LAPD manhunt: Big Bear residents wonder how officers missed Christopher Dorner

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People who live in and around the Moonstone neighborhood below the Bear Mountain Ski Resort are scratching their heads after accused murderer and ex-LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner turned up there – close to the same place police began searching for him.

One resident, Andrea Benson, was incredulous: “When they showed a map and they pointed where he was, I said, 'Are you kidding me?'"

Benson lives about 500 yards from where the couple that owns the Mountain Vista Resort   apparently found Dorner inside unit number 203 on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday night that Karen and Jim Reynolds entered the unit at about noon and found Dorner inside. He tied them up and stole their car. Karen Reynolds was able to use her cell phone to call police.

RELATED: LAPD manhunt: The search for suspected murderer Christopher Dorner

The condominium sits across the street from where police conducted media briefings and coordinated the first few days of the search for Dorner in Big Bear after finding his burned out truck nearby.

“I think in some ways, they definitely screwed up,” Benson said.

Police have not said whether they searched that condo, a two-story wooden duplex nestled among the pines. They had said they would not inspect vacant rental units unless there were signs of forced entry.  At the back of number 203 on Wednesday, a visitor could see freshly-chipped wood on a window frame and a detached screen leaning against the condo wall.  It was unclear when the damage occurred and the screen removed.

“It’s pretty unnerving that he was right next door,” said Bruce Doucett, who lives two doors down from the condo.  But he defended the police search of the area.

“They did everything they could,” Doucett said. He noted there are many vacant rentals in the area during the winter, and that searching each one would have been a “huge undertaking.” Others mentioned how dark it gets in the mountains at night.

Doucett is of the opinion Dorner entered the condo before a snowstorm hit the area Friday. “I didn’t see footprints around there after that.”

Benson said her home on Moonstone Drive was not searched. “They never came anywhere on our street,” she said. “No knocking our door.”

“For the first time in my entire life, I thought, 'Wouldn’t a shotgun be nice?'” she said.

Benson’s husband had a different view.

“I honestly was not overly concerned,” said Dennis Benson.  “I’m just not going to get worked up over something like that because I couldn’t control it.”

Residents on edge

For six days, many Big Bear residents maintained a vigilant lookout for Dorner. One person, who asked not to be identified, stood outside the condo and stared at the dozens of reporters and photographers who flocked to view Dorner’s alleged hiding place.

“Its amazing he wasn’t discovered,” he said, adding, “You felt maybe this guy was lurking around the next tree, ready to jump out at you,”

Later, a young man carrying a snowboard walked by on his way down from the slopes.  Curt Murchison, 21, said he had passed by the condo daily since the search began.

“I still went snowboarding every day,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid. I knew he was targeting cops.”

As life returned to a routine without the heavy presence of law enforcement searching for a killer, Benson said she could finally take her dog out for a proper walk.  Prissy, an Italian Greyhound-Jack Russell mix, received short shrift when Dorner was on the loose.

“I walked my dog very fast.”

Prissy was of only limited help during the threat.

“She’s a good barker, but that’s about it,” Benson said of the small animal that was decked out for the snow in a polka-dotted vest.

What do you think of how the search for Christopher Dorner went? Let us know in the comments.

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