And then, just like a scene out of a movie, he vanished Rambo-like, presumably into the deep snow of a sprawling national forest 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Authorities found his burned-out car with weapons inside last week but, so far, no trace of him despite a search coordinated by the FBI, LAPD and other police agencies.
"My first thought was this is the stuff movies are made of," said Karen North, a social media expert at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School. But then her second thought, North said, was that unlike the anti-heroes played to such great effect by Sylvester Stallone in the "Rambo" movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Running Man," Dorner has no redeeming qualities.
"He's killed people who are real people with real families and real friends, and he's terrorized entire communities," she said.
His ability to so far elude one of the largest manhunts in memory, however, has quickly elevated Dorner to folk-hero status among some.
"People, especially Americans, like to identify with anti-heroes and underdogs, and if you take away the fact that he has killed innocent people, people identify with his messages," North said of Dorner's online rants against racism, injustice and police brutality.