much — but Tregaskis said Friday is off about 15 percent.
"I think part of that is just because there's chain requirements, to get there right now — and the negative press of there being somebody on the loose," Tregaskis said.
Skiing conditions are good, Tregaskis said — and after talking with authorities Thursday night, Bear Mountain management decided there was no danger to reopening the slopes with the Dorner search underway.