RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KTLA) — Before the search for Christopher Dorner moved to the mountains, police say the former LAPD officer ambushed and shot two Riverside police officers.
One officer, an 11-year veteran of the department, was killed. The other officer, a 27-year-old Riverside rookie, was seriously wounded.
Hundreds gathered for a prayer vigil at Riverside City Hall on Thursday night to remember the slain officer.
“When a life is lost as senselessly as this one was, we just like to come together to show our support,” said Riverside pastor Lacey Sykes.
“It’s hard to be able to say ‘I miss you’ when you never got to say goodbye,” said chaplain Annetti Bullock. “They’re here to protect and serve. Who protects them?”
The two officers were ambushed as they sat at a stoplight early Thursday morning.
According to Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, two heroic citizens may have saved the rookie officer’s life.
“The officers were not in any condition to call for help on the radio. Because of one citizen’s assistance, we were able to get help right away,” Diaz said.
“And another citizen followed the suspect for a while,” he added.
Just minutes before that deadly encounter, Lee McDaniel came face-to-face with Dorner at a Corona gas station, and relayed that information to a passing LAPD unit.
“I said, ‘There he is, right there, getting on the freeway,’” Daniel recalled.
“And that’s when the two officers jumped in their car and pursued him to the Magnolia exit, where the first shooting took place.”
Dorner reportedly fired on the LAPD officers, grazing one of them in the head, before fleeing up into the mountains.
Throughout the day, as flags flew at half staff throughout Riverside, heavily armed police stood guard outside government buildings.
“This senseless act and this violent act and this surprise attack on our officers, that’s part of the tragedy of this,” said new Mayor Rusty Bailey. “They weren’t even able to defend themselves.”