What Friends, Neighbors And Coaches Say About Christopher Dorner

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Handout picture of Christopher Dorner provided by Los Angeles Police Department (Photo by LAPD via Getty Images)
Some of the people who knew Christopher Dorner have been speaking out about the man they knew as a teenager who grew up in La Palma, a bright and hard-working college football player and a man who was proud to serve in the Navy and in law enforcement.

So far we haven't heard from some of the people who were closest to him, including his mother and his ex-wife. Surely a more complete and complex story will come out in the days ahead (especially from people who right now fear they could be caught, literally, in his crosshairs). But those who knew him and are speaking out now say they were shocked that he would end up making headlines by stalking and then killing members of law enforcement and their families.

Long Beach police Sgt. Clint Grimes told The Daily News that he served in the Navy with Dorner. They weren't close friends, but he said Dorner was always smiling. Dorner talked about how proud he was initially to join the Los Angeles Police Department. In the Navy Dorner used high-tech sonar equipment to find small boats that could be a threat to naval vessels, and Grimes added: "They're not looking for a stupid guy, here."

His Southern Utah University buddy James Usera kept in touch with Dorner from time-to-time over the years. Usera gets a shout-out in Dorner's "manifesto" that ends with Dorner declaring, "I love you bro."

Usera in turn has had nothing but positive things to say about Dorner. He told The Daily News: "He was well-spoken, educated, rational. I didn't think he was moody or showed anything that would indicate he had mental health issues. My friendship with Mr. Dorner was extremely positive."

He said his football couches called him hard-working, and the two bonded as fish out-of-water in a rural, predominantly Mormon area: "Mr. Dorner was from Southern California and I was from Alaska, so being at SUU, which is set in a rural, predominantly white Mormon town, one of the things that connected us was our shock to the social demographics of the place. It was different to what we were used to and so we could relate to each other."

Dorner called him up and complained about some of the issues that he had with the LAPD, but to Usera it just sounded like "typical stress." He said, "People are looking for predictors, but I just never recognized anything that would indicate he was unstable in any fashion. He seemed normal, and I know that's not a great descriptor, but that was who he was to me."

Southern Utah University athletics spokesman Neil Gardner said he didn't know Dorner well, but he told the Salt Lake Tribune that he remembers him as "a very likeable, friendly, positive, up kind of guy."

Brody Benson, another teammate, described him as intellectual and well-educated. He does remember that Dorner had always been willing to voice his opinion on racism—just as he had in his manifesto. Like everyone else, he told the Salt Lake Tribune he was shocked: "I can’t believe it … You see a guy you knew pretty well, three years of playing football with the guy, just to see that."

Crystal Lancaster, a neighbor of his mother in La Palma told ABC 7, "We all couldn't believe it. We didn't know him that well, but he seemed like a really nice guy." Another neighbor described him as "a very wonderful boy." Neighbor Oscar Gonzalez told The Los Angeles Times he was amiable: "I've seen him here. I've said hi, I've bumped [fists] with him a couple times."

But now psychiatrists are being called in by national media outlets to analyze his "manifesto," after he went on a shooting rampage that has so far claimed three lives. Experts have called him narcissistic, psychopathic, delusional and many suggest he has a personality disorder.

We're still not working from a lot of information—most of the information about him is coming from his manifesto or his actions this week. But it appears starting going wrong for him after he returned from a 13-month deployment in the Navy, according to The Daily News. He returned to the LAPD in July 2007, and his wife filed for divorce from him. In 2008, he accused his training officer of kicking a mentally ill man on the job. But Dorner went through a series of hearings after the incident in which other officers and a bell hop testified that the accusations were false. He ended up being fired for falsifying that police report.

Related:
Ex-LAPD Cop Christopher Dorner Believed to Be on Killing Rampage Targeting Law Enforcement
Christopher Dorner's Manifesto, In Full [Content Graphic and Disturbing]
Killer Cop Christopher Dorner's Rambling Manifesto Praises Charlie Sheen, Anthony Bourdain, Gov. Chris Christie And More
Wounded Riverside Cop Shot By Dorner Expected to Survive, Suspect's Connection to Riverside Unclear
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Mayor Villaraigosa on Revenge-Seeking Ex-Cop Dorner: He's 'apparently a sick individual'
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